VALIANT (Gary Chapman). 76 minutes. Opens Friday (August 19). For venues and times, see Movies, page 86. Rating: NN Rating: NN
As animated films get higher profiles (and bigger box office grosses), they've started enlisting the vocal "talents" of big-name stars - whether or not said stars have good voices.
Fortunately, Valiant, the story of second world war carrier pigeons, features Ewan McGregor , Tim Curry , John Cleese , Ricky Gervais and Hugh Laurie , just to name a few, all of whom, besides having distinctive voices, can do accents better than, say, Mike Myers.
Speaking of Shrek, despite the involvement of that movie's producers, its smart humour is almost totally missing from this movie. Valiant is a wee feller who yearns to be part of the Royal Homing Pigeon Service. His first mission is to deliver the order to attack at Normandy. The Germans are hilariously represented by cape-wearing falcons. In the film's funniest moment, they torture a prisoner with yodelling.
It all feels like an episode of Black Adder, with slightly less bathroom humour and a lot less wit. Yes, it's a kids' film, and, yes, a happy ending is predictable, but there are ways to get there and still surprise the audience.