Three years ago, one of the most unlikely family hits was released to dvd in the form of The Gruffalo. The Gruffalo was about a little mouse who inadvertently creates a creature called The Gruffalo in an attempt to escape being eaten by a fox, an owl and a snake. Now, fans of that hit will be treated to its sequel on August 14th in The Gruffalo’s Child.
Author Julia Donaldson notes in the behind the scenes feature included in the dvd presentation of The Gruffalo’s Child that this sequel was not originally planned after the publication of The Gruffalo. She notes that after The Gruffalo was originally published, she went to work on a number of other books. But then The Gruffalo’s Child came along. And audiences can say that for once, it’s nice to see a sequel that meets the bar set by the original.
In The Gruffalo’s Child, the mouse (voiced again by James Cordon) has to outsmart the younger Gruffalo, so as to not be eaten by her. She is voiced by Shirley Henderson. Cordon is joined again by Tom Wilkinson as the Fox, John Hurt as the Owl, and Rob Brydon as the slippery snake. Helena Bonham Carter returns again, too, as the voice of the mother squirrel, who tells the story of what happened when the Gruffalo’s child went off into the deep dark woods in search of the big bad mouse. She tells her children of how tthe Gruffalo’s child–who is unnamed–meets the snake, the owl, and the fox. Each one tells the Gruffalo’s child of where they believe the mouse is, until she finally comes face to face with the creature that scared her father so badly yeas ago. How the mouse outsmarts the Gruffalos’ child won’t be revealed here. But it’s worth its own share of laughs.
The story behind The Gruffalo’s Child is a wonderful story for the entire family. But the story itself isn’t all that makes this dvd so impressive. Just as the original story of The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child is simple in its presentation and its music. It even makes some subtle statements along the way. Unlike so many other “animated” movies out there, The Gruffalo’s Child is a mix of claymation and CG, rather than being entirely CG-based. The comparisons to The Fantastic Mr. Fox are inescapable. That aside, being that so few “animated” features out there take this hybrid course, it helps The Gruffalo’s Child to stand out just as much as The Gruffalo. The Gruffalo’s Child also boasts the same music as The Gruffalo. It’s a simple soundtrack that actually serves to heighten the emotion of each scene, rather than simply be background noise. And the subtle statements included in the story range from lessons about children needing something in which to believe to that inate need that each person has to be scared at least to some extent. Given these may have been totally unintentional statements. But they are there.
The Gruffalo’s Child is a simple movie. Its run time is noted as forty minutes on the case. However, the actual presentation itself is just over twenty-five minutes. That’s a perfect run time for the attention span of younger audiences. Combine that in with the overall simple presentation and story, and audiences of all ages are offered what is one of the year’s best “animated” family features.
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