Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (1996) Poster

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Lost Treasure
dbborroughs28 February 2004
I am probably one of the six people who saw this on its first theatrical run in the US. Because of a complicated and ultimately stupid legal battle between distributors involving this and other films this film got so lost that the only promotional material available to the theater I saw it in was a picture from a newspaper, which they pasted into a much too big poster holder.

To add insult to injury despite getting raves from the New York papers, all of which wondered why the distributor was dumping a wonderful "children's" film, a new distributor, Disney released it on video after changing its name to tie into their amusement park ride, there by confusing those of us who saw this as the Wind in the Willows.

This film is a great film. Its simply a fantastic film comedy, never mind the stupid label of children's or family film, this is just great movie making.

The only people I know who are disappointed in it are people expecting a Monty Python film. Although it pretty much reunites all of the surviving Pythons only Jones and Eric Idle are in it for any length of time, Cleese has one scene as a lawyer and Palin is fleetingly seen as the sun. The film is light years from Python, despite having just a touch of Python's madness.

The humor is gentle and loving and keeping both with the period and with modern tastes. The songs are wonderful. Granted the story is changed to deal with the dangers of crass commercialism, the weasels want to turn Toad Hall into a factory, but having seen several version of the story told with people in costume, this is only one of two versions that has ever worked, and this one did it in half the time of the other.

This is a film that will make everyone feel good and which despite the PG rating is great for everyone.
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Not your typical Disney family film.
JeffG.8 October 1999
Although "Wind In the Willows" (released on video here in the US as "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride") is marketed as a kid's film, Monty Python fans are likely to get more out of it. The movie features Terry Jones (who wrote and directed it as well), Eric Idle, Michael Palin, and John Cleese (in a brilliant cameo as Toad's lawyer). Too bad they couldn't get Terry Gilliam on this project. The movie tells the famous children's story with the unique silliness, British humor and over-the-top delivery that we've come to expect from the Python troupe.

This is a movie that can not only be enjoyed by kids, but adults as well. Especially if they're Python fans. It won't replace your prized copy of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," but it's well-worth checking out. It's a crime that the studio did little to promote this film.
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A wonderfully light and fun version of the story with a great cast and a genuine sense of fun throughout
bob the moo31 May 2004
Venturing out from his underground home, Mole joins Ratty for a river trip. They come across the rich Mr Toad, who has taken up caravanning as a new hobby. However this hobby is replaced by a new one when he is run off the road by a motorcar – sparking a new passion in his life. While Badger, Mole and Ratty try to cure Toad of his car obsession, the weasels use it against him in order to get the deeds to Toad Hall.

After making this film, Terry Jones had a public falling out with Disney resulting in them pulling it from a theatrical release, giving it a stupid title and dumping it out direct to video – a fate it certainly didn't deserve. It is Disney that now looks stupid though as this is a wonderfully fun film that is pure simple fun to watch, it is the sort of kid's film that adults love because they can easily enjoy it just as much as their children.

The plot is a good adaptation of Grahame's classic book with only the factory bit towards the end being the biggest change to the source material.

In honesty, this thinly veiled attack on the ethics of big business is not only what most likely annoyed Disney but also is the bit of the film that doesn't work that well – it is cluttered, overly busy, noisy and lacking in the clean, fresh wit of the majority of the film. However this is a minor complaint as the rest of the film is a real joy.

The film has a constant spring in it's step and is fresh and funny. For my money the best scene to demonstrate this humour is the wonderful courtroom scene where absurd wit runs amuck (Cleese's 'defence of Toad had me rolling!). I'm sorry for gushing about this but it is an underseen film due to Disney's shoddy treatment of it and, expecting it to be bad like all video releases, I was really surprised to find just how enjoyable it was. As director, Jones does a great job on the film – it looks great and only the odd bit of special effect work let it down: the land is an idyllic, colourful place full of leisure time and a kind, friendly sun that always shines!

