I am writing this review after seeing this movie on the STARZ! channel by accident. Hopefully, I can save other viewers some confusion. This was advertised as The Wind in the Willows, the live-action film directed by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame and starring Jones along with other former Python stars. This is not that film. This film is actually an animated made-for-TV version. The confusion arises from the fact that both versions were made in 1996 and both feature former Python Michael Palin. He is the voice of Rat in this version and he is the only Monty Python star associated with this production.
To further the confusion this cartoon does begin and end with brief live-action scenes. These scenes show Vanessa Redgrave boating along a river and reading to some children. She also serves as narrator throughout the cartoon.
The animation here is about what you'd expect. It looks like every other version of The Wind in the Willows. But the story is a slight mixture of Kenneth Grahame's original "Willows" and the more recent sequel "Willows in Winter" by William Horwood. Toad's obsession with motor cars is taken from the first book rather than his obsession with airplanes in the second book. A few scenes of winter in the Wild Wood and a brief subplot of Portly the otter being lost are all that is taken from Willows in Winter.
Overall it is a good cartoon. The language is very close to the books and I was glad to see that the animals still smoked pipes and cigars and carried pistols. It has not been "watered-down" for children and simpletons.
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