"Fairy tales from Suburbia: Cheaply-made, but in a charming way"
Little kids are easy to entertain. Any video that's got some bouncy tunes and colorful characters is bound to hold their interest. Those who need proof of this theory need look no further than the depressing "Barney" phenomena of a few years back. Though it's clearly an inexpensive homemade affair, I'd rather play this video for my kids than anything containing that giant purple monster of merchandising.I generally don't review 30-minute kid's videos, but when an aspiring filmmaker drops me an email and asks for a review, I always say yes. I informed the director that I couldn't guarantee a glowing review, but I love to support the 'little guys' as often as possible...especially considering that I'm one of the 'little guys' myself.
When reviewing something meant for very small kids to watch, it's important to take that "grown-up world-weary cynical bastard" attitude and stick it in the closet for an hour. A quality children's production need deliver a few requisite components:
Catchy tunes that will have the tots bouncing in their seats? Check.
A cast of adorable kids acting out one of the most-beloved fairy tales? (Kids love to see other kids doing stuff!) Check.
One spooky (and ultimately misunderstood) creature, most assuredly of the villainous variety? Check.
In my book, most important: A few life lessons, messages, lessons, or whatever those things are that teach young rugrats the differences between right and wrong. (In my day, those were called the "moral of the story".) This is where The Four Little Pigs is at its strongest. Sure, grown-ups have seen all this stuff before, but this video isn't made for grown-ups! The story is based on The Three Little Pigs, with one addition: a fourth little piggie who asks a whole lotta questions!
Clearly a family affair, the pigs are all portrayed by a collection of charmingly 'real' kids. Are they actors? No. They're just authentic children having a good time with Dad's video camera and acting like well-behaved little pigs. (Sue me; I like kids.)
Filmed on home video (and most likely in someone's backyard), The Four Little Pigs is certainly a low-budget affair. But as with any form of filmed entertainment, it's important to judge a movie on what it is, and not what it cost. Some may see a homemade kiddie video and think 'chintzy'; I look and see an adorable little project obviously crafted with some real heart. (This is not the sort of film you make if you're interested in a quick buck.) It may not be an improvement over the original The Three Little Pigs, but it's a video I'd gladly buy for my kids...if I had any.
I'll take a high-end 'home movie' over the expensive banality of the damn Barney creature any day.Since I know that the director will be reading this review, I gotta ask: Who's that ADORABLE gal you got to play the Helpful Stranger??!!?? (No worries, dear reader; she's a grown-up.) Daddies who pop this video into the VCR and then skedaddle out of the room are gonna miss out on a REAL fairy tale fox! Bottom Line on The Four Little Pigs? Kids'll like it. 'Nuff Said. (3.5 stars out of 5)