Judge David Johnson was surprised, and a bit saddened, to discover that this wasn't the pilot for a new Joss Whedon kids' show.
Apparently the real miracle of Easter is introducing a juvenile delinquent to a stray dog.
The Littlest Angel shows up just in time for Easter. Well, actually, I guess not. Hey, there's always next Easter!
Facts of the Case
Here's the scoop on the Littlest Angel: He's the newest kid on the celestial block, and is constantly berated by the bigger, more wizened angels (so Heaven is like my junior high school?). No one believes the Littlest Angel has the chutzpah to solve problems on Earth. That is, expect for Gatekeeper Angel. He decides to give the Littlest Angel a chance to do some real good and gives him an assignment: A small boy named Ryan has just moved to a new town and is having a difficult time making friends, which might have something to do with the fact he refers to his peers as "losers."
Before departing for the physical realm, the Littlest Angel has a powwow with Understanding Angel (voiced by Naomi Judd), who instills in him the necessary angel confidence. So off he goes, the heavenly runt, to help Ryan, the earthly runt. Now, because Ryan is unable to see him, the Littlest Angel decides to work his mojo through a vagrant dog. He brings the canine to Ryan and the two strike up a friendship, much to the chagrin of Ryan's mom, a big-chested blonde with a super-hip Pat Benatar hairdo.
But as the Littlest Angel tries his hardest to mainstream Ryan into healthy peer relationships, he finds it difficult to keep out of mischief himself. Oh, Littlest Angel!
I don't quite grasp the theology being espoused in The Littlest Angel's Easter. This cartoon, which runs a shade north of twenty minutes, revolves around this tiny child angel. It's hinted that he's in Heaven because he died a while back (he says he hasn't been to Earth in thousands of years). But angels are created by God. Dead people don't become angels, at least according to Christian orthodoxy.
Bear with me; I know I sound like I'm blathering, but I've got a point. At first blush, The Littlest Angel's Easter appears to be geared toward Christians. However, there are no explicit mentions of God or Jesus or anything remotely Easter-ish. There's a lot of that wishy-washy "faith and hope are great" proselytizing, and a scene set in a church, but it's all very PC; it could be any church, any pastor—heck, any heaven. Seriously, you would think angels would be more interested in glorifying the risen Savior than screwing around with an Easter egg hunt. I'm not saying this noncommittal stance by the filmmakers is a bad thing, but folks looking for a religion-rich piece of animation may be disappointed.
Explicitly religious or not, The Littlest Angel's Easter is a saccharine, harmless cartoon packed with all kinds of morals. This isn't deeply challenging stuff; the message it's trying to impart is basically "Hey, stupid, make some ethnically diverse friends!" The whole affair is too syrupy and nonsensical for my taste (the climactic scene involves a young girl hitting a baseball during a game, the Littlest Angel grabbing the ball from mid-air while half the town inexplicably follows, and bringing it over to Ryan so he can catch the ball and look awesome in front of some potential friends). But the themes are morally sound, and hey, it's got Naomi Judd.
No shocker here, but this Lions Gate presentation is absolutely barebones. Full frame. Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround. Not even a menu. And a few previews that roll before the feature. The picture quality is okay, and the colors are bright enough, but beyond that this is a minimalist experience.
The Littlest Angel's Easter is on the fence regarding what it wants to be—is it a Christian cartoon or not? While it stops just short of any kind of specific articulation of faith, all the normal lessons of inclusion, friendliness, and humility are accounted for.
Fine, go flitter around some more, Littlest Angel. Just stay away from the bug zappers.
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