Hello, Spongey here.
Well…this is interesting. It’s already time for out first general review of the 2023, which you may not have expected. We’re in an odd position here. It’s Thursday so I suppose it’s a good time for a throwback. Kids, there was a time where all sorts of animated movie came to actual movie theaters.
You’d have your big studio releases but between these you’d have a smaller ones take your chance. Quality was a gamble, from the pleasant surprises of Sgt Stubby to the not so pleasant Rock Dog and even less pleasant Norm of the North. It was so weird to see ones like that on a big screen. These kept flopping and eventually they released less of those in theaters.
Then they got picker after 2020 and now anything that isn’t a sure bet gets punted to streaming. I get, as some of these should have been there to begin with. But there is something weirdly charming about seeing things like in the place you’d watch the must see stuff.
That’s where this movie comes in. This technically came out at the end of 2022 in the UK, and looking at the list of animated movies of that year is how I first found out about it. I figured if it ever comes out here, it’ll just be on streaming.
Imagine my surprise when my local theater showed they were playing this. I hear it’s not playing in Canada yet so between that and there being no advertising, I assume the 7 bucks this make will come form me. Alright, what about the actual movie itself?
Well, it’s based on one of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. I’m ashamed to say I’m not too familiar with his work outside of some bits here and there. I know his works are pretty acclaimed and all that. There are places you can go for the full info on all that stuff. I’m sure it’s rgeat, I just haven’t explored it that much.
From my research, this is the first big screen adaption of something from that series as everything else has been tv movies or shows. The book this is from was the first in the series for kids, so I guess it was only a matter of time it was made into a family movie.
The director for the movie is Toby Genkel. He’s mostly not so great looking animated stuff with titles like “Little Bird’s Big Adventure”. More notable is the writer, Terry Rossio. He’s mostly with Ted Elliot and had worked on things from Shrek to Aladdin. I couldn’t find much on the studio that made this.
IMDB lists a few and I don’t which is the actual animation studio. Either way, not exactly a household name. Well, let’s see if this is a pleasant surprise that was worth the theater trip.
This, is The Amazing Maurice
Maurice is a streetwise ginger cat who comes up with a money-making scam by befriending a group of talking rats. When Maurice and the rodents reach the stricken town of Bad Blintz, they meet a bookworm named Malicia and their little con soon goes down the drain.
This movie was fine. I suppose it goes into the pleasant surprise camp, given how poor these things can be. It’s not quite as good as I could be but I did like it fine. This will be a short review, hopefully. First off, the animation is good. The designs are standard and it’s nothing fancy beyond some neat 2D bits but it’s well rendered and moves nicely. Nothing fancy but it gets the job done and looks decent.
I’m curious about how it compares to the book, as I can sense certain things that be form there and some stuff that may have toned down. I’m not fully sure but I am interested to learn more. The characters generally worked, and that’s mostly due to the voice acting. High Laurie is good as Maurice with he’s this con cat that mostly stays charming. Despite being the title character, he floats in and out of the story at a certain point but it comes around to remind us he’s the lead, sort of.
This movie has to balance a fair bit, as we have these rats, the humans and the villain. It can struggle to juggle that and we’ll touch on that. Emila Clarke stands out as Malicia as she does make her mostly charming. She has one mixed aspect we will get to but I did enjoy her the most, generally. Keith exists, he gets the job done as more of the everyman. The rats exist and are fine. One of them is named Dangerous Beans but the whole time I thought it was Dangerous Being.
They have odd names which is explained with their backstory. Animals can’t normally talk, just Maurice and the rats due to some backstory. The plot can get a bit interesting in that way. Maurice gets into a liar revealed thing twice but when that comes to light, they move on instead of moping which is good. The villain was a decent threat and the reveal of who they are is…interesting. I didn’t expect it and I liked it but it was under explained.
The story structure can be off at times. It is trying to be unique with defying a few things and not having every expected beat. This can make the plot a bit scattered as it struggles to juggle things. I did check a couple times in the middle. There’s a side bit with a piper that connects more through an object than anything else as the character actually doesn’t tie into the villain.
It comes together fine in the end, but the road getting there has its bumps. There’s a meta aspect to this that will be mixed for some. Malicia has this thing about wanting things to be like a story, as she comments on certain things like Keith’s role. Meta humor/commentary has gotten some backlash since it can be overdone. Here it’s a mixed bag. It’s more a legit part of her character than just for the sake of it. She’s also the narrator in a framing device and explains the whole concept to the kids.
I think Emila Clarke helps make her charming but this aspect can be weak. I think it helps this stand out and can be funny. But it does have these same traditional elements it is commenting on when it could have subverted things a bit more. Her thing is sort of her realizing life isn’t a neatly tight story which is fine but eh, they could have done more with that.
It’s a weird part but I mostly found it charming even if others may find it annoying. As for other stuff, there’s a decent sized wrap up but the 3rd does go for a while. It felt a bit longer than it is. Something happens that is weirdly similar to the last theatrical animated movie, Puss in Boots 2 which was amusing. What happens is sort of nice if kind of a cop out.
It’s a weird movie with what it does and how it does it. I give it for being different in places, even if not everything works perfectly. It still has your traditional family movie elements after all and it can struggle to have everything it wants.
Overall, The Amazing Maurice is a fine movie. It’s not the funniest and the writing can be mixed in a few areas as it juggles everything. But it looks nice, the characters are generally enjoyable and there’s some clever bits in there. You don’t need to rush to see it but it’s not bad for a one time viewing.It would likely work better on steaming but as I said, there’s something charming about seeing something like this in a theater.
You don’t need to see it that way but it’s not a bad time either way. I can see some liking it less or more depending on their sensibilities. For my first time experience Terry Prachett in any way, this wasn’t too bad on its own at least. And…that’s really about it.
Not my most detailed review but there ya go. This came out of nowhere but it was fine for my first theater trip of the year. I’m hoping maybe more of these kind of things come out in theaters, if only for more balance. Anyway, next up is Super Mario Bros with Chris Pratt. I’m cautiously optimistic for the movie itself. Less so the internet reaction. We’ll see how that goes come April.