Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Adventure,Uncategorized Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare

Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare

Most of you have heard of the Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare that dates back to ancient Greece, but do you know what happened after the infamous race?

After years of defeat, Murray Hare is determined to set things straight with his arch-nemesis Walter Tortoise by having a father/child race to the finish. Hare’s thoughts are that winning the race requires speed and agility, whereas Tortoise believes that slow and steady wins the race. Sound familiar? Well, as I mentioned before, the story dates back to ancient Greece and has been told for many centuries, so it should. However, this time it’s set years after the Tortoise beat the Hare.

Jay Leno lends his high-strung voice to the role of Murray, a jittery and over-eccentric hare obsessed with speed who believes that the most important rule to winning a race is no naps. His arch-nemesis is a calm and collected tortoise by the name of Walter, leisurely voiced by Danny Glover. Stuck in the middle of their two competitive fathers are Butch Hare, voiced by a geeky Drake Bell, and Crystal Tortoise, voiced by an upbeat Keke Palmer.

The voice cast fits well, but the moral of the story becomes muddled in the 79 minute running time thanks to the number of unnecessary characters and some overly dramatized moments of peril. Sure, these moments fill in much-needed running time and add suspense to the tale, but more importantly it takes the big heart out of a simple story and makes it smaller.

With detailed animation and a fair amount of entertainment value at hand, Tortoise vs. Hare doesn’t take the fun out of the classic story as much as it swamps its important point. On the plus side, it does have its amusing moments and it’s never really a strain to enjoy hearing these talented voices. Also, the animation is done surprisingly well given the fact that it was intended to go direct to video without a theatrical release. So while the film is by no means a bad one, it took what was once a 10-minute short and made it into a frantic and over-extended 79 minute story that’s complex and ironically unstable (as described in the title).

With the help of a couple of much needed chuckles and the occasional spurts of cleverness, the film does manage to be moderately entertaining. However, the extensive running time hurts the film immensely considering that it’s largely formulaic and conveys morals covered in many other animated films. And who’s to say that those films aren’t better than this one? I would suggest renting the original 1935 animated short (if you can find it) rather than sitting through 79 minutes of congested morals that you end up having to explain to your young ones.

Writer Tom Martin (known for writing TV shows such as The Simpsons and SNL) does provide a few inside jokes for the grown-ups (the tortoise wears a turtleneck) and a couple of good chuckles for the kids. This is precisely what makes Tortoise vs. Hare mild entertainment and nothing more.

The DVD’s special features include a remarkably detailed description from director Howard E. Baker on how to draw a character, a short but well deserved look at “The Making of Tortoise Vs. Hare,” a sneak peek at the next Unstable Fable, and a trailer for Tortoise vs. Hare. 2.5/5 stars

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