Thumbelina (Don Bluth, 1994)

“A girl no bigger than her mother’s thumb feels all alone in the world knowing she is the only person her size. Her wish for a companion at last comes true when the prince of the fairy’s arrives at her window sill. However, the naive Thumbelina’s life goes downward from there when a toad kidnaps her. While she tries to find a way home, she begins to grow up and learns about hope with the help of the friends she always wanted.”

– Max Vaughn, IMDB.

Thumbelina was produced by Don Bluth Entertainment, who also brought us the features An American Tale and The Secret of Nimh. To quote Roger Ebert “It is difficult to imagine anyone over the age of 12 finding much to enjoy in Thumbelina.” Jodi Benson, who previously voiced Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, stars as Thumbelina. Other notable voice actors include Carol Channing, Charo, Gilbert Gottfried, and June Foray.

Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below)…
Thumbelina is yet another movie I first watched as a kid. As a result, I look on this one pretty favourably. Like Happily Ever After, it’s not without it’s flaws… but the filter of nostalgia makes it near impossible for me to view this movie too negatively.

The biggest gripe that most people have (Including myself) is that Thumbelina just kinda mindlessly goes along with every situation that she’s thrust into. I think the film is trying to give the impression that Thumbelina has to learn to stand up for herself, which she does do at the end of the film. We don’t really see a build up to this though. I think the film would benefit from seeing Thumbelina gain more confidence in herself over the course of the film. Some little moment that gives the audience the suggestion that she is learning from her misadventures, even if she isn’t always able to take action at that specific moment in time.

Something that stands out to me a lot in Thumbelina is how accelerated time seems to be. The movie seems to take place through three seasons: fall, winter, and spring. The passage of time doesn’t really feel like it matches up with the story being told, so as a result the movie ends up feeling like fall, winter, and spring all happened in the course of a single week, if that.

Also, here is my Thumbelina confession: the “Marry the Mole!” song (Winner of the 15th annual Razzie for “Worst Original Song”) does not bother me in the slightest. I can totally see how some find Carol Channing’s voice grating, but I personally don’t feel the song is as bad as it’s reputation would indicate (If you’re curious what gets my vote for what is the most cacophonous song in an animated film, check out the “A Veritable Smorgasbord” from Charlotte’s Web). Honestly I find all of the songs in Thumbelina pretty enjoyable, both lyrically and visually. If there is one thing Don Bluth is good at, it’s providing some very interesting, or at least entertaining visuals in his film.

So my verdict is, definitely check this one out! I feel like this is an interesting movie to watch in a group together, as I think there’ll be a range of opinions whether this one is ‘so bad it’s good’, or just ‘good’.

References

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