It is often quite hard as an adult to say what a kid will like; parents can sit and watch all manner of rubbish (and have done) but if their toddlers enjoy it that is all that counts. However, sometimes that means filmmakers just manufacture tosh (Pudsey: The Movie) and expect the masses to sit there and accept it. Fact is, in this day and age family films have become a far broader and all around pleasing genre with films like Paddington proving that kids and parents alike can be entertained by a single film. Sadly the case is not so for this animated straight-to-disc feature, who’s only noticeable feature is some recognisable names in the cast.
A Mouse's Tale sees a grandfather mouse tell his young grandchild a story of aspiring magician mouse Sebastian (Drake Bell), who finds himself on a quest for a powerful crystal to save the mouse kingdom from a rat invasion. Not merely coming with a scent of Antz, this small budgeted animation has a story that is vastly familiar. From the very start you can piece together where it is going and that final twist (if you can call it that) involving a princess will be obvious to even the under 6s. A Mouse's Tale in all fairness offers a harmless, if dull, viewing experience and there are the odd ideas (a hinted animal testing angle to the villain - the film’s best character) and a good use of fairies but everything else is strictly by the books. A small hero with big dreams? Check. A silly king? Check. “It was all in your heart” message? Check. The clichés are all here, and while it feels a touch cruel ripping apart a kids film on these grounds, the fact is that modern day kids TV offers far more appealing adventures. As do the bog standard Disney straight-to-disc movies.
The plot will perhaps engage really young toddlers but parents may have a harder time staying awake. The story itself is essentially a quest that eventually turns out to be for very little, featuring characters that are not unlikable but at the same time hardly memorable. Sebastian is a fine if moany hero but his brave lady accomplice Samantha (Miranda Cosgrove) is a little better, whereas warriors Sir Thaddeus (Cary Elwes) and Provolone (Brandon Hudson playing the film’s answer to A Bug’s Life’s Heimlich) are typical characters in every regard. Even Tom Arnold’s turn as the bumbling mouse wizard Dalliwog is not quite as fun as it sounds (plus Arnold’s voice just doesn’t seem to quite fit the part).
All in all, A Mouse's Tale is lower in budget and with visuals that are pretty standard, however it is the plot and characters that is the real problem. We were hoping for a film like Anthony Leondis’ Igor here that was not a re-inventor of the wheel but was a fun and chipper little animation with some fine storytelling and characters. Sadly the film amounts to a forgettable offering that does not create strong enough characters to fear for their safety and has a story that in the end does not go anywhere much. There is nothing wrong with a plain and simple animated offering, and indeed really young kids will probably have a lot of fun, but if given the chance to watch kids TV or other straight-to-disc films out there, most likely they will probably be saying that they were better. Unoffending for really young kids but highly unremarkable and snooze-inducing for parents, family films can be and often are much better nowadays.
INFO: A MOUSE'S TALE/ CERT: U / DIRECTOR: MYCHAL SIMKA, DAVID BISBANO/ SCREENPLAY: DAVID BISBANO, MYCHAL SIMKA, RAQUEL FARAONI/ STARRING: DRAKE BELL, MIRANDA COSGROVE, CARY ELWES, TOM ARNOLD, JON LOVITZ/ RELEASE DATE: MAY 25TH