Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG Length: 87 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 5+. The film combines many different fairy tales in its story about how heroes can come in any size, so there are some familiar elements here: a princess who can only be saved by true love’s kiss, an evil witch who intends to harm an entire kingdom, some fantastical violence (including ice monsters), lots of romance stuff (basically the previously mentioned kissing), and some discussions about death, including the possible death of the princess and a dragon thinking about killing himself.
‘The Seventh Dwarf’ mashes together a variety of well-known children’s stories, but its own narrative never gets off the ground. The film is too busy trying to be clever and acknowledging other fairy tales to make a case for its own existence.
By Roxana Hadadi
Do young children really understand inside jokes? That seems to be the methodology of animated film “The Seventh Dwarf” – to nod at other well-known fairy tales throughout the movie – but picking and choosing elements from so many other fairy tales does it a disservice. The story is so packed with characters who are tangential to the story – like Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Puss’n Boots – that it fails to invest enough time in itself. You’ll care more about the characters making brief cameos than the supposed protagonists of the main narrative.
The computer-animated film, with a glossy-but-not-naturalistic shine (the characters suffer from that dead-eye effect that so many CGI creations can have), is set in the kingdom of Fantabularasa, where many fairy-tale characters live, and they’re all gathering to celebrate the 18th birthday of their princess, Rose (voiced by Peyton List, of “Something Borrowed”). Years ago, a with warned that if Rose pricked her finger, the entire kingdom would fall asleep, so Rose’s otherwise-disinterested father (who spends most of his time ruling the kingdom slumped in front of a TV) forces her to wear a suit of armor her entire life as a way to protect her.
What he doesn’t know, though, is that the armor hasn’t deterred kitchen boy Jack (voiced by James Frantowski), who has been in a forbidden relationship with Rose. But when Rose reads in her tarot cards that Jack is in danger from the witch, she sends him away to live with the Seven Dwarves. But they’re on their way to the castle to celebrate her birthday, and their klutzy, smallest member Bobo (voiced by Joshua Graham), ends up being partly responsible for Rose falling under the evil witch Dellamorta’s (voiced by Nina Hagen, of “Maya the Bee Movie”) spell.
Embarrassed by the harm they’ve caused but unhurt by the spell that has left everyone else in the kingdom frozen, the dwarves set out from the castle to find Jack and bring him back so he can awaken Rose with love’s one true kiss. But they don’t know that he’s been kidnapped by Dellamorta’s dragon, Burner (voiced by Norm MacDonald, of “Grown Ups”), and what they thought would be an easy rescue may be more difficult than they initially imagined. Can heroes come in all sizes? Can Bobo and Co. put right what they did wrong?
This is a movie aimed toward very young children, so some narrative shortcuts can be forgiven; the film doesn’t really need to explain why Rose’s father doesn’t seem to have any interest in her or what Dellamorta’s endgame really is. But it’s more interested in being clever than building characters or a believable world: Naming the romantic leads Rose and Jack is momentarily funny for anyone who has seen “Titanic,” but failing to give them any distinguishable personality traits isn’t as amusing. The dwarves introduce themselves through a song-and-dance number and Burner the dragon likes to tap dance, but those elements are wheezing gasps at humor if anything.
Then there’s the weird stuff, like a jellyfish and a merman that the dwarves meet who are clearly African-American stereotypes (they’re rappers covered in bling, which seems very incongruous); that’s an uncomfortable few minutes of badly delivered slang and caricatures. And, most irritatingly, is how many things “The Seventh Dwarf” swipes from other pop culture: Rose’s head-to-toe outfits are like Elsa’s in “Frozen,” as are Dellamorta’s ice monsters; a food fight between the dwarves that includes slow-motion effects like in the sci-fi action movie “The Matrix”; and a song about the meaning of true love that is basically a rip-off of John Lennon’s classic song “Imagine.”
There’s barely anything original in “The Seventh Dwarf,” and what is in there isn’t very good. The film may work for very young viewers, but even then it drags at around 87 minutes and once again populates the girls-are-only-to-be-saved narrative myth. There are too many better children’s movies out there that make it unnecessary to purposefully seek out “The Seventh Dwarf.”
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