Have you ever heard of the animated film "Ernest & Celestine"? You probably haven't and that's because it didn't receive a wide release. The film was made in France, starred the fine young actress Mackenzie Foy along with Forrest Whitaker, and focused on the friendship between a mouse named Celestine and a bear named Ernest. I loved the film from beginning to end and it was certainly a sweet animated movie. The reason I say this is because "The Little Prince" is another animated movie that is pretty similar. It was made in France, also starred Mackenzie Foy, focused on a friendship, and didn't get a wide release with the film being released on Netflix in the United States. When I saw that the film was selected for completion at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015 and critics praising the film calling it a beautiful masterpiece, I got interested. I watched the movie after the film was released to Netflix and I'm sad to say that I didn't really enjoy the movie because I couldn't get into this film. I'll try to explain why because honestly it was really hard to follow this film.
The film focuses on a young girl played by Mackenzie Foy. Her mother (Rachel McAdams) is trying to get her into this big academy and decides to prep her throughout the entire summer with a giant schedule telling her to read the schoolbooks and doing complex work. However, an old aviator (Jeff Bridges) gets her distracted and tells her stories about a young boy called The Little Prince (Riley Osborne) and how the aviator met him after crash landing in the Sahara Desert. The girl then skips doing her daily assignments and goes to the old aviator every day and continues listening to the story about the Little Prince, not telling her mother.
From what I just said, it doesn't sound bad at all, but trust me when I say the story is definitely the worst part of this movie. Having never read the book it was based only by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, I judged the film on its own and honestly, it started off decently, but then I got confused with the sections about The Little Prince and then about a third through the movie, I was totally lost. The movie just went spiraling out of control with no focus whatsoever and when the film ended I was left so baffled and confused. The characters didn't really leave much of an impact on me either. They're a couple of reasons for this. One is that they have no names. I mean none whatsoever. The movie just credits them as "The Aviator", "The Mother", or "The Little Girl" and that did get me a little frustrated because I find it lazy when a movie doesn't give characters names. The second problem with them is that I didn't feel they had a clear personality. I mean, some I could understand like The Mother and The Little Girl, but characters like The Aviator and especially The Little Prince had very little to no personalities. As for the animation, I'm pretty split about. The stop motion elements of the movie I think are beautiful. It may not be as good as "Kubo and the Two Strings", but I thought it was pretty well done. They have a paper like feel to them and I definitely could see the craft in them. The computer animation parts, however, seemed amateur to me. I felt like they were done by an animation student and not by professionals which is a problem when you get down to it. I also really hated the cinematography in the film. Most of the shots were straight and didn't have tilts or were shot in different angles, they were just straight and that kind of became irritating after a while. Now I will give the movie credit on this though. The voice acting is outstanding. I thought the characters were well cast and performed and they definitely brought something to the characters, but not a lot.
"The Little Prince" was just a confused mess. I could see something trying to get out of this film, but the story was just too confusing for me to grasp. I really was not impressed, which is a shame as I could see that this film really did try. However, I thought this film was trying to be a nice and sweet animated movie and it failed to accomplish. If you want much better-animated movies that are nice and sweet, might I suggest watching the aforementioned "Ernest & Celestine" or even the director's previous work "Kung Fu Panda". Those movies had much more joy and balance than this film ever did, and besides, they both got Oscar nominations anyway.