Director: wendy rogers | Script: Martin Hynes | Cast: Noah Jupe (Peter), Mandy Vatinkin (Vilnius Lutz), Brian Tyree Henry (Leo Matienne), Natasia Demetriou (Fortune Teller), Benedict Wong (Wizard), Pixie Davies (Adele) and others | Time to play: 109 minutes | Year: 2023
A doomed magic show should have been saved by the joy of an old woman with a bouquet of flowers, but instead, an elephant is thrown into her lap via magic. Miracle leads in the witty family film. The Wizard’s Elephant to a broken leg, an idyllic town in chaos and a wild adventure for orphaned Peter, proving that nothing in this world is impossible.
The latest addition to Netflix’s children’s catalog is based on Kate DiCamillo’s bestselling fantasy novel. The Wizard’s Elephant, but still gives it his own touch. The setting for Peter’s adventure is the city of Baltese, whose builders have drawn from all corners and eras of Europe to create a diverse dream town. Despite the color palette, adult viewers can feel the aftermath of a recent war, in which the cause of Peter’s suffering can be found.
During the war, Peter was separated from his sister and taken away by a merciful soldier, but the boy could never believe that his adoptive father said that she was no longer alive. The crippled veteran tries to train him to be a soldier, but Peter doesn’t seem cut out for living in the past. When he decides to trade his dinner with a fortune teller for a glimpse into the future, she tells him that he must “follow the elephant” to find her sister. If only one had fallen from the sky…
What follows is a timeless story that is as much a variant of Jason and the Argonauts from King of Katoren: A manic king gives the orphan boy three impossible missions to complete and get the elephant. The way in which the brilliant Peter takes on these challenges is not surprising and at times becomes highly imaginative. Where the film excels is the witty style with which the conventional narrative is still made plausible.
No opportunity is missed to enrich each scene with background detail, creative shots, and plenty of humor with nods to the genre. In many thoughtful ways, it continually becomes clear that the viewer is watching a fairy tale. The film does not lose itself in the sweet Disney formula or in the self-parody of the Shrekfilms. Instead, the film charms with its nuance and plays with expectations about what may or may not be possible. Who wouldn’t want to have a snowball fight with an elephant in the clouds?
The Wizard’s Elephant offers young and old a good old-fashioned story with modern tricks to make the moral of fairy tales palpable. However, tricks are not turned into magic through some superior form of animation or a lightning-fast sequence of events. It’s a heartfelt sense of storytelling and visual humor that gives the film its shine. The Wizard’s Elephant It is and remains a thirteen in a dozen story, but if you really want it, the movie might make you believe for a while.
The Wizard’s Elephant can be seen in Netflix.