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New Movie Review

"Velveteen Rabbit" DVD

Photo credit: www.lovefilm.com

"Velveteen Rabbit" DVD cover

by Steve Anderson
thevideostoreguy@columnist.com

I've seen versions of this before, even read the book once or twice. And I'm surprised by how much punch this still actually has.

Basically, it's a lonely boy, left with his grandmother by his workaholic father. Everyone around this poor kid is some kind of sociopath--his grandmother's first words when she meets the grandkid are how it will interfere with the social season. His father dumped him off because he's working through Christmas. And when he actually TELLS the poor kid he's working through Christmas? HE ORDERS THE KID TO NOT CRY.

If there were any justice this would have been a slasher flick and BOTH of them would've had their small intestines pulled out holes in their throats and they would've been strung up at the train station. By said small intestines. I would call them both jerks but this is not NEARLY strong enough. To tell the truth about these two requires copious profanity.

Thankfully, predictably, they will change by the end of the movie through the power of the pure love and faith of this poor little kid, who would've grown up to do things like those I just described had it not been for his timely finding of a velveteen rabbit in his grandmother's attic. And, of course, the simple power of a child's imagination.

Yes, it's schmaltzy. It's spectacularly puerile. It's predictable, and frankly, it's poorly built. This is easily one of the SHODDIEST movies I've ever seen but the sad part is that it will WORK. And work spectacularly well. I almost cried. Me, a hardened veteran of the horror film circuit getting all weepy-eyed over a movie about a stuffed rabbit. I'm almost ashamed to admit it.

What Michael Landon Jr. and company have built here is a movie that SHOULD be mocked, openly, by anyone even resembling a film enthusiast but their mockery will die in their throats, only to be replaced by a lump as they too remember the stuffed animals of their childhoods that accompanied them on so many adventures. Calvin and Hobbes can reduce even the mighty 4chan to teary mutterings, and The Velveteen Rabbit brought me down.

I did manage to have some fun watching this--watching the stodgy old grandmother more concerned about her bridge club than her grandson shop for a Christmas tree was a sheer hoot. And if there was a better voice actor for the horse than Tom Skerritt, I can't imagine him.

The ending is still more schmaltz as a toy legend comes to ominous life, despite all logic and good common sense.

All in all, despite how much I should be railing against this movie, I find myself unable to. It presses all the right buttons, and worse yet, it lets you KNOW it's pressing buttons. It tells you in advance it's going to press buttons. It is easily one of the most manipulative movies I've ever seen, but its success is absolutely undeniable. For those who love sad movies, or those who are dating those who love sad movies, then there can be no doubt. Get this movie.

RELATED STORY: Michael Landon Jr. directs 'The Velveteen Rabbit'; considers filming in Michigan

 

Velveteen Rabbit
***
DVD
Directed by Michael Landon Jr.
Written by Cindy Kelley, Michael Landon Jr.
Starring Jane Seymour, Tom Skerritt, Ellen Burstyn, Matthew Harbour
Produced by Forrest S. Baker III, Serge Denis, Michael Landon Jr., Peter Moss
G
2009
90 mins

 

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