“Thumbelina” stars Jodi Benson, Gary Imhoff, Gino Conforti, and Joe Lynch. Released on March 30, 1994, the film is about a tiny girl who is trying to find her way back home and to her true love.
The film is directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, who also worked on films such as The Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time, and All Dogs Go to Heaven. It is based on the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen. This is one of the animated films from Don Bluth Entertainment that suffered from box office losses and negative reviews from critics. In fact, this film earned just over $11 million with the budget being $28 million (Yikes). But you want to know something? This is one of my childhood films growing up, besides Disney films. I still have the VHS cover of the film, but I haven’t been watching it that often. Since I have nothing better to do, I thought I would give this film another look at in a critique point of view. It’s been almost 22 years since it first debuted in theaters, but is it still worth a recommendation?
One of the few things that were good about this film are the voice performances. They’re nothing special, but some of them were quite decent. One in particular is Jodi Benson as the title character. Benson is known for voicing Ariel from the 1989 film, The Little Mermaid. Again, not only did she provide some respectable voice work, but she has the most wonderful singing voice. I like the character of Thumbelina because she never lets anyone get in her way of reuniting with her true love, a fairy prince named Cornelius (voiced by Gary Imhoff). The film also had some other actors that worked with Disney before, such as Gilbert Gottfried (who voiced Iago in Aladdin) and Kenneth Mars (who voiced King Triton in The Little Mermaid). Kind of makes me question why this movie is not made by Disney itself. The animation is also impressive and colorful, but it does have its slight hiccups. The world around Thumbelina works well with the animation, but compared to the other animated films before it, it’s pretty lackluster. But if there’s one thing I should admit about this film, it’s the amount of charm it has and how harmless it is. The story is as sweet as the little jitterbugs and did I mention it’s somewhat harmless? We’re living in a world where films were filled with mature themes, superheroes, and demons haunting people, so for this film, it makes sense that they played it safe. It pretty much depends on how you’re feeling towards it.
Even though the story is child-friendly and simple to follow, there were times where it can get a bit too far with its sweetness and childish humor, which could alienate some adults. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that this film is a musical...Yayyy?? Don’t get me wrong, I liked some of the songs that were in there, like “Soon” and “Follow Your Heart”, but they’re not as memorable as the other Disney musicals like The Lion King or The Little Mermaid. I know, I keep comparing this film to the animated films that Disney made, but there’s a reason why. I think this film is trying to be like Disney. Think about it, the musical numbers, the actors that worked with Disney. It all makes sense now...
Overall, “Thumbelina” is a sweet, child-friendly animated flick that does have its problems like its lackluster songs and unmemorable characters, but its voice performances and animation are enough to prove that nothing is impossible (for the most part). As an adult, I can honestly say that despite its flaws, I still enjoyed this film. I know, it’s pretty embarrassing. A 22-year-old film critic like me who enjoys watching a kids film about a tiny beautiful girl falling in love, but hey, that’s how I roll. I would possibly recommend this film to people who have little kids. To those who haven’t seen it before, it’s worth watching once, and remember, you’re sure to do impossible things if you follow your heart.