Room on the Broom An Entertaining, Touching Story For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  NCircle Entertainment

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment

The new “animated” take on author Julia Donaldson’s children’s book, Room on the Broom is a wonderful piece for families and even churches as the country starts to look towards October and Halloween.  Donaldson, who also wrote The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, co-wrote the book on which this feature is based, with Axel Scheffler.  This latest feature is much like its predecessors first and foremost because of its run time. It comes in at just under half an hour, much like those features.  Also like those features, this story features its share of lessons, too.  Speaking of the small screen adaptation of The Gruffalo, audiences will appreciate this new release even more as the animated presentation of said book is included on this disc along with a pair of pleasant bonus features to complete the overall positive viewing experience.

The very first aspect of this latest feature from NCircle Entertainment is its run time.  Much like both the Gruffalo and its sequel, this feature is not that long.  It comes in at just under half an hour in length.  There are those that have criticized this feature for the fact that it is as short as it is.  One can’t help but wonder if these same people watched the adaptations of Donaldson’s other books.  If so, did they feel that those features were too short, too?  That run time only serves to make this feature even more kid friendly, along with the lush, beautiful colors and positive lessons.  That is because most young viewers’ attention span doesn’t exceed half an hour.  So this is right on par with any children’s feature.  So whoever would think the run time is a bad thing should perhaps watch it again with more of an open mind.

The lessons taught throughout the short run time of Room on the Broom are another aspect of the feature that viewers of all ages will appreciate.  Throughout the course of the story, it teaches so many important lessons.  It teaches lessons about friendship, acceptance, sharing, respect, teamwork, loyalty, and tolerance.  And it does it all in less than half an hour without making everything seem jumbled together.  For that alone, this adaptation of the modern classic children’s story deserves very high marks.  The lessons are taught via interactions between the witch’s cat, a dog, a bird, and a slightly neurotic frog with a penchant for cleanliness.  The bird’s story of having been rejected by its fellow birds just because of how it looked teaches an invaluable lesson and starting point for discussions on tolerance and acceptance.  What’s more, it will touch very deeply, any viewer with a heart.  On the other side of things, the frog’s penchant for cleanliness will have adults and parents alike laughing.  And the dog’s simple innocence and loyalty adds one more element of joy to the story.  Together, this motley crew illustrates the intended lessons in a way that is accessible both to children and their parents, making the story all the more entertaining and touching.    

The “animated” adaptation of Room on the Broom is very similar in style to its counterparts in The Gruffalo and the Gruffalos Child.  However, it isn’t pointed out in this feature’s bonuses as to whether or not the same mix of claymation and CG was used in bringing the book to life on the screen.  There were elements of CG shown in the behind-the-scenes bonus.  But there was no mention of any claymation.  So it would have been interesting to find out if this indeed was used once again considering how close it looks to those features, stylistically speaking.  For once, this reviewer finds himself noting that regardless of whether it was primarily CG or a mix of both, the visual presentation of the story was absolutely beautiful.  The colors were so rich and vibrant.  Considering the fact that it’s a story about a witch, the bright colors used throughout each scene help to illustrate that this was no ordinary witch and that she didn’t live in the stereotypical world of a witch.  She was a good witch who appreciated everything and everyone around her.  Again, there is one of a handful of positive lessons that parents, teachers, and pastors will appreciate in the story.  Many audiences don’t take into account a factor as minute as colors used in the success or failure of a movie or feature.  But they really do play an integral role, at last on a psychological level.  And that is proven here, just as with so many children’s features.  Combined with the music, the bright colors maintain the feature’s positive vibe, thus in its own way, helps to make Room on the Broom that much more entertaining and family friendly. 

The aspects noted already noted here do so much to make Room on the Broom such a joy.  But no proper review of this new release would be complete without mention of its bonus features.  There are few bonus features this time around.  Audiences get a slightly different behind-the-scenes featurette in this presentation than in its counterparts in The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.  It makes the extra live performance of the book by author Julia Donaldson stand out even more.  Audiences actually get to see Donaldson perform a reading of the book along with some young friends to help her along the way.  Her performance brings the book to life in an entirely different, but just as entertaining fashion.  It’s something that parents and children will love to take in together.  And even younger viewers will appreciate the performance just as much as the children that were in attendance at the taping of her performance of the book.  This standout bonus serves as the icing on the sweet cake that is this feature.  It will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, August 6th on DVD.  It can be ordered direct from the NCircle online store at http://www.ncircleentertainment.com/room-on-the-broom/843501008041.  To find out about even more releases from NCircle Entertainment, parents can go online to http://www.facebook.com/NCircleEntertainment or the company’s official website, http://www.NCircleEntertainment.com

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The Gruffalo’s Child is a rare welcome sequel

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment/Magic Light

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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