What really raises the film up is an amazing cast who are pretty much all used well rather than just being cameos for cameos' sake. Idle is really good as Ratty, as is Coogan in a nicely played role as Mole – they both play the characters as I imagined them. Jones has the film's most fun role and he really does it very well, keeping the audience on Toad's side by playing up his childish side rather than an arrogant side. Sher is great as the chief weasel and has great fun, Williamson is well cast but has less fun with his role than the others. The support cast is great – not only most of the Python team but good little roles from Fry, Hill, Planner, Wood and others are all used well and rarely is a bum note hit.

Overall this is a big, lively, colourful film that will please children no end. For adults it is never silly enough to be just for kids and there are plenty of famous faces to keep them entertained. However more than that, adults will enjoy the film's constant absurd wit in the script and direction that only really flags when the film pulls itself into a straight finish with a cluttered finale that is good but not as fresh and free as what had gone before. Despite Disney's best efforts this remains a really good film and one that is worth hunting out if you want a good bit of fun for family viewing.
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Hold on, hold on - this is just a fun film......
Roger Sharp16 October 2004
Hey, what's going on?

I've been reading the reviews of this film, and can't understand the (over) reaction to it.

This is a children's film. For children. Adults watching it who are not amused must have hearts of stone - even though it does not follow the current trend of having a subtext directed at the adult audience.

And yet, other reviewers are comparing it to Monty Python, Pink Floyd, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, John Majors pre 97 UK - et al. This is ridiculous.

It's a light hearted representation of the story which does not stick to the original text. I'm sure the author would have laughed in the right places. I've seen (a few) better films of the genre - I've seen many, many worse.

The low points?

  • the songs

  • the pet food factory plot (Why??)

The high points?

  • the fact the songs are very short

  • the costumes (an eclectic mix of modern, Victorian, Edwardian, and Middles Ages which I think work really well).

  • Toad's green face paint

  • The steam train.

Anyway, my children, who can be deeply cynical of films like this, loved it. I laughed. End of story.
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Sun drenched, cheery fun.
GazHack26 December 1999
A splendid, energetic version of one the classics of children's literature which benefits from a stellar cast of British acting talent. Aside from nearly every Python appearing to good effect, we have a touching performance from Steve Coogan as the downtrodden Mole, Anthony Sher as a hissable Chief Weasel and... well to many famous faces to mention.

What makes this version stand out is the stunning costume and production design by James Acherson. This is a caricartured version of olde England, with the animals played by cartoonish humans rather than anthromorphosised animals. The sun always shines, everything is polished and colourful. There's some subtle satire about the class system going on in the background but director Jones doesn't let that get in the way. Only the factory subplot strikes a wrong note, tending to clutter up the last half of the film but not seriously. Genuinely for children of all ages.
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dblonde81721 February 2001
Terry Jones's adaptation of "Wind in the Willows" is wonderful!! I found it very interesting to watch, and it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time! I'm not usually a fan of Disney movies, but I saw this and flipped! I loved it! I think people who don't like this movie really don't appreciate the wonderful Terry Jones. Yes, I understand some of the humor is a little "adult" for some of the younger viewers, but there is plenty for them as well (I mean, as a former python, how could Jones resist a few jokes here and there). The kids will laugh at Mr. Toad's zany exploits trying to get his motor car! Even funnier is Mole, Rat, and Badger trying to cure him! What else to say... I just thought this was a wonderful film, and a must see for (a)Disney Lovers (b) Python Lovers (c) and people who just want to see a different adaptation on a movie!!
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Monty Python does The Wind In The Willows
Suzi Roberts18 April 2008
When I first heard about this film, my first thought was - I'm going to hate it. I really like Monty Python, it had nothing to do with the fact that they were in it - I just thought I would hate it as I don't usually like it when animal characters are played by humans and don't look anything like the animals. Only when I watched this film (12 years after it was made) did I realize that was actually the point.

