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  • I once saw this film when I was a small child. I don't know how old, and I barely remembered anything of it, but for some reason, something was causing this full-length, animated movie to stick in the back of my mind for years as I was growing up. I realized that until I fulfilled this desire to see this film again, some part of me would be at unrest. Now, a good 15 years later and a young adult with more money and quite a different mind, I was finally able to purchase a used, rental copy.

    I wasn't sure at first how I would react. Would I consider this film childish now? Made in 1977, would it show its age considerably?

    I would hate to give away too much of the film, as I firmly believe it must be seen to be understood. The story is simple; a toy mouse and his 'child' embark on a quest to become 'self-winding'. In other words, a journey from childhood to adulthood, from being a robot doing what we are told without question, to becoming an individual with the capability to carry out our own passions and desires. Along their twisted and unsure way to self-fulfillment, they meet a fortune-telling frog, a windup elephant, a muskrat, and other friends, while avoiding the antagonist, the despicable Manny the Rat.

    This probably sounds terrible about right here, but I can assure you that the film is likely nothing that you are thinking it is. This is not a Disney usical, nor does it try to be something that it isn't. It is a story about love, inspiration, and the following and actualization of one's dreams. It is a story about cruelty, defeat, and cowardice. Most of all, it is a story about human life, and the sacrifices we make in the journey to discover our purpose, our place in the world.

    This film is never cheap, never purposely cute, and never insults the viewer. The animation is not overdone, and attention is paid to detail in all the right places. The settings are wonderful and really add to the story and the situation the main characters are in. The music sets just the right mood at the right times.

    I may have enjoyed this film as a child, and I'm not sure what kept it on the back burner through the years at all, but I can definitely say as an adult now the film moved me more than it ever could have as a child. I was literally in tears after the final scene, staring at the credits in silent applause. I had finally found why I couldn't forget about this film, and that is simply because it was excellent and very touching.

    Disney may have the special effects, the storybook plots, and the musical majesty. However, when examining a film at deeper than surface level, Disney in all its camaraderie can't touch this powerful and effective film that tells a story about the human condition and how simply unfair life can be.

    4 Stars. Probably one of the least acclaimed (and most deserving) animated films I have ever had the pleasure of viewing.
  • This was one of the first movies I ever saw. I must have been a

    toddler, barely able to form words when I first saw it. Up until this

    past week, the last time I had seen this movie I was probably five

    years old, but in spite of my young age I never forgot it.

    Most of the comments I have seen made by others mention things

    like, "this movie probably isn't suited for young children", however I

    adored this movie as a very young child, and can honestly say that

    I think this movie had a profound effect on who I am today.

    Some things embed themselves in your memory in a lasting way

    that others do not, this movie was one of those things. A simple

    cartoon, but so much more. The memory of this movie has always

    been with me, and it has always affected me more than many

    memories I have of things that I actually experienced. I thought that

    I would never see it again and it would remain a memory until I

    managed to pick up a copy on ebay last week. When the movie

    started after I pressed play on my VCR, it was like stepping back

    into time and reconnecting with myself at age four.

    I remembered every visual, every spoken word, my memory just

    needed to be jogged. This film is amazingly poignant, deeply

    thoughtful, and insightful. I feel lucky that I saw it at such a young

    age and grew up with its message in my heart.

    The movie opens up with a homeless man scrounging through

    garbage cans, even though I was only a toddler when I first saw

    this movie, I remember immediately feeling compassion for this

    character, and for other characters throughout. The thing about this

    movie that makes it great is not its ability to entertain, but its ability

    to make you feel.

    A toy wind-up mouse and his child awaken to consciousness in a

    toy shop after hours. "Papa, where are we? What are we?" asks

    the child mouse. "I don't know son," is all the father can offer. They

    learn that they are toys, and must do what they are intended to do:

    be wound up and walk in a circle. The child mouse is distraught;

    he doesn't want to go out into the world, he wants to stay in the toy

    shop and have a family with the other toys. They fall off of the shelf

    and are broken and later taken out with the trash.

    In one of the movie's more poignant moments, the mouse child

    says, "Papa, is THIS the world?" while they are helplessly caught

    in a pile of trash. "I hope not," answers the father.

