'First impressions are a funny thing…' intones the voice of the unseen narrator in the children's DVD Lost and Found. In this case, my first impression of this animated version of the beautiful and gentle children's book by Oliver Jeffers was one of quiet satisfaction.
My children love the book, a tale of a small boy who finds a penguin at his door, and deciding that it is lost, seeks to help it find its way home again. The book is simply gorgeous and so is the movie. To look at anyway.
The problem came when the movie started diverting from the book. It's subtle, and if you haven't read the book, it may not bother you, but in my eyes (and my husband, who got quite vocal about it) the boy in the movie is just mean. And slightly bogan-like with his knitted beanie and skinny leg jeans. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Turning a short picture book into a 25 minute film is obviously quite difficult (although they managed it brilliantly with The Gruffalo). But instead of focussing on the beautiful pictures, they added new text, and in doing so, go from a little boy who is seeking to help a penguin find his way home, to a little boy who seems to be trying to get rid of a penguin. Subtle, perhaps. But why is the little boy not completely overjoyed at finding a penguin on his doorstep anyway? My daughters would wrap their arms around the penguin and demand to keep it.
There is so much to love about this film. The score is magical and some of the quotes are worthy of a hallmark card: A boat is a wondrous thing, it carries with it all the possibilities in the world'.
What was portrayed in the book as an earnestness to help this penguin home, in the movie becomes meanness. For example, as they row together to the South Pole in a little boat, the penguin catches two fish and eagerly hands one to the boy. The boy looks at it and then turns his back on the penguin. I thought it was a horrible thing to witness in a children's movie.
When they arrive at the South Pole, the boy and penguin shake hands (and flippers) and then the boy turns to leave, before pausing and offering his umbrella as a parting gift.
It's harder than you think to say farewell to someone who has become part of your life… but you do what you do and you just get on with it,' says the narrator.
The movie does take a turn for the better when the boy received some sort of personality transplant and realises that the penguin wasn't lost, it was just lonely… and then realises that he too, was lonely. The ending is also heartfelt and despite my earlier reservations, I found it hard not to smile.
I asked the family for their verdict. 'What did you think?' I asked my five year old. 'Good' was her rather inarticulate reply. I couldn't even get a response from the two year old, who had run off to play with her dolls. So I asked the only other adult in the house. 'They massacred the book,' he grumbled. 'They didn't use any of the words from the book. The animation was good but they just had a mean little boy and a poor little penguin.' I have to agree.
We give Lost and Found two knitted beanies.
Lost and Found DVD courtesy of Hopscotch Entertainment
I came across 'Lost and Found' on television one day. I too thought the boy was mean! But, as you have said, the ending was heartfelt. I haven't read the book yet, but I intend on finding it. Thanks for the review.