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Marcia Gay Harden
O.K here's a quick summary of the plot: Madeline is an orphan. She is a good girl but one always seems to end up in some sort of trouble because of her tomboy-ish nature. She lives in a home in France with 11 other little girls who walk in straight lines and tend to say everything in unison. They are looked after by a kind-hearted nun(?) and have an abnormally smart dog. Other characters include the somewhat dim-witted governor of the house and the son of the Spanish Ambassador who lives next door with his father and seems to hold a torch for Madeline. This was originally a book that was a favourite for females in the 5-8 bracket, before becoming an animated series from which this film is derived from.
To start with, the animation is a huge improvement from the TV programme, with bright colours and some actual movement in the background. Madeline and her friends are pretty simplisticly drawn, but the art does it's purpose and does not claim to be Toy Story quality. The voiceovers are typically in English but done in French accents: how these people who were born and bred in France are fluent in English is not explained, neither is why they never use their native tongue (They write in it a couple of times) but it sounds amusing nontheless, with Lauren Bacall the undoubted highlight playing the very bald villianess.
The storyline gets pretty frenetic at times, but not so much that young minds will get lost in it. There are some pretty scary moments involving a child abduction and threats made with a pair of scissors, but nothing that should unduly concern any parent of a child of school going age. However, the songs in the film are absolutely dreadful, with forced rhymes and twee lyrics a common factor: don't expect the accompaning soundtrack album to exactly sell out in the shops. A good idea to praise the inventor of the mute switch, methinks. Aside from that, they are a couple of moments for grown-ups in the movie, like when a police artist does a Picasso rather than what he is instructed to do, but such parts are rare and mostly this is a kid-only enterprise.
Basically this is an ideal babysitter for the sprogs when Mum and Dad are busy round the house, but anybody over the age of 10 will probably quickly tire of it any go off to do something more interesting. By all means watch it with your young un's, but don't be surprised if you nod off after half an hour. There are certain cartoon films out there designed for all the family and people of all ages, like Shrek and Ice Age. This is not one of them.
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