Terry Jones is a fantastic Toad. He's got his personality and attitude to a T. Ditto for Badger, Ratty and Mole. The film is rather a comical version of the book, and whilst it stays along the same lines, there are a lot of changes of the storyline. Bits are added, and bits are removed...but I can say i was never once bored while watching this! Go ahead and check it out - I'm glad I did!
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A Pythonesque Movie With Animals!
loopy_lucy1424 September 2006
A real life interpretation of Wind in the Willows. Wind in the Willows was originally written by Kenneth Grahame in 1908.The Story is based around the self-absorbed Mr. Toad and his friends Rat, Mole and Badger. Toad becomes obsessed with motor cars, but keeps crashing them, and in the end it selling his field to the weasels to pay for more motor cars. So His friends try to help him by keeping him locked up inside until he gets over his obsession but one day he sneaks out when Rat goes down stays to fetch the picnic basket. In the end He gets arrested for stealing a Motor Car, Crashing it and assaulting a police officer. He then gets sent to jail for 100 years. While he is in jail, the weasels plan to blow up Toad Hall, his home. So, Luckily Rat and Mole Come up with a plan to rescue him, but will they get to toad hall in time? This is a great Movie a highly under rated. It is a great movie for all of those fans of Monty Python as it has 4 of the Python's in it, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, John Cleese and Michael Palin. This Movie is rather weird and random and does have the odd funny joke. This movie at time can be rather confusing, but it all joins up in the end. The all comedian cast really brings the characters to life, as well as their over the top costumes do as well. Steve Coogan does a very good job as the timid mole, and at ties it is hard to tell it is him. Terry Jones additionally does a marvelously comical job as the insane and arrogant Mr. Toad. Plus Eric idle does a commendable job as the clever Rat. This is a great Movie for Python fans, and for all ages, but maybe more suitable for the ages 7 to 12 mainly.
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Best Live Action Disney film
Dipsy-3-28 August 1999
I thought that this was the best live action Disney film. It was so cute. The casting was perfect. Steve Coogen, was a cute and wonderful mole, ERic Idle, was the perfect rat, and Terry Jones, was the best toad ever. The songs are wonderful too.
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Colourful comedy fun
jamesmagoo17 October 2002
Fantastic family fun sees the Python team back on top form. Director Terry Jones (Who also writes and fantastically plays the part of Green - headed pink - cheeked fly - eating fantastically funny Toad in the film) sees the film to suit all ages. We've got a touching performance from Steve Coogan as heroic/overwimpy Mole, Overcooked portrayal of Rat from Eric Idle, and excellent performance from Nicol Williamson as Badger, and really cherrie performance from Michal Palin as the Sun. But by far the best performance was Antoney Sher's portrayal of the hissable Cheif Weasel. A real feast of cherrie popcorn fodder and tounges remain firmly in cheek throughout. Highly enjoyable.
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Ceili-222 May 1999
For those looking for a Monty Python movie, forget it. But for those who have children, or love charming, sweet, enjoyable children's films, check it out. Sure it has funny moments but the movie isn't a comedy, it is a wonderful story about Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

And it IS available in the US now, I rented it at Blockbuster. It only recently came out here, I believe.
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Monty Python does a children's classic
SnoopyStyle7 February 2016
Mole (Steve Coogan) loses his home to the bulldozers. Rat (Eric Idle) rows him up the river to see Toad (Terry Jones). Toad tells them that he sold Mole's home to the Weasels. In exchange, Toad gives Mole a caravan. Toad gets run off the road by a wild motorcar. Toad becomes obsessed with motorcar. After six motorcars, Toad puts Toad Hall at risk. Badger is a friend of Toad's father and tries to stop Toad from driving. Toad is helpless in the face of the Weasels' schemes.

This works better as Monty Python fare more than a children's movie. Kids would probably be bored with the muted colors and weird middle-aged men playing these cartoon characters. The courtroom scene works the best with a lot of wacky fun. The material is probably not the best for the guys to adapt but fans may find it irreverent fun.
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A Wonderful Version of a Classic Tale!
Matt Kramer6 July 2015
As many reviewers have mentioned, this film suffered the terrible fate of getting lost in distribution, and consequently never even got to take off from the airport. What a shame for such a charming and wonderful adaptation of the children's classic "Wind in the Willows". (Don't be confused by Disney's name change to "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". . .It is, in fact, "The Wind in the Willows".) The misadventures of Toad (Terry Jones), Rat (Eric Idle), Mole (Steve Coogan), and Badger (Nicol Williamson) remains quite faithful to the novel, particularly in conversations, embellishing parts only to help round out what is essentially a fairly loose plot (if the novel can be said to have much of a plot at all).

