[Update: Paramount just announced The Little Prince will be released in the US on March 17, 2016!]
Based on the extraordinary and timeless novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry of the same name, The Little Prince, directed by Kung Fu Panda‘s Mark Osborne, is a satisfying and lovingly-made adaptation. The film is an English-language, French production, and it was scripted by Irena Brignull (The Boxtrolls) and Bob Persichetti. The movie is not a direct adaptation of the book but instead uses an original story about a Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy) befriending an Aviator (Jeff Bridges) to frame the tale of the Little Prince, which we are shown every time the Girl gets a new page of the story from her friend. If you’re not familiar with the book, stop reading this and go experience it. I’ll wait.
The Little Prince features a stellar cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Benicio del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Paul Rudd, and many more. Unfortunately, Paramount doesn’t want anyone to listen to this amazing cast until the movie is released in the US (weirdly, it doesn’t even have a release date) so I got the French dub. Fun fact: Marion Cotillard voices the Rose in both versions. Anyway, let’s dig in!
The main story is animated in conventional CG and resembles most animated movies in its character design but stands out because of its use of color. The story begins with the Little Girl and her mother moving into a new, square house that would make the Dursleys proud. All we see during the opening scenes are square forms drained of color and life as the girl’s mother shows her the detailed life plan she’s designed for her daughter. So you’ll be delighted when the Aviator and the Girl finally meet and bright, warm colors fill the screen.
But the definite highlights of the movie are the Little Prince segments, brought to life in stop-motion and directed by Jamie Caliri. The absolutely gorgeous animation is designed to look like Saint-Exupéry’s drawings, and you’ll leave the theater wishing there had been more of these segments just so you could stare at the beauty of it all. There’s a scene, pictured above, with the Little Prince and the Fox, and you’ll be left mesmerized by the artistry of the whole thing.
Story and themes
The movie’s core is the relationship between the Little Girl and the Aviator, and as long as their story is driving the film, everything moves smoothly, and you’re hooked, admiring the animation and smiling all the time. It’s when the movie moves away from this core relationship that it struggles, which happens for most of the third act. But the rest of the time, we’re treated to a beautiful friendship that opens the Little Girl’s eyes to what is essential.
Another problem is that the movie is trying to balance two stories at the same time (and then adds a third), and this leaves characters feeling a bit two-dimensional. But it works so well; it wouldn’t even be noticeable if it wasn’t the Little Prince we were talking about. Its subtle and delightful themes are what has made the book stand the test of time, and the movie is guilty of watering everything down. Maybe it was simply due to time issues or perhaps they thought kids nowadays wouldn’t be able to understand the lessons in the story. Whatever it is, it hurts the movie.
But as I said, all in all, the movie works well and was very clearly made with love and respect for its source material. You’ll find yourself wide-eyes and smiling, admiring the warm colors of the Aviator’s house and the phenomenal stop-motion segments. You’ll leave the theater humming Hans Zimmer’s score, craving to read the book and googling if you can get the adorable fox plush that accompanies the Girl everywhere (You can!).
Plus, I bet the English cast is amazing. Thanks, Paramount.
Are you excited about ‘The Little Prince’? Have you seen it? Share your thoughts!
Edited by: Kelly Conley