The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - THE LITTLE PRINCE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - THE LITTLE PRINCE

Animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's novel.

Review by Joshua Mitchell (@jlfm97)

Directed by: Mark Osborne

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Benicio Del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Bud Cort, Paul Giamatti, Albert Brooks, Mackenzie Foy

The Little Prince does feel a little bit baggy, but it's never less than entertaining (and at times, becomes something truly special), maintaining a high level of quality for much of its runtime.

It's been a long road to release for The Little Prince. The CGI/Stop-motion hybrid by director Mark Osborne saw its initial distributor, Paramount, unexpectedly back out less than a week before its then March release date. The feature was then picked up by Netflix and released in theatres and streaming concurrently five months later. The film had little buzz preceding its March release, so the publicized drama and ease-of-access viewing via Netflix may be for the better, allowing more eyes to reach Osborne's charming (and occasionally breathtaking) adaptation.

This particular version of The Little Prince is really two stories in one. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's novel is told through stop-motion visuals, with the story told in bits at a time. The framing device (animated in CG) is really the majority of the film. A young girl named Violet is under strict schedule in her studies, leaving no room for free-time. But after moving to a new house, she takes notice of her eccentric elderly neighbour. The two become friends, though Violet must keep their friendship a secret, as her mother insists that she doesn't have time for pals. As they spend time together, Violet is told the story of The Little Prince, and begins to discover parallels to the tale in her own life.

The film's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness, and that is the stop-motion sequences. Every delicious second spent in the story of the Little Prince is a marvel. It's visually extraordinary, emotionally engaging, sensationally imaginative, and utterly fascinating to watch. It achieves a true sense of magic, and though the convenience of Netflix will keep many audiences away from the theatre, these stunning scenes more than justify a trip to the cinema.

Still, the stop-motion segments only occupy about a fourth of the film's 106 minute runtime. The rest of The Little Prince is entertaining, but never comes close to reaching the dizzying heights of the stop-motion portions. The actual story is a fairly conventional tale, though it has its share of minor innovations, which keep things interesting. The visuals themselves lack the detail of modern computer-animated features, though it has some clever touches.

The cast is packed with stars. Jeff Bridges and Rachel McAdams are featured prominently, while James Franco, Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, Albert Brooks (in his third animated feature this year, tying Idris Elba if you count The Jungle Book), Bud Cort and Ricky Gervais pop up in supporting roles (some of them only afforded a handful of lines each). They are all excellent, and bring a lot of depth to the feature.

Also of special note are two significant child performances. Rising star Mackenzie Foy plays Violet, adding another solid performance to one of the most promising child actors working today. Director Mark Osborne's son, Riley, is genuinely terrific as The Little Prince himself, lending a whimsical aura to the mystical character.

The last half-hour flies a little off the rails, and ultimately isn't as satisfying as the preceding hour. In truth, The Little Prince does feel a little bit baggy, but it's never less than entertaining (and at times, becomes something truly special), maintaining a high level of quality for much of its runtime.

It will be interesting to see how The Little Prince plays with children, as it offers little action and a fairly slow pace. Truth be told, it's refreshing to see an animated film that doesn't follow the conventions of a "typical" work of its medium, instead proceeding in its convictions with confidence. Whether it finds an audience or not, it can be said that The Little Prince undoubtedly deserves one.

The Little Prince is available on Netflix now.