Space Fables

Meet the Fresh Prince of Asteroid 325

Film by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

The Little Prince
RPL Film Theatre
June 18-19
3.5 out of 5

Last March, Paramount was supposed to release The Little Prince in the U.S. With little notice and no explanation, the launch was scrapped. Cut to three months later: the same studio puts out Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Because the names Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo don’t roll off the tongue, the anthropomorphized reptiles are now known as Donnie, Leo, Raph and Mikey.

Without venturing into ulterior motives, it’s fair to say The Little Prince stands against everything the latest TMNT incarnation represents.

A loose adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella, this version of The Little Prince combines the classic tale (the friendship between a stranded pilot and a young prince) with the story of an overworked girl who rediscover the power of imagination. Against all odds, the scheme works — at least the first half.

The child in question, daughter of a type-A single mother (Rachel McAdams), is spending her summer cramming before joining a prestigious academy. Her regimented to a fault existence comes crashing down when she meets her neighbor, an aging aviator (Jeff Bridges) perpetually repairing his plane and hoping to one day take off.

Characters like the helicopter parent and the stressed out, overachieving child are seldom seen in kids’ movies, and represent the perfect foil for the Little Prince. The film excels at establishing the sameness of a world dominated by duties and responsibilities: reality is CGI animated (polished, uninteresting), while the straight-from-the-book segments use stop-motion (shaggier, infinitely richer) to great effect.

Towards the end, both storylines merge in an ambitious but ultimately unsatisfactory conclusion. The film could have used more of the original material, but as children-oriented movies go, The Little Prince has more to offer than your average popcorn flick. The story is as rich as ever and continues to morph with age. Bonus points for the perfect casting of Ricky Gervais as The Conceited Man and Benicio del Toro as The Snake.