    They wind up being found by Manny the Rat, a wonderfully crafted

    villain who enslaves toys to do his bidding until they are old and of

    no use. In a particularly horrific scene, an old wind up donkey is

    unhinged into spare parts after collapsing from exhaustion. The

    mouse and his child spend the rest of the movie trying to escape

    from Manny and become "self-winding" so that they no longer have

    to depend on someone for their well-being.

    The messages in this movie are deep and profound, but the more

    general messages are not so symbolic that they are lost on a

    child. This movie does so much more than the average "children's

    movie", it does not set out to entertain, it sets out to tell a brilliant

    story with morals and it succeeds beautifully.

    In a time where cartoon villains are usually a mix of the comical,

    ugly and detestable, Manny is a breath of fresh air and far more

    "real" of a villain. A character driven by greed and power, he also

    maintains a shred of humanity, enough that when he meets his

    downfall at the movie's end, you still manage to feel compassion

    for him. This is not a movie where the child roots for the good guys

    and rejoices when the bad guy is defeated. This is a story where

    the child sees that there is good in evil and evil in good, and that

    love and compassion is the only power that truly matters.

    If only more children's movies were like The Mouse and Child and

    didn't fall prey to the "short attention span" myths. While I'll admit

    that this movie probably isn't for some children, it is miles ahead of

    any other children's movie that I've seen in terms of content. If you

    want your child to sit still for 90 minutes and have mindless prattle,

    catchy songs and potty humor sieved through their brain, then this

    movie is not for you. But if you're looking for your child to actually

    learn something about life and the world, then you have found

    what you're looking for.
  • I was seven years old when this film came out, and probably around 8 or 9 when I first saw it on HBO. Now, at 31, I still can remember with startling clarity almost every detail of this movie! Is it dark? Yes. Is it deep? Yes. But what a great way to introduce pre-pre teens to higher concepts of philosophy! If you are tired of your youngsters filling up on the piffle that passes for children's movies and are looking for something more, this is the film for you. The plot is definitely heavy- lots of emphasis on philosophical concepts and deeper modes of thought; but it will stick with you and your child, and give lots of topics to converse on that go beyond "princess meets prince" threads that permeate most movies available for this age group.

    I would strongly suggest that the parent view the film with the child (and probably recommend that parents watch the movie first without the kiddies- so to be prepared for the inevitable questions when viewed with children). A fantastic way to make a child think, instead of burst into song!
  • THE MOUSE AND HIS CHILD is a symbolic study of human suffering that apparently was palmed off as a kiddie cartoon feature because of it's characters(A clockwork toy mouse and his son).This film, however, has very little that recommends it as a typical children's cartoon--it's dark, with somber colors, no chirpy songs, no silly sidekicks or lame comedy. The mouse and his child fall from the safety of their toy store window and are cast out with the garbage, after which they roam around the outside world, looking to be "self-winding". Along the way they encounter various nefarious characters, including a rat who exploits worn-out toys by forcing them to labor for him hauling scavenged items from the garbage. See the symbolism yet? I didn't when I first saw this thing when I was six, but, in regard to the reviewer who wondered if children would "get" this movie, I can say that I felt sadness for these two little toy mice, struggling to find their way in a cruel world, and wondered if they would ever be safe. I knew that the rat was the bad guy, and that the mice would have to escape him if they were to find what they wanted. There's nothing here that I believe would disturb a child, it's grim tone won't endear the movie to most families. While children might not understand the symbolic signifigance of all they see, they can understand the mice's need to belong and be happy, which is what the film is about. Try this film if you sicken from the sugar supplied by the recent Disney offerings; this one offers substantial food for thought
  • Where in the hell did the public get off not going see this wonderful animated gem? This movie is AMAZING! The surreal animation and the deep meanings...these could really change a kid's life and give them a better understanding of life. The performances, the art...the music... There is so much to say that is good about this film. I truly feel this is one of the most perfect films I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.

