REVIEW: Room on the Broom [2013]

Score: 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 25 minutes | Release Date: 2013 (UK)
Studio: British Broadcasting Corporation
Director(s): Jan Lachauer & Max Lang
Writer(s): Julia Donaldson & Max Lang

“And WHOOSH …”

Just like with The Gruffalo back in 2011, Max Lang has found his second adaption (this time co-directed by Jan Lachauer) of UK children’s author Julia Donaldson‘s work garnering an Oscar nomination as well. It’s 2002’s book Room on the Broom, a cute tale about making new friends and selflessly banding together to save each other from the clutches of a fat, evil dragon. Axel Scheffler‘s cartoony illustrations have been given dimension with computer animation rendered to look like Claymation while Simon Pegg lends his voice to narrate the rhyming plot of a cheery Witch (Gillian Anderson) and stubborn Cat’s (Rob Brydon) adventure soaring high to delight young audiences the world around.

A perfect little parable shown in Britain on BBC One before making its way to PBS’ Sprout network in the States, there is an infectious goofiness throughout to capture children’s attentions while also tickling the adults watching alongside them. Whether it’s the idiosyncrasies of its characters—Dog’s (Martin Clunes) perpetual joy, Bird’s (Sally Hawkins) tragic solitude, and Frog’s (David Walliams) meticulous hygiene—or the sweetness of the Witch’s desire to help each lost soul she encounters on her seemingly destination-less journey, you’ll have a smile from start to finish. The Dragon (Timothy Spall) on their tail helps with his hilarious body type adding visual laughs while Cat’s refusal to warm to his new broom guests adds an annoyed contrast to their charmingly simplistic natures.

Each character is met courtesy of the scatterbrained Witch constantly dropping things from up high—hat, hair bow, and wand—proving her Cat to be the reasoning anchor of the pair. But despite his calculating mind knowing the capacity of their broom and the problems so many passengers will bring, her constant ability to lead with her heart is the core of what Donaldson and Lang hope to share. The animation’s fun frivolity entertains while these critters gradually learn to work together as the family they’ve become thanks to their maternal ringleader’s compassion. Born out of an intentionally juvenile story that’s earned numerous awards and twenty-one translations, the added star power will only increase its reach to expand its international audience even further.

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