Genius Products // 2008 // 76 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 22nd, 2008
The rematch of the century.
Whatever happened to the famed tortoise and the hare, the two mortal enemies that vied for marathon supremacy way back when? This "unstable fable" tells the story.
We all know the story. The tortoise and the hare competed in a winner-take-all race and the overconfident hare took a nap, allowing the tortoise and his "slow and steady wins the race" mentality to secure victory. Fast forward a bunch of years and Mr. Hare (Jay Leno) and Mr. Tortoise (Danny Glover) are neighbors, still nursing that competitive fire.
Tensions hit critical mass when a mega-wilderness race opens up the door for the tortoise and the hare to square off once more. But this time, they're bringing the kids, the brainy hare offspring and the free spirited girlie tortoise. As the competition wears on, the kids, unwilling to buy into their fathers' diseased hatred for each other, form a friendship and maybe -- just maybe -- the old rivals will learn a valuable lesson from their plucky, post-modern offspring.
Go ahead and scope this out if you're on the prowl for a fun little animated family movie. The creative talents behind Tortoise vs. Hare live up to the Jim Henson moniker attached to the disc and have crafted a genuinely funny, moral-laced fable.
There were more than a few moments that elicited laugh-out-loud moments from me -- Mrs. Hare's distaste for stay-at-home moms, the banter between the sportscasters, the Moles' "personal problems" monologue. There's some sharp writing behind the film, which is of course the make-or-break challenge for these animated adventures. And, yeah, the moralizing is obvious -- were there any doubts that the kids would emerge from the shadows of their overly competitive fathers and find common ground and encourage their own quirky personalities and dreams? -- but par for the course for a G-rated family film.
Great voice work too, with Glover and Leno the most obvious, but also the best. Leno is actually pretty perfect as the hyperactive Mr. Hare, prone to freakouts and Glover turns up the folksy stuff as the fuddy-duddy Mr. Tortoise. The supporting actors do well, but this is Leno and Glover's movie.
Finally, the animation, which is top-notch, looks as clean as a theatrical release. The character models are beautifully drawn, expressive and colorful, and supplement the impressive backdrops. Since the story takes place mainly in the wilderness, the environments are rich and varied and, well, earthy and the artwork is a pleasure to look at.
A decent little disc sports a very clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and a raucous Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Extras: a segment on the art design, a making-of featurette and a pile of previews.
A funny story with quirky characters and a nice message add up to a successful family movie night.
Not guilty. Hop to it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 76 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated G