The very epitome of a gentle comedy drama, this charming tale of senior romance ticks along at a leisurely pace, somewhat befitting of its heavily tortoise-based cast. A made-for-TV adaptation of the popular 1990 kids' book, Roald Dahl's Esio Trot has a quiet intensity, combining humor and silliness with poignancy and, occasionally, melancholy. Unrequited love, loneliness, and old age are all laid bare but -- fortunately -- so are joy, wonder, kindness, and lots of tortoises.
You know you're in safe hands with a story penned by Dahl, a script co-written by Richard Curtis, and two Oscar-winning actors on the payroll. They don't disappoint. Hoffman is perfectly understated as the shy, big-hearted Mr. Hoppy, while Dench sparkles as the colorful Mrs. Silver. There is an easy chemistry between them that has you rooting for them right from the off. James Corden too has just the right warmth and empathy to narrate a tortoise-y love story, pulling off his multi-location jaunt across London with a natural flair. There's nothing flashy or sensational about this movie. No special effects or dramatic set pieces. Fundamentally, it is a simple love story. But you can't help being utterly charmed by the characters, enchanted by the story, and thoroughly amused by the antics of an apartment full of tortoises. It's a safe bet that, by the end, you won't be able to stop smiling.