A real delight of the film rests in the zany antics combined with the images of idyllic turn-of-the-20th-Century England, as well as the wonderfully clever costuming and makeup. Director/Writer Terry Jones goes for an intentionally minimal approach, casting actors who naturally resemble their animal (Idle with his naturally mousey face, Williamson with his badger-like jaw, etc.) and putting only slight touches on them- a tail, a pointy mustache/whiskers, cut-off gloves for Mole's hands. So simple, and yet each character is instantly recognizable. This is a definite British touch that is seldom seen in more obvious American movies where things are less artistic.

Yes, Python member Jones recruited his three other comedy mates (John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle) to be a part. Although this is not a Monty Python film by any means, there are a few Python-esque touches for die-hard fans- the nonsensical courtroom, for example (where Cleese plays an amusing cameo as Toad's very unhelpful lawyer), and the sudden musical number that breaks out in the middle of the Weasel fight.

This is a charming, funny, zany family film that is perfectly suitable for the entire family, with lots of whimsical fun that leaves you feeling good.
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I liked it, but I also felt it was a bit clumsy!
TheLittleSongbird21 April 2009
Don't get me wrong, I did really like it, but like most films, there were a number of flaws that undermined what could have been a fun romp for kids. The first, and main problem, was the story. There were some times when it bared some resemblance to one of the best children's books ever written, up there with Peter Pan and the Hans Christian Anderson Fairy tales, for imagination and complexity. However, I especially disliked the dog meat factory subplot, that's where it got really clumsy and it made the climax feel really cluttered. The songs were also nothing to write home about. They were fun to listen to (especially the Weasel song), but they were definitely forgettable. The direction, by I think Terry Jones(also actor), lacked at times the director's usual silliness and fun. There were some scenes, like the train scene where the action felt a bit rushed. However, there were a number of redeeming qualities to the film. Some scenes, like the introduction to Rat, were beautifully shot, and reminded me of Three Men in a Boat. The sets and scenery are very colourful and pretty and the costumes didn't bother me all that much, admittedly though some of the special effects were so-so. The script was good, very witty at times, with some priceless lines especially with Toad, Badger and St John, while maintaining the book's gentleness and drollness which I liked. The performances were in general excellent especially Nicol Williamson as Badger, who brought a much needed gruffness to the character as well as having a gift for comedy. Steve Coogan was touching as Mole. Eric Idle and Terry Jones were very funny in their roles, Idle is wonderfully sympathetic and jovial while Jones has a ball as the juiciest character. The courtroom scene was hilarious because of Toad's increasingly silly breaking-into- song moments, and was the highlight of the film. John Cleese and Stephen Fry were good(Cleese especially), but their appearances were too brief. Anthony Sher was adequately menacing as Chief Weasel, but like everyone else involved, he has been better. All in all, a likable, colourful and funny but unfortunately at times clumsy film, with a 7/10. Bethany Cox
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Great Fun...For Grownups
flk7 February 2000
Our family loves Wind in the Willows, so we were thrilled to find this. The grown-ups also love Monty Python, so we were doubly excited. And the adults weren't disappointed -- it was truly a wild, fun ride, with antic performances by the participating Pythons and others (Stephen Fry and Antony Sher, for two). But I'm afraid our little ones didn't enjoy it as much -- at some point Terry Jones' script departs from Kenneth Grahame's story and enters the world of his former partner Terry Gilliam (Brazil, etc). This dark turn was very unsettling to the children. Also, has anyone noticed that the plot of this film closely resembles that of "Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave"? (Evil animals set up dog food factory featuring a wicked mincing machine.) Hmmm -- which was made first?
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A must for Python Fans
ExParrot1 November 1998
This was a great movie! You cannot see it in movie theaters or rent it. It can only be seen at film fests or you may be able to obtain a copy in Europe. Either way, if you have the chance to see it, don't miss out on it. Terry Jones did a great job directing and playing the infamous Mr. Toad. Even though it is credited as a children's movie, anyone will enjoy it, especially fans of Monty Python. Eric Idle did great playing Ratty, as well as Michael Palin (the sun) and John Cleese (barrister)
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An intermittently entertaining travesty
JekyllBoote-19 September 2003
The Monty Python team are the Pink Floyd of comedy; that is to say, they began brilliantly, shattering paradigms, but gradually subsided into lumbering, stodgy self-parody. (In the Floyd's case, compare and contrast the brilliantly fresh and visionary "See Emily Play" with the depressingly self-regarding millionaire's stadium plod-rock of "Comfortably Numb".)