    The novel this wonderful film is based on is also great. Well, Greatness spawns greatness. This film is wonderful...wonderful. The plot, the writing...See for yourself and "Be Happy".
  • Much of the confusion with this film I think stems from its' source, (Russell Hoban's Mouse and his Child) which was never really intended as a children's book, but got marketed as such anyway (which makes sense, as it uses all the devices of talking animal fantasy). But the book's popularity in the UK (I gather it is now a classic there, while out of print in the US) apparently convinced the film makers it was a great idea for a kiddie flick. The end result though feels as though it has one foot firmly planted in cartoons-for-children and the other amongst psychedelic film directors like Jardowosky, or even coping a feel from boorman's film zardoz. For my own tastes, that makes high entertainment, and already a hoban fan, the film was if anything slightly disappointing as it is somewhat more fluffy then the book (less spontaneous deaths, more happy reunions), but it seems many of the books strengths remained in tack, and the film has it's own funk going on. Although you'll be pressed to find it in your video store, it's worth hunting down. But will kids be able to make heads or tails of it?
  • Many people say this is actually an adult film, and not for children. I don't think so. Some adults appreciate it. They get the message, or think they do, but the book and the film draw primarily from a child's view of life. Most of the author's (Russell Hoban) books are of a dark tone. They ultimately celebrate the triumph of light over darkness but the darkness is there to begin with. Even his simplest children's books such as The Stone Doll of Sister Brute and A Bargain for Frances deal with pain, sorrow, loss and forgiveness. Hoban knew that children live in a world that is much too big for them. To them, everything is a potential source of danger. This film captures the child's experience of life beautifully. The child starts out totally dependent upon the father. They wander through a hostile landscape looking for answers, for meaning. The child is confused and ignorant, and the father, to his great credit, is able to admit that he is too. The father, however, takes the lead and tries to interpret their experiences. They meet others, some helpful, some harmful, and eventually they separate from each other and are able to stand and walk and move through the world as independent partners. Much of what happens is cryptic and it's probably a mistake to look too deeply for meanings. Just remember that essentially it's a story about a child and his father learning to get along in a difficult world, overcoming obstacles and ultimately making a home for themselves and their loved ones. And that's all any child, or adult, really wants.
  • I aquired my own copy of "the Mouse and His Child" from a video store that (go figure) was just going to throw it away. I hadn't seen it in many years but I did remember it as being good.

    Well, memory served me well, but not in the way I'd expected!

    I can see why the store was so desperate to get rid of this one. Aparently, these days, you aren't going to make it in the Family section (and this really belongs in with the anime and the Bakshi) if you're quiet and introspective. This is one of the heaviest animated films ever made, but I admire it for that. Check it out, if you're able to.

    What, you've never seen a cartoon where the characters contemplate infinity?
  • This movie helped me along the path to liking stories with more than talking animals and large Disney Musical Productions, though there's a place for those in my viewing. This movie led me to un-childish series (mostly Japanese) with deep meanings and messages. Deep as Akira (though more comprehensible) and just as dark, this story tells about a toy "family" and a toy child's desperate wish for the family to find itself again and stay together despite cruel enemies and crueler friends. Having read the book again recently, it seems that stories Such as "Toy Story" and "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" took a little from this story's soul.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A brilliant cartoon from the 70's based on a book with the same title. I've never read the book,but as a cartoon this is one of the best. Very sad,surreal,dark and even very disturbing in some places(Especially when the donkey gets ripped apart or when the mice got crushed by a rock). I was quite old when i saw this(14 yrs)and it was still upsetting(and heartbreaking, i almost cried in some scenes). The music is wonderful,especially the theme song,one of the loveliest songs i've heard in my life.But still i'd rather watch a movie that makes me think about it long after it ended than just another sugar coated hypocritical Disney-esquire movie. This is not just a kids' movie, as i said i watched it when i was quite old and still found it interesting and intriguing. I've never seen a cartoon that's as thought-provoking as this. This is a work of art(but sadly very few have heard of it,while everybody's seen The Lion King which was stolen from the Japanese manga Kimba!). Anyway,i'd recommend this to older kids and any adults willing to watch something new and unexpected from an animation whose target audience is supposed to be kids. 10/10
  • This is one of those movies that dances the line between really dark and disturbing and heartwarming and sentimental. It does both reasonably well, but neither outstandingly. While it doesn't really do justice to the most memorable and poignant themes from Russell Hoban's wonderful book, it does manage to condense the more significant ones onto the screen, putting them in a framework that children might more easily relate to. Hoban's critical edge is somewhat dulled in the movie, and his more overt commentaries on social institutions like militia, the arts and the abstract sciences don't pack the same kind of punch in the film as they did in the book. Although I must admit that in some ways, the re-written ending is a little more believable than the original, even if it is more predictable.

