Movie Review: The Little Prince

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A young girl whose mother micromanages her life finds magic in the next door neighbour’s yard.

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Mark Osborne, 2015

When a Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) and her Mother (Rachel McAdams) move to a new neighbourhood in order to get into a prestigious school, the Little Girl tries to live up to her Mother’s expectations. Every moment of her life is planned, in the little grey box house in a neighbourhood of little grey box houses, while her Mother spends long days at work in business. However, when the Aviator next door (Jeff Bridges) unexpectedly crashes into her life, the Little Girl is intrigued. She visits him daily, exploring his bright, colourful garden and listening to stories about the Little Prince (Riley Osborne), who lived on an asteroid and fell in love with a Rose (Marion Cotillard). The Aviator tells the story of when he met the Little Prince, with each tale containing a moral about growing up for the Little Girl to learn. Reality eventually comes crashing down on the pair, however, and the Little Girl must use what she’s learned to fight against the monotony of the adult world.

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I was not terribly impressed with The Little Prince. The real-world framing device is wildly uninspiring, from the cookie-cutter animation to the predictable storytelling and twee musical stylings. The choice to use primarily famous…uh, face actors, for a lack of a better term, to do the voices is hit and miss as well. There are a few choices that work really well – James Franco as The Fox, Paul Rudd as Mr. Prince, Jeff Bridges as The Aviator – and some that don’t work at all – Benicio del Toro as The Snake, and especially the incredibly distracting turn from Ricky Gervais as The Conceited Man (perfect role choice there, though). I found the film frustrating to watch. There were definitely moments that I enjoyed, but every moment I liked – The Little Girl’s gorgeous toy fox, her discovery of play in the garden, the Little Prince stories – was outweighed by about three things that really bothered me. I found the world of grown-ups way over-the-top in how literal they made their metaphors.

And that’s the core of the film. The central problem with The Little Prince is that it takes an allegorical story and tries to make it literal. This is not a story that is meant to be told in a linear narrative format. It comes as no surprise, then, that by far the best parts of the film are the gorgeous rendered wooden doll-style animation of the Little Prince fables. They’re full of wonder and beauty in a way the main storyline never manages to be. They also contain warnings about how to grow up, rather than showing children that growing up is generally miserable and not to do it at all. There is a twist with the Little Prince at the end that illustrates this film’s reluctance to grow up perfectly, and it’s just a disappointing, sad message to send to kids. I hope that they see the magic in the film, but not that they’re put off growing up all together, because that should be magical too.

The Little Prince on IMDb

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