The trouble is, many people follow rock bands and comedy teams as blindly as they follow political parties, once their basic loyalties have been established. So it is with the Floyd and the Pythons. Two or three Pythons only have to show up in a film or TV show for unthinking accolades to be heaped on it, regardless of whether, viewed objectively, it is any good or not. The Floyd/Pythons continue to bathe in the referred glory of their earlier, genuine achievements. (In any case, Jones and Idle are the only strong Python presences in the film; Palin (the smuggest of superannuated satirists) must have sleep-walked through his exiguous, undemanding role as The Sun, while it must have taken about thirty seconds for Cleese to complete his economy-size cameo.)

As an adaptation of the children's classic, Terry Jones's film is a travesty. Taken on its own terms, it is intermittently entertaining, although it loses focus and becomes excessively silly once Toad has escaped from gaol.

I think the film must be viewed in the context of the time it was made. John Major's faltering Conservative regime still just about held sway in Britain in 1995-6 (the time of the film's production), and the Labour Party had been out of power since 1979. The grasping, treacherous, materialistic weasels - who resemble the Blue Meanies from "Yellow Submarine" - are clearly a satire on the greedy entrepreneurs who had taken centre-stage in British public life after the accession of Margaret Thatcher. (We were still naive enough then to hope that Tony Blair's New Labour would rescue us from the weasels, so to speak. But New Labour were just the same old weasels in disguise.)

Steve Coogan and Nicol Williamson play their roles with more conviction than the film strictly deserves, while the Pythons simply trade on their fans' brand-loyalty. Pretty Julia Sawalha is fetching as the gaolkeeper's daughter
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Some Serious Flaws
Theo Robertson1 June 2004
Does anyone remember that television series from the mid 1980s featuring the characters from WIND IN THE WILLOWS ? That`s the series featuring fine actors like Michael Hordern and David Jason voicing the characters who are represented as puppets . It was a superb series according to my memory and this cynical reviewer would probably still sit down to watch it if it was on television today

This live action version of WIND IN THE WILLOWS collapses on many levels more so if you`ve seen the aforementioned series . First of all the big name cast fail to resemble lovable fluffy animals in any way and it`s very easy to forget why they`re called Mole , Badger , Toad etc so instead of humanising animals ( A traditional concept in childrens fiction ) Terry Jones has done the opposite and animalised humans . It`s very irritating the way the cast tend to mug for the audience at every opportunity which does gives the feeling the film is talking down to the child audience , and whose big bad idea was it to include songs ? This ruins the appearence of the story`s villains - the weasels which totally contradicts story convention of always having the bad guys treated seriously . No matter what genre you`re writing the bad guys must always be treated with respect . If the writer doesn`t take the bad guys seriously there`s no way the audience can either . Imagine a James Bond movie where the evil mad man who wants to take over the world is played by Jim Carrey doing his usual Jerry Lewis on acid spiel . That`s how menacing the weasels are in this movie , a movie that wears out its welcome very quickly
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Slightly uneven but very enjoyable
Brandt Sponseller16 November 2007
It may take some adjusting to be able to appreciate this version of Wind in the Willows. Although now distributed by Disney on home video, the quick pacing and wild abandon of Disney's 1949 version, which was half of the film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, is not to be found here. Neither will you find the over-the-top absurdism of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (1969), despite the presence of four Pythoners, including The Wind in the Willows' screenwriter, director and star, Terry Jones.

On the other hand, wild abandon and Pythonesque absurdism are not completely absent, but this is usually a much more mild, subtle and deliberately-paced affair which more closely follows Kenneth Grahame's original book--except for the plot developments towards the end. Jones has made sure to retain much of the book's symbolism of ideas and phenomena such as class stratification, plus he adds some of his own with more fascistic weasels. But at the same time, he also manages to produce something family and kid-friendly.

