DVD REVIEW: MUMFIE'S QUEST / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: JOHN LAURENCE COLLINS / SCREENPLAY: BRITT ALLCROFT / STARRING: PATRICK BREEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Thomas and Friends creator, Britt Allcroft, has introduced many children to the unending pleasures of anthropomorphisation and the powers of friendship. In many ways his '90s series, The Magic Adventures of Mumfie, had far more to say about friendship, and boasted a wackier menagerie of characters than Thomas ever did. While it hasn’t dated gracefully, Lionsgate has made it available on DVD in the UK for the first time. A few extras wouldn’t have gone amiss, though.
Mumfie’s Quest is comprised of 13 of Allcroft’s 10-minute episodes, trussed together to form a drawn out hour and forty-three minutes. Film and TV are different mediums, ‘nuff said, and it’s obvious that Mumfie’s Quest is more a series of vignettes than anything resembling a film. The plot takes unnecessary tangents, given its supposed film status, making the undersea sequences all but redundant.
The traditional animation is lovely, though basic. Presenting Mumfie, a well-mannered, inquisitive white elephant hungry for adventure and, like Bilbo Baggins’ unexpected journey, has adventure thrust upon him. Mumfie is hardly the oddest of his company, not with Pinky the flying pig, Napoleon the down-on-his-luck French raven or, most bizarrely, Whale who’s kitted out inside like a swanky hotel lobby. With a gaggle of Monty Python-inspired voices over Lewis Carroll-style escapades, the kids will certainly enjoy it (even on a diet of CG animation).
While the songs get tedious, they are heartfelt, the best being when the sea pirates break out, and the plot is sickly-sweet at times but never without charm and a bucket load of cute to boot. It may not quite have the depth, majesty or sophistication of Eastern animated movies, but Mumfie’s Quest is definitely a worthy English answer to any of Miyazaki’s films.