The Mouse That Roared: The Gruffalo (Film Review)

The mouse meets the predators

The Gruffalo is a charming animated short film about a mouse who encounters danger while on a journey to an acorn tree.

Based on the award-winning children’s book The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & Alex Scheffler, a mouse goes on a journey to a distant acorn tree where he encounters three predators (a fox, an owl and a snake) who think he looks like a tasty meal. Each of these animals, clearly intending to eat the mouse, invites him back to their home for a meal. To save himself from the perilous situations, he uses cunning to outsmart his would-be eaters by telling them he’s meeting with a creature called the Gruffalo, a terrifying monster that’s described by the mouse through poetry. Out of fear, each of the predators let him go due to unfounded fear of meeting the Gruffalo. Much to the mouse’s surprise, the creature he invented really exists.

Directors Jakob Schuh and Max Lang keep the film thoughtfully paced and allow the audience to take in the story as it unfolds. You never get the feeling the filmmakers are rushing through scenes or filling the story with unnecessary plot devices. The attention to detail with delicate story elements makes full use of props to further the plot, such as a log floating in a stream that is used to heighten a sense of peril when the owl confronts the mouse.

Carefully fashioned to match the illustrations of the children’s book, the character designs and practical sets are combined seamlessly to make the film visually appealing. The gentle animation fits into the film’s universe perfectly, and non-verbal communication is used extensively as character exposition. There are scenes where the mouse imagines himself being eaten by the predator. These add a layer of humor that is easily understandable.

The soundtrack, composed by Rene Aubry, matches the lyrical feeling of the film perfectly. In what is one of the most beautiful compositions you’ll hear in a short film, it is carefully constructed to heighten the emotions of the subtle performances.

The story of The Gruffalo is simple yet fulfilling. The film teaches size doesn’t matter and in the end, it’s wit that overcomes obstacles. Parents will enjoy spending time with their kids watching this gem and relish the joy of passionate storytelling.

The film was produced by Michael Rose and Martin Pope of Magic Light Pictures, London, in association with Studio Soi in Ludwigsburg, Germany. The film features Robbie Coltrane as the Gruffalo, James Corden as the mouse, Helena Bonham Carter as the mother squirrel (the film’s narrator), Rob Brydon as the snake, John Hurt as the owl and Tom Wilkinson as the fox.

The Gruffalo was originally broadcasted on BBC One in the United Kingdom in December 2009. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) in 2010. It premiered in the United States on ABC Family during its 25 Days of Christmas programming block back in December 2010.

You can follow David Derks on Twitter at @dderks

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2 Responses to “The Mouse That Roared: The Gruffalo (Film Review)”

  1. JasonAcee says:

    I’ve heard about this film, thanks for posting about it. Looks fun

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