    The casting, at least, stands up well. The windup mice maintain a certain amount of innocence and apathy throughout their trials, which is essential to their characters, and helps the humor of the movie. Ustinov does a great job of making Manny Rat both despised and pathetic at the same time. The supporting cast is equally appropriate, and many of the voices are recognizable. The animation style is typical for the time, and doesn't seem to have been well-tailored to the story. There are a few points at which you could swear you were watching an episode of Schoolhouse Rock. Aside from the actual story changes, the visual style seems like the biggest departure from the original concept of the book. I would have preferred to see something a bit less fluid and cartoonish, with a little more emphasis on realism.

    This is certainly not a movie for everyone. It's sweet, but by no means sugar-coated. It touches (lightly) on some pretty weighty issues that most people wouldn't expect to encounter in an animated children's movie - especially one that's roughly thirty years old. And while I do think that young children would appreciate this film, there are a few disturbing scenes. Nothing graphic, but it may be stuff that some children aren't used to. This is definitely not Disney.

    That said, The Mouse & His Child is overall a good movie. Kids and adults can both get something out of it. If you don't go into it with too high expectations (especially if you've read the book), you're likely to be pleasantly surprised. I definitely recommend watching it if you can get your hands on a copy.
  • meganrrose6 April 2006
    I was recently on a optical illusion website that showed the Dorste trick. I instantly remembered the movie that has been in the back of mind since childhood. The arbitrary recollections I've gotten during my adulthood and my recent visit to that web site made me look the this movie on IMDb. What an amazing discovery that someone else experienced the same memories and fondness of this movie. I have not yet found it to watch, yet I know once I see it again, a wave of satisfaction will settle into me and I'll be six years old again.

    I am hoping my future experience with this movie will provide the same level of understanding as the other person who submitted. I can readily remember the values and lessons taught in the movie. I remember rooting for the characters, feeling their sadness and joy. I remember snapshots of the movie and my exact feelings at that moment. It's truly a magical movie that touches you for life. It isn't commercialized and "trying too hard" like other children's movies. It's honest, somewhat difficult, and gives you hope.
  • 'The Mouse and His Child' is a children's film about a father and son toy mouse who are part of the same toy but who have the desire to be separated so they can wind themselves. The two become separated, and they meet several interesting characters along the way and at the hands of a troublesome rat. At one point, while trying to find their way back, they talk about 'infinity' and there is a never-ending cycle or puzzle in the picture (and inner picture) on a tin of dog food, and this picture repeats into infinity. This is a darker and deeper children's film, and it's not one of those films where everything is happy and content. This is a film that will make you think, and it is one that will be remembered. I remember it now, fifteen years after I last saw it. This is a film determined to let children see what life is about instead of sugar-coating it. It is sad and uncomfortable at times, and there are not any answers in black or white, good or evil. It's a film that is mature in its approach and honest in its portrayal of life and the world. I believe that this film should be shown to children to help them understand life better; I believe that this true-to-life and slightly-disturbing film should be shown along with other children's films (Bambi, Toy Story, etc.) so children can learn and further develop and understand that the world is not always a sweet place that some films portray it to be.
  • Vastarien20228 September 2005
    I saw this movie long ago when I was around 4 years old..I regret that I have not seen it since,(I'm 28 now) but I always had a special place in my heart for it, and I have been trying ever since to find it. I remember the poor donkey being torn apart because he couldn't work anymore, and the mice being sad because they couldn't wind themselves. I finally got to read the book, which I'd never known existed, and I cried when I finished it. I finally understood exactly why this movie remained with me for so long, but it's not easy to put into words. I have carried this with me in my heart since I was 4, and have never given up looking for it. Some kind soul put it up on youtube in its entirety, so at last I may see it again before I die. If you can, watch it, and take it with you. I am who I am because of this story, and when you see it, you'll know why I never gave up on it, not even after 20+ years of searching.
  • Well, I saw this movie was I was quite little... "family" they categorize it. HA! It made me cry and I made my dad turn it off! So I decided to give it another go some almost 20 years later... and its still one of the most disturbing animations I've ever seen (and I've seen quite a few!). Its twisted and depressing, and deals with some rather adult issues (not sex or anything like that, just mature things like loss, death, and infinity) Nevertheless, it is an unusual film with interesting ideas and themes--definitely do NOT recommend for children. If you're looking for something really offbeat, this is it, just be prepared to feel uncomfortable while watching it.
  • k_bee16 November 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    This movie came up tonight during a dinner conversation with friends so I Googled it and ended up here. I enjoyed lurking and reading people's comments. And then I read this: "There's nothing here that I believe would disturb a child..." Uh, sure. My mother, older sisters and I saw this movie in the theater in 1977, so I was 4 or 5 years old. To this day I vividly remember seeing the movie well as my incessant, inconsolable sobbing at the (SPOILER) previously mentioned rock crushing scene.

