Even Mice Belong In Heaven

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Even Mice Belong In Heaven
"There's an odd dynamic to this animation in that the visually stunning imagery seems to have come from an entirely more rich imagination than the rather perfunctory and, at times, borderline annoying storytelling which accompanies it."

This Czech animation - which will be released with an English language dub in the UK - is a sort of pre-teen Pilgrim's Progress, as it follows an odd couple mouse and fox as they navigate animal heaven after their unfortunate demise.

Whizzy the mouse is "the bravest mouse in the world," at least if you ask her, not to mention something of a braggart, which is why she finds herself clutching a piece of fur belonging to fox Whitebelly and running away from him on the fateful day in question. We're quickly clued in to why she is as she is in a story flashback to the childhood loss of her father, which has left her with a deep seated dislike of foxes - the perfect set up then for getting stuck with one, not just figuratively but physically when they go to the great beyond. The good-hearted Whitebelly, of course, has his own story too, which gradually unfolds as the pair decide to try to find Whizzy's dad.

Copy picture

There's an odd dynamic to this animation in that the visually stunning imagery seems to have come from an entirely more rich imagination than the rather perfunctory and, at times, borderline annoying storytelling which accompanies it. The stop-motion - mixed cleverly with CGI in places -  recalls the exquisite detailing of Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox and is tactile and full of the fiery warmth of autumn. There is also a constant sense of the magical in Whizzy and White Bellies adventures, as they find themselves in places including a purification plant - complete with mine cart ride - and a theme park overseen by a riddling cockatoo who can transform into a raven in the blink of an eye.

The script, unfortunately, just doesn't match up. Far from being the sort of feisty heroine that has become popular lately thanks to the likes of Zootropolis' Judy Hopps, Whizzy is just incredibly irritating for the first half hour, droning on about her lot. More humour would help or simply less talk and more walk and squawk. The script translation is also very American, with smaller children finding talk of the pair "washing up" likely to conjure a very different image than that which is intended. Meanwhile, the religious allegory keeps on coming as the duo find themselves attempting to negotiate "the forest of forests" along with their own, short lifetime of spiritual baggage.

The immersive quality of the animation from co-directors Jan Bubenicek and Denisa Grimmova offers a constant sense of delight and in terms of mood, they pitch their handful of scares very well at the young target audience. But the joy is muted by a script that could have used a lighter touch.

Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2021
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Even Mice Belong In Heaven packshot
A mouse and a fox meet in animal heaven and forge an unexpected friendship.

Director: Jan Bubenicek, Denisa Grimmová

Writer: Jeffrey Hylton, Richard Malatinský, Alice Nellis, based on the book by, Iva Procházková

Year: 2021

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: Czech Republic, France, Slovakia, Poland

Festivals:

EIFF 2021
Karlovy 2021

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