Wednesday 29 July 2020

Tat for tots: "The Fairy Princess and the Unicorn"

Should you ever need a masterclass in how not to open a kids' movie, look no further than the German-Luxembourgian co-production The Fairy Princess and the Unicorn, another of the lightweight European digimations being airdropped into ailing multiplexes in a bid to get our children eating popcorn again. Those youngsters will barely have taken their seats before being confronted with an exasperatingly gabby tell-don't-show prologue outlining the state of play in a magical kingdom where fairies co-existed with dragons until a wicked witch stole off with the dragons' eggs, leading to a widespread drought referred to as The Wilt. "And The Wilt happened?," asks our onscreen proxy. "Yes, The Wilt happened," confirms the narrator. At which point, dear reader, I looked deep into my soul, and I can but add this: never has The Wilt happened so quickly. Of the three imports being offered up for second-wave matinee duty - following Denmark's Dreambuilders and ahead of Russia's upcoming The Snow Queen: Mirror Lands - this is the most conspicuously bargain-binny, the result of a production that spent many more hours generating fantastical landscapes than it did on its waxen-looking characters or the wholly twee fairy princess songs. Unexpectedly, it's also the only one to offer up anything resembling subtext, setting its tiny wee heroine to try and make a difference in a divided land that's been doing wrong by its immediate environment. (There may also be something implicit in its community of fairies with rainbow-coloured wings, but perhaps this was just my mind getting increasingly desperate for anything to cling to when faced with a tsunami of mindless mush.) Whatever: anything agreeably progressive is soon swamped by further gushes of exposition and spectacularly unfunny comic bits rendered all the more unbearable by one-size-fits-all valley-girl redubbing. Again: I get why you might long to round up your brood and take the risk of corralling them into an enclosed public space that yielded such happy and fun times in days of yore. What I don't get is why anyone would take that risk for something so utterly undistinguished. Set against this bland and artless screenfiller, Disney's recent Tinkerbell spin-offs look like Guernica.

The Fairy Princess and the Unicorn opens in cinemas nationwide from Friday.

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