    Yes, yes, it was a different time back then and probably kids today are exposed to much worse day in and day out. And yes, I was a young kid. But *no way* is this a typical G movie. Watch it first and decide for yourself before considering showing it to your kids.
  • This movie has the distinction of being the first film I ever saw on the big screen. This may also have something to do with why I am, to this day, partial to David Lynch, Peter Greenway, and the more isoteric of Akira Kurasawa's stuff. Having viewed this film two or three times since that first viewing in 1977, I am sorry to say that I have not been able to grasp much more of the plot than I did at age three. This piece is extremely dark and somehow seems more suited to an offbeat university metaphysics class than the family section of the video store. The storyline follows the quest of a clockwork mouse and his child, who happen to be attached to each other at the hands, on the trail of their adopted mother (even Papa mouse calls her Mother), a clockwork Pink Elephant who has either left or been kidnapped from the toystore. Are you beginning to see what I mean? On the way they meet a morbid shaman-type frog in red long johns who reads bones, a "fallen woman" clockwork seal, a sadistic muskrat who has the ability to make the pair self-winding, and an entire dollhouse full of, to a three-year-old, really terrifying drunken rats.

    I'm not sure I would want to show this to my kids unless I really was trying to cultivate a pint-sized Lynch fan. It's an interesting piece though. The characters'drunkeness, morbidity, grief, neurosis, small hopes, opportunistic instincts, and self-hatred are pleasantly world's away from Disney. In some ways this, what turns out to be almost portrait of loss, seems to hit home a little harder if only because it's a cartoon and you're not expecting it.
  • The overarching theme of The Mouse & His Child is loss; loss of home, loss of family, loss of security. To begin with, the main characters are essentially helpless due to their being joined at the hands and requiring outside intervention to wind them, and this sets a tone of desperation that carries through much of the story. In the course of 83 minutes, the viewer will be confronted head on with (in rough order): abandonment, poverty, avarice, enslavement, loneliness, hopelessness, existentialism, and death. In Manny the Rat we have a villain who is exceptionally cruel, one of the more vile characters I've seen in a children's movie. More than anything it is a story about the oft-seeming hopeless search to find a place of belonging and love; this is what filled me with such aching sadness when I saw it as a child, and watching it today, it still does.

    I'll confess that I have a little bit of an obsession with this movie because, in the 40 years since I first saw it, I've come to believe that it may have had a real influence on my life. There are valid critiques to be made regarding quality of animation, script, pacing, etc., but those things don't matter to a 6 year old. That's how old I was when I first saw The Mouse & His Child in a movie theatre in the summer of 1977. No other movie of my childhood-not Bambi, not The Fox & The Hound, not E.T.-came close to reducing me to the sobbing mess that this film turned me into. I had never cried like that at a movie before and never have since. Fast forward 34 years, and in the fall of 2011 I finally had a chance to watch it again when a transfer from a well-used VHS tape showed up on a video sharing site. Imagine seeing a movie that you saw only once at such a young age, and that affected you so much, for the first time in 34 years! When I watched it again, I discovered two things: one, my memories of it were almost exact to the last detail, and two, even at middle age, a cartoon about windup toys searching for safety can still reduce me to tears.

    Anyone reviewing this movie should attempt to imagine how it might seem to a very young child who won't be apt to critique elements of the story that might seem "pretentious" to an adult. One of the scenes that stuck most vividly in my mind throughout my entire life was the "last visible dog" sequence: this was the first time I was confronted with the concept of "infinity" and the contemplation of "what lies beyond infinity;" pretty heavy stuff for a 6 year old, and this movie dishes out such heaviness with a trowel; subtle it is not. As with this scene, an adult might find the endless stream of trials the characters face in their quest for a home to be frustrating and tiresome, but a child is more likely to be imbued with a feeling of despair. And, for those who do find the movie tiresome, the story can be condensed quite neatly down to the opening and ending theme song, a tear jerker called "Tell Me My Name." In fact, just reading the lyrics of this song is almost enough to turn on the waterworks for me; subtle it's not, but affecting it most definitely is.

