I have mentioned nostalgia clouding bad kid movies and trying to be above it, that being said it has caught up with me in a little way. A part of me knows that Don Bluth’s Thumbelina is not a good movie, it has a lot issues, but, but, but I really like this movie. I have good happy memories this movie. Even though it has some flaws, I still like it.
Thumbelina was released in 1994 by Don Bluth. It was clearly him copying that sweet, sweet Disney formula. In fact they played the Disney logo at the beginning at test screenings to help get positive ratings. This movie is really a Disney knock-off.
Thumbelina with Cornelius
The movie starts with off in Paris with Jacquimo, a swallow. He gives us theme about over coming impossibility because Disney has the monopoly on the being yourself theme. He tells the story of Thumbelina from book even though he was in the story. I’m confused but whatever.
Story goes, this lady wants a baby so she gets an enchanted flower and out pops full grown Thumbelina. Thumbelina isn’t fan of being small and lonely. She hopes her love will come by and low and behold he does, one Fairy Prince Cornelius. After 7 minutes and 39 seconds of screen time which includes a Whole New World knock-off, they are in love and on their way to engagement or they are, I can’t really tell. I guess it like engaged to be engaged.
However, Thumbelina is kidnapped in the night by Charo-Toad. Charo-Toad, like everyone else in this movie, is smitten with Thumbelina’s voice. She wants to add Thumbelina to her act and she wants her to marry her son Grundel. They ditch Thumbelina on a lily pad to get the Padre or something.
As Thumbelina is stuck on the lily pad, Jacquimo FLIES by. Thumbelina tells her tale of love and woe and Jacquimo congratulations her for being in love. Jacquimo helps her off the lily pad by cutting it lose and getting some fishes to pull her to shore. Jacquimo tells her to follow her heart to find her way home and while she does that Jacquimo will FLY around looking for Cornelius.
Thumbelina then gets caught by Mr Beetle, played by Gilbert Gottfried who wants her to sing at the Beetle Ball. However, her Beetle costume was poorly made and falls off revealing her as not a bug and the beetles call her ugly. As she laments, Jacquimo FLIES by and comforts her. He comforts her by saying as long as the guy you like thinks your pretty it doesn’t matter. I think it’s just bad writing there.
Then winter comes, and Jacquimo and Cornelius, who have been looking for Thumbelina are knocked out of commission. Also on the hunt for Thumbelina are Grundel who has Mr Beetle working for him.
As the cold weather sets in, Thumbelina is saved from death by Ms. Fieldmouse. Ms. Fieldmouse informs Thumbelina that Cornelius is dead. Thumbelina gets to mourn him for a solid 15 seconds because they have visit Mr. Mole. Mr. Mole also likes Thumbelina’s voice and tells them that he found a dead bird which turns out to be Jacquimo but he isn’t dead. Mr. Mole then pays off Ms. Fieldmouse to persuade Thumbelina to marry him.
Thumbelina, heart-broken over Cornelius’ death and thinking she will never get home decides to marry the mole. She tells Jacquimo this and after she pulls a thorn from his wing he tells her to go with him to the prince. She does not as she think Cornelius is dead.
Thumbelina is about to marry the mole but can’t because she doesn’t love him and escapes. As she does, Grundel shows up and so does Cornelius who wasn’t dead just a little frozen. Jacquimo shows up again and takes Thumbelina to what he claims is the Vale of the Fairies. Thumbelina is pessimistic and asks him to take her home but he insists on her singing. As she sings spring comes and Cornelius shows up. Yay. They kiss and Thumbelina gets wings and they get married. Hooray!
Thumbelina with Jacquimo
The number one problem is that Jacquimo at any point could have flown Thumbelina home. We wouldn’t have had a movie but it’s a glaring issue. I’m not sure why he didn’t think to offer this or why Thumbelina didn’t ask. He instead offers to find Cornelius but he could have done that after he brought her home. It’s just one those plot hole that just leaves you confused and asking why.
Another issue is with Thumbelina herself. Thumbelina doesn’t learn anything and she doesn’t earn her happy ending, it’s pretty much handed to her. All she has to do is say no to money but she was never about money and was wholly about love so there no growth for her character.
As far as her personality go, she is impressionable. Considering we don’t know how much time passes between her “birth” and the events of this movie, she could be a like two days old. So her being sheltered is understandable. She is also very pessimistic, she says “It’s Impossible” a lot.
In a way it’s refreshing to see a princess-like character being a negative-nancy, on the other hand without character growth it’s a little annoying. The thing is she’s right, it was impossible since we don’t see her make it home. She does go back at end when she is getting married but she is probably going to live with fairies, so she never really makes it back home. It wouldn’t have been impossible if stupid bird-jerk gave her a ride.
Speaking of Thumbelina, what is she? Cornelius kind of implies that fairies can get their wings later, so she is a fairy? But how did that seed work? Is she at all genetically related to her mother? Do fairies come from seeds? When two fairies love each other very much, do they plant a flower and out comes a baby? Or a grown-up non-winged fairy? I’m confused.
Thumbelina with Mr Beetle
So as for the rest of the characters. They’re ok, Jacquimo is a well meaning co-dependent who is a little more than dumb, Cornelius is a rule-breaking flirt, the jitterbugs are cute, and the mom is bland but nice.
They other characters are ambitious and money grubbing. I think Grundel is a bit like Frollo, he obsessed with Thumbelina but does know her. I admit I do like Mr. Beetle, I find him amusing even if he is just Gilbert Gottfried doing Iago.
Thumbelina with Cornelius
Speaking of voice actors and Disney, Thumbelina is a pure unfiltered rip off of The Little Mermaid. Both are originally by Hans Christian Anderson, both use the same voice actress, Jodi Benson, both have red hair, both have beautiful and desirable voices. Hell both movies use Kenneth Mars voice of King Triton and the Fairy King. It even fade out to stain-glass. This movie feel very Disney-light.
Thumbelina with Mrs. Toad
So since a hallmark of Disney films is the animation and the songs how does those compare. The animation is really good. I really like how stagey the visuals are to the songs. Some of the characters design are overtly silly, dogs and goats with mustaches and Charo-toad. But on the whole it’s a pretty movie to look at.
The songs were composed by Barry Manilow. I know people don’t like most of the songs, heck one won a Razzie but I don’t hate them. I prefer some over others. I like the Aladdin knock-off, Let me be your wings and the vague I want song, Soon.
The other songs are meh but enjoyable. That’s right, I enjoyed Marry the Mole, how often do you get a gold-digging song in a kid’s movie? It’s just enjoyably stupid.
Thumbelina with the Jitterbugs
Thumbelina is supposed to be about over coming impossibilities but it seems more like don’t do things for money but in copying Disney that is what Bluth did, he married the mole so to speak. I won’t deny this duality does lead to a kinda messy theme which in turn leads to a messy narrative but I do like this movie. Maybe it’s nostalgia for it but the I find Thumbelina enjoyable, with good pacing, lovely visuals, and some nice songs.