Genius Products // 2008 // 79 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // September 3rd, 2008
A little elephant on a big adventure!
Once upon a time in Siam, a little blue elephant was born. It was not a peaceful time in Siam. They were under attack from Burma, and many of the elephants were nervous. The little blue elephant's mother had a feeling that her son was destined for great things, so she named him Khan-Kluay, meaning "great heart." As Khan grows, he proves to be a very kind and gentle elephant. One day, he sees a poor frog being tortured by a bunch of elephant bullies. Determined to rescue the frog, Khan intervenes, fending off all of his rough peers. He thinks of himself as a hero, but his mother isn't pleased. "Fighting is always wrong," she says. This is just one of many important lessons that Khan's mother has given taught her son. She has given him a lot, but when she goes missing, it's up to Khan to find her. Along the way, he gets assistance from a friendly girl elephant (she's pink, of course) and a loopy bird. Can Khan find his mother and learn the meaning of courage?
The Blue Elephant is an irrepressibly cutesy and cuddly story that is bound to appeal to those who those who think that the characters on Sesame Street just aren't quite lovable enough. Here we have a whole host of sensitive, caring characters who spend a large amount of their time hugging each other and saying kind things. Khan's mother informs the film's tone. "Elephants never forget," she says. "Elephants never forget their loved ones. I love you, Khan. I love you so much." Her little boy looks back at her. "Oh mom," he sighs happily, "I love you so much, too." Then they tickle each other.
If you can't take that sort of thing, be warned, The Blue Elephant has an awful lot of it. Even so, this is a good-natured (if completely insubstantial) that very young viewers may very enjoy. The film is rated PG for "thematic elements and battle action," but honestly, this sort of thing often makes Spongebob Squarepants seem racy and controversial. Note that I said "often." I'm curious about why they made some of the plot decisions they did. In a movie that is mostly the visual equivalent of a soft pillow, why do we have the depiction of a violent conflict between Siam and Burma? I'm all in favor of using kid's entertainment for educational purposes, but this film seems a little too lightweight to carry anything heavier than the names of a few countries.
Despite the curiously unsuccessful inclusion of a semi-political subplot here, the movie mostly focuses on more standard-issue plot developments and lessons. Being courageous is important. Being loyal to your friends is important. Human beings are evil, and animals are pure beings that would never harm anyone. However, some human beings are actually good. You shouldn't judge anyone before you get to know them. It's more or less exactly what you would expect. Well, except for the lesson about fighting. For a long while, the film seems to be trying to hammer the message across that all fighting and violence is bad. Then, during the final act, Khan become a hero by...um...beating the crap out of an evil elephant. Yeah. The voice work by the likes of Martin Short, Carl Reiner, and Miranda Cosgrove is decent, but unremarkable.
The transfer is fine, spotlighting plenty of bright colors without ever
becoming a visual headache. The CGI animation is predictably poor, looking like
scenes from a cheap kid's videogame. The 5.1 sound is good, with a solid balance
between all of the audio elements. There are no special features included on the
disc. It's a close call, but this one is guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 79 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Muppet News Flash: The Blue Elephant