    The movie tries to make it up to you with a heartening message about forgiveness and an ending that is admittedly very happy, and yet, the final scene is the homeless man we met in the opening theme wishing the newly emancipated toys well while he walks on down the railroad tracks with his dog, leaving you with a sense that, yes, things are going to work out for the Windups, but what about that poor old man? Where is his family?

    It's hard to recommend this as a children's film, and yet there is something very brilliant about the uncompromising way it tries to present some of life's harshest lessons to its audience. This is the primary praise for the book it was based on, which I finally read only a couple of years ago, verifying that the movie is quite faithful to the book. I frequently see reviews written by others who, like me, saw it as a child who say things to effect of "this movie scarred me for life." Perhaps some mean that hyperbolically, but it definitely scarred me. Yet it was not a scar that never healed; rather, it was an experience that I believe might have made me a little more intelligent-and a little more empathetic to the world around me. If I had young children of my own I would think carefully before I let them watch this; for me, at the age of 6, I think it was probably too much to handle, but a child only slightly older, maybe 9 or 10, may have experienced just enough of the world that it won't quite overwhelm them, but may make them think... and it may leave them with a message about how important it is to be grateful and kind, rather than turning away from the less fortunate and contributing to the harshness of an often cruel world.
  • After 30 years of knowing about this non-Disney animated feature, I finally decided to watch The Mouse and His Child on YouTube. The animation is both haunting and beautiful in many places. The characters are appealing when they concern the "wind-ups" and some forest animals and suitably creepy when displaying most of the rats. The story seems simple but some characters go on tangents about life that threatens to become pretentious after a while though that happens only for a few minutes. Not much of humor happens here though it was amusing hearing Frank Nelson as a crow, Andy Devine (in his last role) as a frog, and Cloris Leachman as, I think, a bird. I was pleasantly surprised to see in the end credits that of Charles Schulz Creative Associates as one of the companies involved. Oh, and one of the wonderfully weirdest scenes involved seeing the Bosco can show the dog posed with a picture of him looking the same in position ad infinitum (to illustrate infinity). On that note, I guess that's a recommendation for The Mouse and His Child.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I remember this movie fondly from when I was a child. I found it the other day in a local rental place here and had to take it home and view it. I am surprised by just how well it holds up. They have to put this film out on DVD soon. From the beginning when the Mouse and his child start their nearly impossible search to become self winding the story will be tugging on your heart strings. I still think one of the best scenes is when you fall endlessly with poster. That scene alone is worth the movie. The ending is one of those you know is coming but still can't wait to see it happen. I loved this picture as a child and as an adult was still able to get so much out of it. Recommend seeing it even if you have to rent a VHS copy although the quality of the tape wasn't what I am use to on dvds now.
  • I'm a huge fan of animation, especially ones like this. I remember seeing this when I was around 5 years old and not really remembering the significance of it. Now I finally got to see it again and I'm happy that I did. The animation is a little weak by todays standards definitely, but the message is still there. There's a LOT of symbolism in this film, most of which little kids will not get. The other issue is some of the imagery is bizarre and downright disturbing, even to adults. Its an interesting film that can bring you to tears in a few scenes but at the same time make you smile and think. If you get the chance to see this by all means do. Its great, but I would watch it before I let my kids see it. Some of the scenes like I said are kind of harsh.
  • I read the Russell Hoban novel as a child, and to this day it has affected my development. I saw the film as a child because of the novel, but it didn't stay with me to nearly the same extent. (Another animated film, Ralph Bakshi's WIZARDS, most certainly did.)

    The main joy in the film is the character of Manny Rat, who is done perfectly, and that's a real compliment. Manny has become, for me, the classic redeemed villain. He's a wonderful character in the novel and in the film.

    I would recommend the novel to any precocious child who can read novels without pictures. Just as Robert C. O'Brien's MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH forms a bridge between children's fiction and adult emotions, Hoban's novel -- one of the most unique books ever written -- links children's tales and the surrealist, hallucinatory symbolism of the avant-garde. To this day, when I read fiction written with a certain level of surrealistic imagery, I think of Manny Rat.
  • This is a neat movie. Made by the company who would make the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, along with Sanrio, who is best known as the company who made Hello Kitty, this movie tells a story of a wind-up mouse and his son as they go on a journey to become self-winding. It is a sweet movie that has a good story, characters, and a moral to teach.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A father and a son. A pair of windup toy mice. Permanently joined at the hands, when you wind up a key in the father's back, he dances around and swings his son by the arms joyfully, as a real parent might. But life is not so joyous for the titular mouse and his child. After coming into existence in McMacken's Toys the two (especially the son) question their reason for being alive. The other toys tell them it is to do what they're "wound to do" to entertain the humans.

