some animals think it’s a good gig to be a witch’s familiar. One hospitable witch already has the
requisite feline, but they will pick up considerable company in Room on the Broom (promo here), Max Lang & Jan Lachauer’s animated
adaptation of the Julia Donaldson children’s book, which screens tomorrow at
the 2013 Aspen Shortsfest.
shorts have become a Christmas tradition for the BBC, even netting them an
Oscar nomination for The Gruffalo. Featuring big name voice talent and high quality
animation, they have also become popular selections on the American festival
circuit. They are a bit formulaic, which
is hardly surprising, considering they are produced for youngsters. Like the Gruffalo
films, Broom’s story involves
furry animals using their wits to fool an exotic monster in the woods. Indeed, these are brains-over-brawn lessons
that parents should readily approve.
it is nothing but blue skies in Broom. However, the spectacle of the witch and her
cat swooshing through the air is quite appealing to the creatures they
encounter. Each one asks if there is room
for them to hitch along. Every time the
cat says no (they are anti-social beasts), but the witch says yes. As the party grows they attract the attention
of a dragon skulking out of sight.
Anderson sort of lends her voice to the witch, but she laughs, sighs, and
exclaims more than she talks, per se.
Rob Brydon returns for another Donaldson, bringing out the cat’s
cattiness with uncharacteristic reserve.
Despite big names like Timothy Spall as the dragon and Simon Pegg
handling narration, Broom is more
visually driven, completely forgoing the Shrek-style
hip wise-cracking for grown-ups. It is
also considerably more endearing for the same reason.
Just so there is no confusion, Broom was a twenty-six minute Christmas
special, but not a Christmas story. With
nothing tying it to a specific season, it can be enjoyed at any time. Recommended without reservation for young
viewers and fans of gentler, more wholesome animation, Room on the Broom screens tomorrow (4/14) as part of Program Eleven: Family Fun at Aspen
Labels: Animated films, Aspen Shortsfest '13, British Cinema, Gillian Anderson, Short Films