A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that younger kids might be scared by the movies' weasel characters and the scenes in which a character is sent to prison. Kids accustomed to fast-moving, digitally enhanced animated movies may find these stories slow in the beginning.
What's the story?
This set of DVDs features two animated stories based on the book , by Kenneth Grahame. Set in Edwardian England, the first feature, The Wind in the Willows, follows the adventures of four animal friends: mild-mannered Mole (voiced by Richard Pearson), sensible Rat (Ian Carmichael), gruffly wise Badger (Michael Hordern), and the lively but irresponsible Toad (David Jason). The film begins at a slow pace, but the action kicks in when the wealthy Toad develops an unhealthy yet hilarious fascination with driving motorcars. His friends stage an intervention for their irrepressible amphibian buddy and are drawn into various adventures, from the lavish Toad Hall to the spooky Wild Wood. In A Tale of Two Toads, Toad is kidnapped by a suavely villainous look-alike, who assumes Toad's identity, and turns Toad into his servant. When the villain is discovered, Rat, Mole, and Badger rally to rescue their friend.
Is it any good?
Both stories here feature stop-motion animation that seems utterly enchanting and three-dimensional in this increasingly computerized age. Both movies also include songs and alternate between heartwarming scenes and downright zaniness. The four main characters have memorable, distinct personalities; parents will appreciate their articulate, refined way of speaking and, most importantly, their loyalty to one another through thick and thin.
A Tale of Two Toads turns comic as the two sides try to outwit each other, and kids should find giggles in the scene in which the other characters can't tell Toad and his doppelganger apart. Special features include an interview with animator Brian Cosgrove, a bonus episode from the TV series, and "Toad's Road Trivia Game."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different personalities of Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad. What is each animal like? How do they complement one another? What are their positive and negative traits? What does the movie teach about friendship? Parents might need to explain some of the British expressions and mannerisms, such as "bubble and squeak."
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