Rabbit Academy: Mission Eggpossible. PG, 76 minutes, 2 stars
Once upon a time, Disney almost had the animated feature market to itself, certainly in terms of prestige and success: there were others, but the Mouse House ruled. Nowadays it seems that, as Jimmy Durante said, everybody wants to get into the act.
There have been so many animated features in recent years that I don't even recall hearing or reading of this German film's predecessor, Rabbit Academy: Guardians of the Golden Egg (2017). Not that it matters: this film, with its groan-inducing punny subtitle, can stand on its own two anthropomorphised leporine feet.
Before we get into how well it does that, let's review the story, which is both involved and sketchy.
Cocky young Max (voiced by Noah Levi) is the first "city rabbit" to be chosen as a potential Master Rabbit, one of the chosen who decorate and distribute Easter eggs. Not the chocolate variety, mind: these come straight from the hens and are collected via a complicated Heath Robinson/Rube Goldberg device.
But while Max has much to learn, there's danger-a-comin'. A family of foxes is keen not only on feasting on some fine rabbit, but on taking over the Easter egg business for themselves.
Leo (Sebastian Fitzner), a motorbike-riding rabbit who was kicked out of the academy, talks his way out of becoming their dinner by promising the foxes he'll help them fulfil their desires. But he has his own, more destructive agenda.
It's not a terrible movie but it's a bland and disappointing one.
Meanwhile, one of the young foxes, the brainy Ferdinand (Tim Kreuer), isn't on board with his family's plan.
The script feels like a rough draft: there are some decent ideas here but they're rather haphazardly and heavy-handedly thrown together. Lessons about overcoming selfishness and working together are juxtaposed with the idea of each Master Rabbit finding his or her own Special Power.
The film is in (American accented) English with a not very distinctive voice cast. The uninspired dialogue doesn't help.
Where the film does score is in its look. The animation is fluid and the colours range from bright to shadowy as needed.
It's not a terrible movie but it's a bland and disappointing one. With some more work it could have been better. There's a song which is completely unmemorable - definitely no competition for Disney.
Rabbit Academy: Mission Eggpossible seems aimed squarely at young kids rather than older ones and adults.
The young boy who was watching with his mother at Dendy (the only other patrons in my session) was quiet, so presumably he was absorbed.
Like many Christmas films, this is an Easter film in which no mention is made of the historical figure - or legend, take your pick - behind the holiday.
But whether or not you're theologically inclined, you should not be expecting anything profound from a movie named Rabbit Academy: Mission Eggpossible.
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