Making the Grades
The latest creation released to video from Don Bluth (creator of The Land Before Time, All Dogs Go To Heaven, and others), Thumbelina is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairly tale of the tiny girl who wants to marry a prince. As most fairytales go, the plot is light and predictable with a strong emphasis on imagination.
In not even the slightest regard do I profess to be an expert on Hans Christian Andersen, but as a movie, Thumbelina is a real stretch to keep you interested. You know the story demands a happy ending, so no matter what happens along the way, it is obvious the security of Thumbelina and her little friends is assured. And that's not a problem. All children deserve an occasional light story with a happy ending that doesn't try to force a social or environmental issue into the script.
However, children also deserve to be treated to a movie that assumes they have a certain level of intelligence. Thumbelina relies heavily on the fear principle, and doesn't even attempt to challenge its viewers on a more advanced level. The little character moves from one desperate situation to the next, and even more disturbing, is often taken advantage of by male characters who are only interested in their own gain. Finally, in the end the handsome prince delivers her dream.
Bluth's animation, never as good as his earlier works, now strikes a level between Saturday morning and Disney. Barry Manilow is the main man behind the film's score, but after viewing it, you are hard pressed to remember one song.
You may want to consider the message this movie portrays, especially to little girls. A single viewing should not be a concern, but often parents buy these animated features and their children watch them repeatedly. There are far better choices to set on your video shelf.