REVIEW: POSTMAN PAT – THE MOVIE / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: MIKE DISA / SCREENPLAY: KIM FULLER, NICOLE DUBUC AND ANNIKA BLUHM / STARRING: STEPHEN MANGAN, RONAN KEATING, JIM BROADBENT, DAVID TENNANT, RUPERT GRINT, SUSAN DUERDAN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
In a year where Paddington Bear (or Paddington as it is being called) is already being released, it seems producers just can’t stop trying to bring classic TV characters to the big screen. In essence, this is the problem with this adaptation of the long-running British children’s series, which pales in comparison to the likes of this year’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman. The fact that this film ditches the revered stop-motion animation of the series for CGI, or includes a whole new voice cast is not the biggest issue here. The fact is that the series, built upon old school decency and British charm, is completely at odds with this strange and overblown plot. Postman Pat: The Movie will please some (very) youngsters with its inoffensive story but adults who grew up with Pat will likely want to scrape their eyes out with a letter opener when the Britain’s Got Talent-esque plot takes over.
The film sees Pat Clifton – the friendly, veteran postman of the village of Greendale - enter auditions for a talent show called You’re the One. In his absence, the robotic Patbot 3000s are left to deliver the mail. Needless to say things do not go well, so Pat and his black and white cat Jess must ultimately try and save the day. This strange decision to combine robots and The X Factor with Postman Pat is made even stranger by the fact that there aren’t really many gags as a result. The film is another case of filmmakers feeling that a decent little story is not good enough; they have to pump it full of pop culture and in this case it just doesn’t come off well. Ronan Keating provides Pat’s singing voice in a sequence that shows that at some point in the film's making there was some affection for the material, but that is lost under the Simon Cowbell (yep, we’re going there) judged competition and an equally naff sci-fi twist with menacing robots.
It all strays dangerously close to Top Cat: The Movie 3D. Luckily, it never quite descends to such levels of awful, but all the same Pat’s film outing fails to deliver the goods. There are some plus points in that Episodes star Stephen Mangan makes an endearing voice for Pat (even if he cannot realistically match Ken Barrie who voiced Pat from 1981-2012, until Lewis ‘Sebulba’ Macleod took over in 2013). Additionally there are the odd gags that work (Pat reading The Postman Always Rings Twice) and some harmless tomfoolery for the young ones. Heck, it wouldn’t even have felt so bad if the animation wasn’t so lacklustre but the CGI is littered with colour without any real sense of joy. It all looks a bit unfinished, just like the story.
Sadly, despite it not being among the worst spins on classic TV shows, Postman Pat: The Movie does not have enough to match its source material's enduring appeal. It will likely be forgotten, as we now look forward to probable future incarnations of Thomas the Tank Engine or The Clangers (which apparently is returning to TV soon). That said, at least we can be thankful that the result is not as garish as that poster that has Pat opening his arms and doing a rather dodgy-looking pose (Postman Pat Mustard anyone?).
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10