I was not looking forward to this movie. Based on the trailers, it looked like a wacky comedy with poorly animated characters. When the Roo and the Otter asked if I wanted to go, I said yes, but I wasn't really enthusiastic.
Wow. Was I wrong!
This movie is a class act, all the way. Top-notch voice and sound meshes seemlessly with terrific stop-motion animation to create a weird, alternate world where animals and humans can communicate but don't always see eye-to-eye. The plot follows the book surprisingly closely, with some characterization and dialogue added that make it very much a Wes Anderson movie. And to me, that's a good thing, because I'm a fan of the man's work.
Some people are making noise due to Wes Anderson's decision to live in Paris while the movie was being filmed in London. I have to dismiss this issue with this question...what was Anderson supposed to do on the set while the animators were moving tiny figures one frame at a time? Anderson was able to use a system to look through the cameras and to watch the dailies in real time. He acted scenes out for the animators and sent them video of what he wanted. Do these critics think the director of a painted animated movie sits there and watches the animators paint, or a computer-animated film director watches the programmers work? I really doubt it.
This movie brings the word fantastic...it made me laugh and cry, and I believed in all of the characters whole-heartedly. I don't want to give much away, but there's a scene with a truly wild animal, close to the end of the film, that is one of the most beautiful, sad scenes I've seen in a movie in ages.
I highly recommend this film.
- The Happy Bear