Although filled with humor, The Wind in the Willows is rarely--and rarely tries to be--laugh-out-loud funny, even though it occasionally reaches the comedic heights of Python (for example, during the courtroom scene, which features a great cameo from John Cleese). But most of the Python crew have spent the majority of their careers in an attempt to avoid being pigeonholed in that particular style--while most Python fans have experienced years of at least slight frustration at the subsequent void. Jones strikes a nice balance here, and ends up producing a very enjoyable, slightly fantastic, slightly silly romp with its own dramatic sensibilities.
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A disappointing adaptation.
GregS-630 August 1999
The quiet charm and whimsy of the Wind in the Willows is overtaken by violent scenes of Nazi-like weasels attempting to exterminate the riverbank denizens by grinding them up in a dog food factory. The queasy mixture of songs, gunplay, chase scenes, and Monty-Pythonish humor leaves a sour taste.
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not really the children's classic, is it?
didi-525 August 2003
I went to see this not really knowing what to expect - a Python slant on a great book, perhaps? The casting of the four main characters is perfect - Terry Jones, who also directed, is a joyous Mr Toad; Steve Coogan, surprisingly, is touching and affecting as Mole; Eric Idle (complete with whiskers that spring in surprise) is pretty close to the book's depiction of Ratty; and Nicol Williamson is hilarious as the crabby Mr Badger. But that is really as far as Jones went to appease Grahame's fans.

His 'Wind in the Willows' takes these characters and puts them in a bizarre hybrid of song and dance (I love the weasels' song, led by a pleasingly sinister Antony Sher), and dog food factory plot - who did this idea first, this film, or Wallace and Gromit's A Close Shave? Not much is left of the source material - although what is left is at times very funny! Interesting cameo parts go to Michael Palin ('that's the advantage of being - the sun'); John Cleese (recycling an old Python plot about a defence lawyer only coming up with 'my client is guilty' statements); Stephen Fry (another Melchett-like judge); Victoria Wood (tea-lady), and Nigel Planer (motor-car man).

I do wonder who this film was aimed at - surely not an adult audience or one of children? Perhaps the US decision to rebrand the product as 'Mr Toad's Wild Ride' was more accurate after all.
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Appalling trash
pnagy30 September 2000
Terry Jones has achieved what few people do. He has turned one of the greatest children's stories of the English language into an appalling mountain of garbage.

Kenneth Grahame would be spinning, nay jet-propelling in his grave if he saw this. It starts out well enough, Eric Idle in particular well cast as Ratty. The tragedy is that Jones decided to 'update' the story with some corporate-mindedly greedy weasels and throw in a few unnecessary song and dance numbers and the disaster is complete. The plot starts falling apart with some half-baked idea about a dog food factory in the forest.

Jones' Wind in the Willows thus loses all of the original's gentleness and especially the book's mystic ending. Children were more frightened by the film than amused.

Even a rare opportunity to reunite all the surviving members of the Monty Python team is wasted, John Cleese appears for less than a minute and Michael Palin is relegated to being Mr Sun, which is certainly less than what he is capable of. Instead we are allowed to 'rejoice' in Jones' dubious acting abilities as Mr Toad, surely he is by far the least talented Python.

Hopefully the disastrous failure of this film will ensure that Terry Jones does not vandalise any more children's classics in the future. I would hate to see what he could do to E. Nesbit's Enchanted Castle, for example.
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Despite dull character designs and a very, very, very limited release, this film is a lot of fun.
MartinHafer17 October 2010
I sought out this seldom-seen film because of the director and cast. I am a Monty Python fan and wanted to see many of the show's cast in a film--though it is NOT a Python film nor do they in any way pretend it is. In addition, Terry Jones didn't just act in it but also wrote and directed this film. So my curiosity was definitely piqued. But apparently few were impressed by the film or its unusual pedigree, as it barely received a release and was a huge money hole for the studio...and is a film few realize was ever made or released by Disney on DVD.

