The Wind In The Willows

  • 1997
  • Movie
  • G
  • Children's, Fantasy

A quirky adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic children's book, this oddly theatrical live-action feature stars several members of the Monty Python troupe. Pity poor meek, near sighted Mr. Mole (Steve Coogan): One moment he's placidly white washing his cozy burrow, and the next the ceiling is falling in on his head. The trouble, it turns out, is that...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A quirky adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic children's book, this oddly theatrical live-action feature stars several members of the Monty Python troupe. Pity poor meek, near sighted Mr. Mole (Steve Coogan): One moment he's placidly white

washing his cozy burrow, and the next the ceiling is falling in on his head. The trouble, it turns out, is that pompous Toad (Terry Jones) of Toad Hall has sold his meadow to a pack of conniving weasels who plan to build a giant dog-food factory on the site. Mole appeals to the stuffy but

fundamentally good-natured Rat (Eric Idle) for help; Rat in turn looks to the dyspeptic Badger (Nicol Williamson) for assistance in showing Toad the error of his ways and dealing with the weasels. The dual decisions to opt for live-action rather than animation and to forgo elaborate special

effects pretty much guarantees this eccentrically charming picture limited box-office, and that's too bad. Though aimed squarely at children, its gentle wit, imaginative set design and preference for character development over noisy spectacle will come as a pleasant relief to many parents (who

will also smile at such conceits as the ever-amorous rabbits, who always seem to be snogging -- discreetly, of course -- behind bushes). The songs are instantly forgettable -- though the weasels' nasty anthem is handsomely staged -- and Grahame's satirical digs at the British class system are

soft-pedaled almost out of existence. But the cast brings the story's personable creatures to life with only the barest help from makeup and costumes: Rat has whiskers and a long tail, Mole an upturned nose and Toad green skin and an alarming tongue. As is often the case in children's stories, the

fun really starts when the bad guys arrive; the sleazy weasels, hair teased into stylized ears and tails hanging out from under dashing, ankle-length dusters, are an entertainingly bad lot with slightly creepy, fascistic overtones. Python Michael Palin -- the voice of Rat in an earlier,

animated WIND IN THE WILLOWS -- has a nice cameo as the cheery but businesslike Sun. "Sorry, can't," he says, when the nervous Mole implores him to shine a bit longer.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: G
  • Review: A quirky adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic children's book, this oddly theatrical live-action feature stars several members of the Monty Python troupe. Pity poor meek, near sighted Mr. Mole (Steve Coogan): One moment he's placidly white washing his… (more)

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