IT WAS THE FIRST TIME EVER getting such an answer to my question. All I could do was laugh and ask her why she wanted to be a mermaid. The little girl was my friend’s daughter, who said mermaid when I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She wanted to be one so she could swim faster and stay underwater for a long time. I wasn’t sure how to answer her because I did not want to be the one to tell her she could never be a mermaid. So instead, I asked her if I remembered correctly that mermaids had a large fin instead of feet; she said yes, I was right. Scratching my chin as I tried to put a pensive look on my face, I told the little girl that when she gets older she might be able to buy fins a/k/a flippers for her feet that would make her swim faster in water. She seemed pleased with the answer, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. My conversation with her reminded me of myself when I was her age because back then when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them I wanted to fly like a bird and be a window washer. THROUGH ALL MY SCHOOLINGS IF I did not know what I wanted to do after school for a living, I at least had some general idea of what field I could see myself in. There was one relative who always told me I should be an accountant because I was so good with numbers. Another relative said I should work in the arts because I had such an imaginative mind. I wanted to do something with animals because of my love for them. As I started the educational process towards that goal, there was a part of me that also wanted to start my own travel business because of my love for travel. I wanted to provide private tours for people, where they would be ushered through the city in a limousine. While driving them I would be explaining the different sights along with offering them restaurant choices for their meals. Though I always loved these 2 career options they never came to pass. Does that make me a failure? I never felt so; if anything, I felt there was something waiting for me to discover. The journey of discovery sometimes can even be magical as you can see with the main character in this animated, film festival nominated movie. LIVING OUT IN THE COUNTRY WITHOUT any friends made the days boring for Mary, voiced by Ruby Barnhill (The BFG, 4 O’Clock Club-TV). However, the discovery of a rare plant in the forest was about to change all of that for Mary. With Kate Winslet (The Mountain Between Us, The Dressmaker) voicing Madam Mumblechook, Jim Broadbent (Dolittle, Paddington franchise) voicing Doctor Dee, Ewen Bremner (Wonder Woman, Trainspotting franchise) voicing Flanagan and Louis Ashbourne Serkis (The Kid Who Would be King, Alice Through the Looking Glass) voicing Peter; this family adventure story was based on the book, The Little Broomstick. The animation was beautiful and creative; I felt it blended well with the story as the cast did an excellent job with their characters. It was so enjoyable to watch the hand drawn animation for a change instead of the computer driven kind. There was a sense of familiarity as I was viewing this picture; as if bits and pieces of other stories were being incorporated into this one. However, the sweetness, fun and excitement overcame any predictability I was feeling from several scenes. In addition, I thought the message in the story was simple enough for youngsters to appreciate. Seeing a picture like this one makes me glad I write film reviews.
Nestled in a comfy bed or cushy lap were the ideal places to listen to a story being read out loud. Hearing a voice for each character in the story made them come alive and no matter how scary or dangerous any of them were, one always felt safe with the adult in the room who was reading the book. Any place around the world would appear crystal clear as if you were right there. This held true even if the place was from a fantasy story. I can still remember hearing about flying cars, a phantom tollbooth, a giant peach and thousands or maybe millions of other worldly and unworldly objects and people. Why is it I can recall most of the children books I read or had read to me when I was a kid but some of the things I currently read will slowly drift out to sea in my brain? Having books read to me before I could read was a fundamental element to my development into appreciating a good book. I truly feel every child should have the opportunity to become familiar with books and be taught how to read them. Hopefully this will not sound as if I am prejudiced, but I get a feeling of sadness when someone tells me they do not read. The ability to read the written word nurtures part of our mind, letting it grow and expand to make room for more knowledge. Now back to the question in hand; I am not complaining, but I am perplexed I can remember the children stories from my youth. Is it the subject, the fanciful characters or the realization one is not alone; that creates a bond with the reader/listener? I do not have the answer but am ever so grateful I have had the experience. It goes without saying as an adult now I can appreciate when a classic children’s story is made into a movie like this one that is based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl (Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox). LOOKING out the window of the orphanage Sophie, played by newcomer Ruby Barnhill), was shocked to see a giant in the street. The giant, played by Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, The Other Boleyn Girl), was just as surprised and could only think of one thing to do. The beginning of this adventure fantasy was magical and charming; I felt I was going to watch something special. The special effects were wonderful; Steven Spielberg’s (Jaws, Schindler’s List) direction was familiar and ideal for the way he can tell a story. But something happened as the movie moved forward and the focus turned from Ruby and the giant to another story line. The magic somewhat disappeared for me, though I thought the actress who played Ruby was terrific. Overall I am glad I saw this family film and feel younger children may not enjoy it as much as the age group that would be able to read the Roald’s book on their own. There was a point during the movie where I had wished I had my blanket, a glass of warm milk and a plate of cookies as I leaned back in my reclining theater seat.
2 ¾ stars