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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lotte from Gadgetville, an Estonian-Latvian animated feature from 2008, is now available in English on DVD and streaming. A multi-festival winner and long-popular European franchise (which included merchandise and TV episodes), Lotte and her family and friends live in Gadgetville, a charming village in which just about everyone is an inventor. Dogs, cats, pigs, flies, bees, and even some particularly sophisticated moles have adventures without the usual villains -- no scares or jeopardy. The mild conflict comes in easily digestible bites of misunderstandings, dealing with child-appropriate fears and family relationships. A bit of suspense comes because a beloved dad has been missing for a while; it's well-resolved. In this movie, there are lots of small plots -- from an invention competition to unexpected new friendships -- even a hot-air balloon journey to Japan for a judo tournament. There's lots of music and many funny situations, and characters have been designed to appeal to the littlest members of the family, but older kids and adults should find much to like here, too. It took nearly a decade for this entry to make its way to English-speaking audiences, but it's been well worth the wait.
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What's the story?
Little Lotte (a cartoon dog) lives happily with her family in an idyllic town in LOTTE FROM GADGETVILLE. Her dad, Oscar, is an inventor extraordinaire. Who wouldn't be extraordinary if he invented electricity, a washing machine, and a hot-air balloon? Lotte's best friend is Leo (a cat), who is shier than she is but willing to explore and try new things with Lotte as his guide. When Titume, a misplaced bee from Japan, unexpectedly appears in Gadgetville, courtesy of a runaway book that sailed the seas, Lotte and Leo are delighted, along with lots of the townspeople, to learn judo from him. At the same time, Oscar must hide his newest invention from a most determined bunny/inventor -- a fellow who isn't above cheating, which gets him into lots of trouble. Lotte and Leo train for an upcoming judo tournament. All of this happens as two very highbrow moles drink tea and ponder many of life's puzzles, and a spirited fly narrates all of the action.
Is it any good?
Inventive and original, witty and clever enough for adults to enjoy, sunny and funny for the kids, the film is a welcome English-language version of a European entry for family viewing. The story and characters transcend international borders with relatable humor and situations. The Estonian animation company that created Lotte from Gadgetville has been making films for decades. How lucky that someone decided to give American audiences an opportunity to see a film with plenty of story and no baddies or scary stuff. Highly recommended.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the universality of movies. Though Lotte from Gadgetville comes from Europe and was re-voiced in English, how common are the themes? What are the similarities to towns and families that you know?
Create an invention of your own. Write about or draw something you think would be great to have for yourself or for the world. It doesn't have to be possible, just fun.
What is it about portraying animals and critters as human that makes them so appealing? The word for that is "anthropomorphizing" the character. Think about your favorite anthropomorphized character. Who is it, and why is that character your favorite?
- In theaters: March 2, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: August 1, 2016
- Cast: Evelyn Pang
- Directors: Heiki Ernits, Janno Poldma
- Studio: Kidflix Global
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Music and Sing-Along
- Character Strengths: Curiosity, Teamwork
- Run time: 78 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.