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  Even Mice Belong in Heaven By A Whisker
Year: 2021
Director: Jan Bubenicek, Denisa Grimmova
Stars: Ondrej Vetchy, Martha Issova, Miroslav Etzler, David Novotny, Jiri Labus, Miroslav Donutil, Barbora Hrzanova, Matous Ruml, Martin Dejdar
Genre: Animated, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Whizzy the mouse wanted to be as brave as her father, the one mouse who stood up to the foxes like their fearsome leader, a fanged monster who devoured many of her friends and neighbours. But eventually, this fox had eaten her father as well, and despite her championing of him, life for Whizzy was somewhat lonesome when she was constantly trying to prove herself in the eyes of her peers who really were not bothered one way or the other. One day, with that in mind, she decided to steal a handful of fur from a different fox, Whitebelly, who was sleeping nearby, and though she got the fur, she was also chased around the vicinity by the angry vulpine. The good news was that she managed to evade him. The bad news?

This was because they were both run over by a car in the road they had strayed onto, not the cheeriest of ways to kick off a children's movie, but one method of living up to its title by depicting Whizzy in the afterlife for animals. Humanity is never seen (though presumably an example was driving that car) so either we get our own heaven or we get none at all, and are not as elevated in the spiritual as, for example, a mole or a beetle. There's one caveat in animal heaven: don't eat anybody as you did while down on Earth, that’s a big no-no, since everyone there is dead already and there's no need to continue that part of the circle of life. Whizzy thinks she's fine as far as that goes, until Whitebelly reminds her that she would munch down those beetles like snacks.

Oh, the mouse and the fox become friends here, though tentatively at first as while Whitebelly is very contrite about his past life as a carnivore (we see he preferred to eat pinecones, anyway), Whizzy is of the opinion you don't change overnight and it is only a kind of springed handcuffs contraption that keeps them together when they somehow become joined around the waist. Indeed, the supposed predator is a big wuss, as it turns out (signified by stuttering speech) and a lot more reticent about adventuring on a quest that is part and parcel of any kids animation, though he does encourage Whizzy to carry on with her attempts to track down her father, who, being dead, must be around this heaven place somewhere, right? There's no Hell for him to have gone to, at least, as that doesn't appear to be a concept in the afterlives of the fauna.

This was a Czech production which had international distribution thanks to dubbing; the English language dub was American, and a little overbearing and America-centric. Whizzy's dubbed incarnation had a habit of calling Whitebelly "Fangy-Face" which sounded like something a lot more rude to British ears, for instance. But it was the genuine charm of the puppets and sets that were so meticulously crafted that made this watchable as it was clearly not a Hollywood production, and you could tell that even with the American twang in the accents. There might have been slicker constructions in the animated world, but these puppets had plenty of character and eccentricities that you would not get outside of Eastern Europe, from the fine details of the fanciful plot to one mouse shitting himself with fear lent the experience a lot more distinctive personality than some cheapo computer-generated retelling of a fairytale for the umpteenth cash-in on the supposed complacency of the younger audience. If it was wild and woolly, and that was just the animals, then its upbeat morbidity was notable.

[Signature Entertainment presents Even Mice Belong in Heaven at Cinemas Nationwide 1st October 2021.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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