Tales of the Riverbank
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tales of the Riverbank is a clever, family-friendly British tale of animal adventure and rescue with a soft spot for the underdog, but it resolves its essential conflict through violence, albeit slapstick, cartoonish violence that never feels scary or emotionally intense. The film mimics the blockbuster action of buddy war flicks such as Apocalypse Now -- but its grown-up reference points are likely to fly right over the heads of young children.
What's the story?
In a tale told by an owl (voiced by Stephen Fry), we learn that endless rain has flooded a riverbank, sending three (animatronic) furry friends -- Hammy the Hamster, Roderick the Rat (Steve Coogan), and GP (Jim Broadbent) -- and a growing posse of animal friends in search of their displaced homes. Along the way, the adventure becomes the rescue of a kidnapped mouse named Sonia, a test of friendship and wills, and a battle against the evil Fat Cats, who are polluting the environment with their corporation WMDC -- the Waffles Marmalade Doughnut Corporation.
Is it any good?
Based on the longrunning Canadian children's television series which then migrated to the BBC, this is a scrappy British film adaptation that manages to mix high and low comedy that should appeal to multiple generations. The animatronic puppets are silly looking enough to qualify as camp, and the sustained peril they face and witty jokes are absurdly funny.
Kids will love watching furry creatures navigate an astonishing number of modes of transportation and natural disasters, even if the allusions are over their head, while parents will enjoy a flick for kids smart enough to incorporate sly nods to pop culture references only they can get -- a mouse doing her best Lauren Bacall, and the co-opted Apocalypse Now reference, "I love the smell of fresh marmalade in the morning." An excellent vocal cast doesn't hurt either.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the environment. The characters in Tales of the Riverbank care a lot about their home environment. What can you do to help keep the rivers and lakes in your city clean?
The animals visit the circus in the film. Do you think animals are treated fairly in the circus? What might be a good way to help the animals who are not treated well?
With a parent, visit the web to discuss efforts by people or groups to reduce pollution in your neighborhood, town, or city.