The British import “Valiant” is a lackluster Disney computer animated pickup, finding a brief home in theaters before quickly growing old on DVD. With a lack of a funny bone or a decided interest in pace, this cartoon isn’t offensive, but somewhat of a chore to sit through. Only the easy-to-please crowd will respond to this mild entry in the heated race for CG cartoon bucks.During the heat of WWII combat, English pigeons were called into battle to messenger plans from place to place, dodging German hawks as they attempted to clear the battlefield. Eager to help the cause, young Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) enlists in the army, joining a group of rag-tag pigeons (including Hugh Laurie, Rick Gervais, and Jim Broadbent) as they train for the ultimate combat: to infiltrate the lair of evil Von Talon (Tim Curry), steal secret plans, and save a fellow pigeon (John Cleese) held prisoner.
"It can't quite soar with the other birds"
Computer-animated films are red hot right now, and every studio around is throwing their hat into the ring to scoop up some serious coin. “Valiant” is an entry from Britain’s Vanguard Animation, picked up for domestic release by Disney, I assume to prevent anyone else from stealing their Pixar CG thunder. Animated pigeons? British wartime humor? Disney? The mixture is ripe for something amiable, if unremarkable. Sadly, the production forgot the amiable part.
“Valiant” is a harmless motion picture, which is fine for a nose-picking 5 year-old who needs a Sunday distraction, but as a widespread cinematic offering, the picture contains very little substance or magic. One would think that a European production would be free to sauce up the material a little, maybe digging a little deeper with the jokes or the message. However, “Valiant” plays it safe, constructing a featherweight story and failing to produce a laugh during the entire film. Unless, of course, your idea of humor is a female French mouse named Charles De Girl, then “Valiant” will have you rolling in the aisles. Regrettably, that’s pretty much it for wit in the film.
If you take into consideration the voice casting here, the failure to connect jokes is something just a hair beyond astonishing. John Cleese, Tim Curry, Ewan McGregor, and Ricky Gervais all voice enthusiastically, but unremarkably. Gervais especially, as he’s given the burden of pulling comedic bits out of his feathers every single scene he’s in, riffing himself into a stupor. When the “A” material fails, “Valiant” gets desperate, and begins to include every form of internal bodily gas joke in an attempt to pander to children who, to be frank, will most likely be bored by the film. Ug.
I guess I should’ve expected this, since years back, the British-produced family film “Thunderpants” featured a pre-teen who propels himself into space using his flatulence.Bathed in fun sherbet colors, and featuring the strong WWII production design, “Valiant” is good eye candy that suggests a stronger, more enthusiastic time than it actually provides.
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originally posted: 08/19/05 00:04:05