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The Independent Critic

Directed by:
Max Lang, Jakob Schuh
Written by:
Julia Donaldson (book), Axel Scheffler (book), Julia Donaldson, Max Lang, Jakob Schuh
Vocal Work by:
Helena Bonham Carter, James Corden, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt, Rob Brydon
Running Time:
40 Mins.
NCircle (DVD)
Making of "The Gruffalo"

 "The Gruffalo" Review 
An all-star cast does the vocal work for The Gruffalo, an Oscar and BAFTA award nominated film for Best Animated Short based upon Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's acclaimed book of the same name.

In this delightful nearly 27-minute short, a mother squirrel (Helena Bonham Carter) tells a story to her children of a Mouse (James Corden) goes for a walk in the forest while outwitting a series of predators on his way to visit, or at least saying he's on his way to visit, the mysterious Gruffalo (Robbie Coltrane). The predators include a Fox (Tom Wilkinson), Owl (John Hurt) and Snake (Rob Brydon).

It is refreshing to have a children's story brought to life without the unnecessary filler all too common in Hollywood these days, where 10-page books can suddenly become two hour movies that have very little to do with the actual original story. Such is not the case with The Gruffalo, a faithful and beautifully realized tale that is both intelligent and sensitively written with stellar vocal work across the board.

Smaller children may need a bit of assurance, as Mouse occasionally envisions himself being eaten by the predators he encounters, however, for the most part The Gruffalo is a tremendous film for children of all ages (and already available on DVD in the U.K., but not yet in the states). The Gruffalo features one of 2010's best short film original scores from Rene Aubry, with excellent camera work by Ulli Hadding and Hubert Markl.

This is Jakob Schuh's third directorial effort, while marking the debut of Max Lang. Clearly, both are promising young directors to be watched in the future. While the 2011 Best Animated Short Oscar field is a bit weak, The Gruffalo is no doubt a stand-out and easily one of the front-runners to take home awards in both the U.K. and the U.S.