When this film began, I was very, very surprised by the look of the characters. While the sets were absolutely lovely, the actors simply looked like people with very minor changes to make them look, a bit, like the characters from the book. For example, Rat just looks like Eric Idle with some tiny whiskers and a tale and Terry Jones' face was painted a very, very, very light shade of green to play Mr. Toad! I had expected characters who were animals--but I guess to economize they did it this way. Oddly, also, some did not appear to be animals at all--just people! While I didn't like this look at all, I must say the acting was top-notch--something they might not have been able to get out of CGI characters or actors in clumsy animal costumes.

As for the story, the animals are worried. Toad is spending his fortune with reckless abandon--buy and destroying car after car. The weasels are thrilled, as they want to buy this property in order to do SOMETHING dastardly, so it's up to the nice animals (Mole, Rat and Badger) to try to stop Toad from destroying himself. But, with so many determined weasels AND Toad's total lack of control, it's a huge battle to say the least!

Overall, I really liked this version despite it's odd costumes--a few more dollars spent on giving EVERYONE more animal-like features would have improved it a lot--and I would have given it an even higher score. But on the plus side, the songs are bright and fun, the writing quite clever and funny, the acting uniformly wonderful, the wonderful little touches (such as the accelerator on the train saying 'even faster' and the mile marker saying 'many miles to go'), the music and sound excellent and the sets and colors are lovely. But I also think it's a story without much of an audience. I am not sure kids (particularly younger ones) would be interested in the film--particularly with the very adult vocabulary (with words like 'immure' and 'incarcerated' strewn throughout the film). And, I am not sure that most adults would even consider watching this film--after all, it's traditionally a kids' book. It's a shame, really, as it is lovely and fun. I particularly loved the courtroom scene--one of the few scenes that actually did look like it came right from "Monty Python's Flying Circus"!
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A Disappointing Lack of English Coziness, But...
Dale Houstman30 December 2006
I saw this film directly after reading it to my wife. I loved the book, and - really - I was more than happy to see the film, which has many good points, and some very nice performances. But...

Although I am aware that it is not necessarily a useful process to compare a book and its film adaptation, I did feel somewhat let down by the rather frenetic pacing of the film, with its emphasis on "gadabout" and a degree of mugging. I expected plot variations from the book, but I think several were egregious (the dog food factory was - I feel - a bad addition), and I most regretted the loss of the intimate coziness one finds so often in British children's books, the lingering over a home's warmth, and fireside chats, and a delight in tea and food. Much the same loss is felt in the "Lord of the Rings" adaptation, which my wife and I enjoyed immensely, but - again - whose largest letdown was the loss of the many simply sit down talks that abound in the book. Now, I am aware that film cannot take its good old time on such things; they are called "movies" for a good reason; but there are ways to capture this atmosphere of lazy friendship which informs every page of the book, and creates a pleasing nostalgia for time and culture vanished. The film was far too rambunctious, as if Mr. Toad himself had directed it...which 9in effect) he did! So although I appreciated the attempt, the film lacked a certain "heart" for this viewer, and far too much frantic movement. I was disappointed, but still recommend a look see...
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The Wind in the Willows
Jackson Booth-Millard22 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen many versions of the famous Kenneth Grahame classic story, too many in fact, and this was the very first live action version. You probably already know the story, but this one has had a few changes made so it is a bit more exciting, but not too much. Mole (Steve Coogan) is painting his wall when suddenly his home starts to collapse and he runs away to find the river, and Rat (Eric Idle). They go to Toad (Terry Jones, also directing) at Toad Hall to find out that Weasels from the Wild Wood have bought the meadow where Mole's home was, it was Toad's father's meadow. They soon meet up with Badger (Nicol Williamson) and try to erase Toad's warped mind of motor cars. Later in the film you find out more from the Chief Weasel (Antony Sher) that he wants to turn Toad Hall into a slaughter house, and there is a new Dog Food Factory in the meadow. Apart from the small changes made, the story is still the same. Also starring John Cleese as Mr. Toad's Lawyer, Stephen Fry as The Judge, Bernard Hill as The Engine Driver, Michael Palin (also in the Rik Mayall cartoon version) as The Sun, Chicken Run's Julia Sawalha as The Jailer's Daughter and Victoria Wood as The Tea Lady. Okay, mainly for the kids!
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