    The mouse child disagrees. He wants to stay in the toy store and be a family with the other toys. Specifically, he wants a windup pink elephant for his mother and a tin seal for his sister and live together in a dollhouse. This small hope is seemingly dashed when the pair fall off their shelf (despite a valiant attempt by a jack-in-the-box to grab them). The fall breaks the father's legs and so Mrs. McMacken throws them out. At the junkyard, a kindly homeless man repairs the father's legs.

    Now able to walk again, the toy mice can't really go anywhere. Even when unwound, they're alive and can talk and move to some extent, but they cannot walk unless kept wound up. So it is that the pair find themselves enslaved by a vicious gang of junkyard rats led by the urbane and snobbish Manny. Manny has dozens of imprisoned windup toys working for him and is quite the sadistic slave driver; whenever a toy can't work anymore Manny has it dismantled for parts. Manny keeps the toys wound up... in exchange for their devotion and servitude.

    Fortunately for our father and son duo, Manny sends them to assist his idiotic henchman, Ralphie, in stealing some "treacle brittle" (imported peanut brittle) from the Meadow Hoard & Trust bank. Ralphie gets himself eaten by the bank's security system, a hungry badger, leaving the unattended father and son to escape. If only they were wound up! Here the pair meet a friendly fortune-telling frog who used to work for Manny, and, the first true kind soul they've met since leaving the toy store, the frog offers to help them.

    Each wants something different, yet linked. The son is still on about wanting the elephant as his mother and the seal as his sister, and for them all to live happily ever after in the dollhouse, whilst the father wants him and his son to be "self-winding," i.e. not depend on others to keep them going anymore. The frog can solve both problems it seems. He knows of a tin seal in the vicinity, and if they find her they can conceivably also find the elephant, and as for the father's request, there is also a brilliant (if scatterbrained) muskrat inventor who might be able to make the mice "self-winding." The trio set off on their journey. But happily ever after is not something that is going to be easily obtained, because back at the junkyard, Manny has just learned of Ralphie's death and the mice's escape. Determined that a pair of stupid windup toys aren't going to make him look like a fool, Manny hops into his remote-control sports car and heads off after them...

    The Mouse and His Child is based on the novel of the same name by Russell Hoban and is one of the most emotionally fulfilling and touching animated films I've seen outside of Don Bluth's early work. The decidedly dark film has a distinctly Secret of NIMH feel to it in places, and also like some of Bluth's work, it has several scenes that are pretty disturbing. Standouts include the demonstration Manny gives on a windup donkey who says he can't work anymore, and what he does to the father and son when he finally catches up to them. I won't spoil anything except to say don't worry, everything turns out all right in the end. But I cried and cringed all the same. Your mileage may vary, though, depending on how you feel about abuse towards cute toy mice.

    The voice acting is superb. Alan Barzman as the father and Marcy Swenson as the son are so naive and cute that I'm convinced whoever doesn't instantly love them has a heart made of stone. Andy Devine as the frog radiates friendly paternal warmth, while Peter Ustinov as Manny positively oozes vile sadism in every line. At least, early on. As the movie goes on, main villain Manny actually gets some character development, and one other thing about the film that impressed me was the message it seems intent on sending kids about how to treat people who have hurt you in the past.

    But I'll spoil no more. This is another "Goddamn it it's not on DVD?!" movies, however it can be viewed on YouTube so if you wish to see it, I highly recommend it, as well as Russell Hoban's novel which can be found for reasonably prices on eBay all the time.
  • Sorry, I didn't go for this one.

    For starters, it was wa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-y too slow. The pace was so glacial it was hard to care what was happening.

    The rats were your basic gang of thugs. They were basically modeled after every 1930's gangster flick you could name. The party at the end looked like it was lifted from a Hollywood ball.

    The plot was either hackneyed or non-existent. Attempts at cuteness and emotions were so forced it was pathetic. And allowing the mouse and child 'toy' to suddenly function whenever a dramatic moment (hah) occurred just killed it.

    A kids movie NOT from Disney. The producers had a chance to make an impact. But they blew it.

    For insomniacs only.