Quite a few animated films have been released so far in 2016, and The Little Prince has topped every one that I've seen. In fact, I could go even further to say that The Little Prince is one of the best animated movies of all time. That's right, The Iron Giant. I said it. Out of every single animated movie I've watched in my life — and I've seen quite a few — The Little Prince managed to grab onto me in a way that few others have.
Just to start things off, the quality of animation is amazing. The movie was directed by Mark Osborne, who also directed Kung-Fu Panda. That means that all of the modern animation was used perfectly in the film, but The Little Prince didn't just use the familiar computer animation. They also brought back the amazing authentic feel of stop-motion animation during the scenes with the Prince himself.
The computer animation is spectacular and dynamic. The quality is on par with recent Illumination Entertainment and Dreamworks films, but the magic of the movie isn't fully captured with modern technology. The stop-motion really taps into your inner whimsy and adventure, using animation styles that we've seen in movies like Wallace & Gromit and Coraline.
The back-and-forth use of the different animation styles beautifully captures the transitions of the two worlds of the film. There's the strict grown-up world, willed with uniformity and bleak colors, and then they switch to stop-motion for the bright and adventurous worlds of the Little Prince.
The Voice Talent
In modern animated films, the voices are often provided by a cast of well-known voice actors (like Firefly's Alan Tudyk, who provided voices in Frozen, Big Hero 6, Wreck-It Ralph, and Zootopia), with a few celebrity names like The Rock in Moana or Idris Elba in Finding Dory.
The Little Prince boasts an all-star cast, filled with names like Jeff Bridges, Paul Rudd, Rachel McAdams, and even Benicio Del Toro. The entire cast does a magnificent job of bringing the characters to life. Bridges adds a layer of reality and experience to the Aviator. Just by the way he speaks you can tell that the Aviator has been through a lot in his life. Even Mackenzie Foy, who voices the little girl, manages to convey both the maturity of her character as well as the whimsical imagination that she wields.
Though a few of the voices are instantly familiar — like Bridges — many of them pass unnoticed. Try to spot James Franco's voice or Albert Brooks' (the voice of Marlin in Finding Nemo), and I bet you'll struggle — they blend in seamlessly.
Although the actual children's book is short and to the point, Mark Osborne brought a whole new approach to it. The book is all about the Aviator as he tells about a time where he crashed his plane into a desert. While trying to fix it, he meets the Little Prince, who tells him about his own stories on different planets. Through the Prince's tales, we learn a lot about how grown-ups feel toward children, and he explains his rudimentary explanation of love.
In the movie, the Aviator is an old man who meets a young girl — our protagonist — who moves in next door. The film takes plenty of time to tell the story of the Aviator and the Prince, but the real struggle is about the little girl who is being forced to grow up too fast.
Throughout the film, we learn many valuable lessons about growing up, imagination, and even a great deal about love. "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly" is perhaps the most inspirational and meaningful quote that I've heard an any recent movie, animated or otherwise.
The Thought-Provoking Ending
Naturally, seeing as I wrote this article with the intent of convincing you to go watch the movie, I won't go and spoil the ending for you. What I will say is that the ending will make you think. A lot. It will hit with children, teenagers, adults, and frankly anyone who watches it.
The ending deals with both friendship and love. It delves into the idea that no matter where you are, your loved ones will always be with you because of the bond that you have built with them over time. That is perhaps one of the strongest lessons that animated movies have tried to teach us.
The movie is perfect for anyone, boasting a fantastic cast of voices, a memorable, heartfelt story and flawless use of multiple kinds of animation. With all of the great animated movies that I've loved through my childhood like The Iron Giant and Shrek 2, they can't compare to the emotional and insightful journey that The Little Prince takes you on.
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What is your favorite animated movie of 2016?
The Little Prince is now streaming on Netflix.