Draw an adaptation of a famous book if you please.
Trying to adapt a classic children’s book is a tall order for any animator, particularly if the source material takes a little under an hour to read. It doomed all of the Dr. Seuss adaptations because the animators kept making so much shit up to meet the bare minimum of a feature film that the original point of the books were completely lost in translation. So how does the adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book fare?
Well for starters, we aren’t following the titular Little Prince initially. We’re instead introduced to a nameless girl who’s mother (Rachel McAdams) is hell bent on getting her into a prestigious prep school so she “can be an efficient adult.” But the plan goes awry as the girl befriends an old eccentric aviator who tells the girl the story of his friend, The Little Prince, through his fanciful drawings.
When the film decides to tell the original story of “The Little Prince,” the movie comes alive through some imaginative paper stop motion animation. It truly feels like Saint-Exupéry’s drawings coming to life before your eyes as the odd tale of the Prince unfurls. The only problem is, this about a third of the actual movie. The other two thirds are dedicated to this relationship between the Aviator and the Little Girl. Slightly disappointing for a film called “The Little Prince” but the exchange isn’t horrible…its just not memorable either.
When I think of a geriatric person forming a friendship with a young kid, the relationship needs to have a great exchange of back and forth otherwise it feels “hollow” or “creepy.” In The Little Prince it’s just empty. I really didn’t feel the relationship between the Aviator and the Little Girl at all. And that sucks because they’re essentially the main characters…as opposed to, you know, The Little Prince.
Why the filmmakers chose to do a framing story around The Little Prince is beyond me. And what puzzled me more is that they made this framing bit 2/3 of the total run time. So you barley get to spend any time with the original story…and to the film’s detriment, it chooses to base it’s entire final third act on following the Little Girl. Said ending, without wishing to spoil, ends up serving as a pseudo-sequel to “The Little Prince.”
In case you have read “The Little Prince” you know good and goddamn well the ending to the book doesn’t exactly scream sequel hook. But that’s exactly what you get in this movie, and it really doesn’t click. Honestly it’s kind of a mess of an ending they came up with that takes away from the original point of the book’s ending.
Hell the messages of the original book are sort of introduced then dropped completely. Only the message of trying to stay young at heart while growing old is the only of the book’s messages that remained intact. And even that the film handles pretty clumsily as it rushes through the story of The Little Prince by going through the exhange with each of the inhabitants of the various asteroids and the animals in the desert surprisingly quickly.
And here is where the movie wastes solid actors like Benecio del Toro, James Franco, Paul Giamatti, and Marion Cotillard in tiny, TINY roles. So much money was spent on these big name actors that it was a wonder why the American producers spent so much damn money and chose NOT to release it through Paramount. Thankfully, a Netflix deal was reached so everyone can check the film for themselves.
And if I’m being honest, that’s exactly how this movie should be watched, because it is a beauty to watch especially for the 30 or so minutes this was an adaptation of “The Little Prince.” Just a shame the movie around it couldn’t have been as great. This is a positive….