The Wind in the Willows
Adapted from the novel by Kenneth Grahame
Director: Rachel Talalay
My Rating: 4 Stars
MPAA Rating: Unrated (safe for kids)
Cast: Matt Lucas, Mark Gatiss, Lee Ingleby, Bob Hoskins, Imelda Staunton, Anna Maxwell Martin
Matt Lucas, Bob Hoskins, Mark Gatiss and Lee Ingleby star in this live-action BBC miniseries adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s beloved novel The Wind in the Willows. The program weaves the familiar tale of Mole, Rat, Badger and the inimitable Mr. Toad, who remain fast friends as they experience exciting adventures involving stolen motorcars, imprisonment, houseboating. gypsies and freewheeling nighttime expeditions.
This is one of those movies that I love to watch on a rainy day, or maybe if I’m not feeling so well and spending the day on the couch. It is the epitome of charming and pleasant.
The Wind in the Willows (adapted from the novel by Kenneth Grahame) follows the quiet lives of Mole and Ratty, who live pleasant lives of picnicking, boating, and relaxing in meadows. That is, until Toad barges in with his crazy schemes and his desire to find his next thrill, be that boating or driving. When Toad gets out of control, Mole and Rat seek Badger’s help; but Badger lives in the Wild Wood, a dangerous place for Mole and Rat. More shenanigans ensue, and Toad ends up in jail, though he quickly breaks out, finding his way home (mostly through dumb luck). Unfortunately, the unfriendly forest creatures have set up residence at Toad Hall, and our heroes must fight to win it back.
This version is very theatrical, in the sense that the costumes are very humanlike, and they and the makeup are only meant to suggest animal features. The actors take care of some animal type gestures, again, suggesting, but when it’s left to it, the director (brilliant, thank you), lets us see them as people, rather than trying to make it awkward community theater The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. You know the one, where you’ve got ridiculous mascots running around instead of just being artistic and leaving it up to the audience to fill in the blanks.
For example: Here’s a picture of Ratty, Toad, and Mole from this version of the movie:
Nothing is in your face about the fact that they are animals, though there are characteristics of their costume and make-up that tells us they are. They are just charming British chaps who enjoy the outdoors and happen to have animal like tendencies.
Or you can go this way (which you never ever should):
ANWAY. The acting is top notch in this movie, and it is sort of a “Who’s Who of British TV” with Mark Gatiss, Lee Ingleby, Matt Lucas, Imelda Staunton, and Anna Maxwell Martin in the cast. The script is clever and is made seemingly more clever by the brilliant comedic timing of the main three characters who deliver excellent performances the whole way through.
With fairly simple conflict, The Wind in the Willows won’t be the mind bending thriller you might be looking for, but if you are yearning for a pleasant afternoon accompanied by a nice cup of tea, it’s the perfect movie for you.
P.S. You can watch the whole thing on Youtube. I mean, you SHOULD buy it/rent it/get from the library, but if you MUST, it’s there.
P.P.S. I mean no offense to Community Theaters who use mascot costumes. I’ve been animals in shows before, and most of my costumes were the less artistic version.