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The Amazing Maurice
Review by Rich Cline |
dir Toby Genkel
scr Terry Rossio
prd Emely Christians, Andrew Baker, Robert Chandler, Rob Wilkins
voices Hugh Laurie, Emilia Clarke, Himesh Patel, David Thewlis, Gemma Arterton, David Tennant, Ariyon Bakare, Joe Sugg, Julie Atherton, Hugh Bonneville, Rob Brydon, Peter Serafinowicz
release UK 16.Dec.22,
22/UK Sky 1h33
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Dry British humour livens up this nutty animated romp, which is based on the Terry Pratchett novel about a con-artist cat and his crew of intelligent rodents. The story plays cleverly on the folktale of the Pied Piper, with added action and hilarity. The animation is sharply rendered in the usual digital style, livened up with snappy design details and a generous dose of dark existential humour.
In rural England, the fast-talking cat Maurice (Laurie) earns cash by ridding villages of rat infestations that he stages himself. Assisted by human boy Keith (Patel), he's also manipulating his rat colleagues, promising them an idyllic future on a tropical island if they'll do one more job. Then they enter a sleepy village that's oddly bereft of food, and they're quickly rumbled by Malicia (Clarke), daughter of the village mayor (Bonneville). Together, they set out to solve the larger mystery about the missing food, which involves some sneaky ratcatchers and their terrifying Boss Man (Thewlis).
Using a meta-framing device, the story is knowingly narrated by Malicia who, among other things, elicits flashbacks about how these critters became sentient and learned to speak. Imagery is colourful, bustling with activity and sparky dialog that engages on multiple levels. So the kids in the audience will enjoy the nutty action and silly gags, while adults will be intrigued by the bigger ideas gurgling throughout the story. Indeed, inside this adventure is a fascinating exploration of the various ways we believe in the magic that seems to swirl everywhere around us.
On the surface, the plot is little more than a series of heists and rescues, including a few cleverly orchestrated set-pieces that are genuinely intense, especially when Death himself (Serafinowicz) turns up. Character details add witty touches at every turn, from Maurice's insatiable appetite to the way Malicia so casually dismisses Keith's moon-eyed love for her. She believes that she needs to take control of her own story, which echoes a central message about resisting the temptation to follow the crowd.
The script is cleverly infused with banter about the nature of storytelling itself, and how we always seek an overall plot in the things that happen around us. These intriguing ideas are inventively woven throughout the smart dialog. So while Maurice's cynicism matches Malicia's, this causes problems for the rats' true-believer sensibility, even as their spiritual leader Dangerous Beans (Tennant) reminds them that it's not the myth but what they make of it that matters.
R E A D E R R E V I E W SStill waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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