I have scoffed at the idea of watching “Thumbelina” since it came out 22 years ago and I wish that I had left it unseen. There is absolutely nothing for adults or boys in this film. The entire film feels like a jumbled mess with dialogue that leaves something to be desired and important moral lessons (like “Don’t get mixed up with Latino singing and dancing frogs that promise to make you a celebrity). After successful films like “An American Tale” and “The Land Before Time,” this trainwreck introduced the fallibility of Don Bluth and was the first in a string of box office failures. Even at its lowest, Disney never released this sort of drivel into theaters. Disney may have stooped pretty low with some of their direct-to-video sequels but at least they were self-aware enough to outsource them to a lower-budget branch and forego the theater. All that I really want to know is why the narrator (Jacquimo) is French. Hans Christian Anderson, the story’s author, is Danish. The original fairy tale makes no reference to France. The movie doesn’t take place in France. None of the other characters are French. So why does the script make such a big deal about Jacquimo being French? I suppose that the writers were trying to create their own Lumiere with this character and it isn’t the only instance that this film tries to copy Disney. The narrating character, singing animals, animation style, and even the casting of Jodi Benson (Ariel) in the lead role scream “Disney Rip-off.” Then Gilbert Gottfried (Iago) pops in to drive the point home. “The Lion King” got Elton John. This movie got… Barry Manilow? Disney seems to be a step ahead at every turn. The cast list is full of celebrities including John Hurt and Carol Channing. The true mystery is how they suckered this many stars into a movie like this. Gary Imhoff’s singing voice sounds very shouty in the low range and the vibrato in his high register, while beautiful, doesn’t match the appearance of his character. The story is just a bunch of characters (including a prince, a toad, and a mole) trying to marry her and another set of characters (including a beetle and a toad) trying to exploit her for her singing voice. It’s boring and kind of disturbing, all at the same time. I’m just trying to figure out why everybody wants to marry her. She is kind of a brat. On top of that, there are so many unnecessary characters. It's like the writers and animators had a brainstorming session and just decided to keep everyone, even if they only got to be in the movie for two minutes. The musical ballads are kind of nice but not nice enough for them all to be repeated multiple time throughout the film. Except for “Marry the Mole.” Once was enough for that song. It is really difficult to find anything good to say about this film and worst part is that I probably would have given it the same review at age 9. “Thumbelina” is visually appealing but the story, characters and music all feel like a mistake. Even direct-to-video Disney sequels are better than this.
[Pictured: An annoying small person and a inexplicably French bird in the middle of a Danish story - what could possibly go wrong?]