This cleverly told animated World War II adventure aims high and scores a pretty lofty goal. While attempting to turn the real history the homing pigeons used to carry vital information during wartime into a parody of classic war movies that only adults would know it still manages to be vibrant and funny enough for much younger audiences to enjoy. England, 1944: World War II is in full swing and the forces of the Royal Homing Pigeon Service (RHPS) are rapidly dwindling due to causalities caused by enemy German falcons. When the call goes out via a propaganda film for more fine-feathered recruits, a half-pint-size pigeon named Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) decides to offer up his services. He flees the nest and soars the 50 miles to London. Upon arriving in the big city, Valiant runs into Bugsy (Ricky Gervais), a disheveled, shell-game hustling pigeon who agrees to help the smaller lad find the nearest RHPS Headquarters, especially if it means saving his own tail feathers from a group of angry marks. Bugsy, however, is caught completely off guard when he himself is recruited into the service; apparently, the fact that the piggy pigeon is constantly surround by a halo of flies isn't enough to disqualify him during tough times. The duo is dispatched to basic training, but their lessons are cut short when Wing Commander Gutsy (Hugh Laurie) returns from battle with an urgent mission. The ragtag Squad F — which now includes Bugsy and Valiant and a few other odd ducks, er, pigeons — must retrieve from enemy hands the message that was intercepted when a brave bird, Mercury (John Cleese), was captured. Crossing into enemy territory, however, isn't nearly as difficult as slipping past evil General Von Talon (Tim Curry), a German falcon whose extreme torture method involves — gasp! — polka music. It's a rather simplistic war parable — good and evil are straightforward and clearly defined — but that's only to be expected in a movie aimed primarily at kids, and the tiny-but-mighty underdog hero works well with moral of the tale. Older audiences who were enchanted with the quick and well-crafted jokes of CHICKEN RUN (2000) will be similarly charmed by the veddy British sensibility that's at play here, while enjoying the talented voice work. While the target audience won't be as familiar with the voice of Gervais as with, say, Eddie Murphy, they'll no doubt love his dirty bird humor.
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