UK | USA 2017
Opening January 5, 2017
Directed by: Gary Andrews
Writing credits: Laura Beaumont, Paul Larson
Principal actors: Animation with Steven Kynman, David Tennant
This animated film for younger children will be familiar to fans of the BBC cartoon series of the same name. Set in the Welsh town of Pontypandy – evidently the most diverse and accident-prone enclave in all of Wales – it focuses on the emergency services team led by Fireman Sam. As usual, the town’s children set off on an adventure and hapless Norman Price ends up in a jam. (This is the formula for almost every episode of the cartoon, although occasionally someone other than Norman needs rescuing.)
What makes this stop-motion film fun is that this adventure involves an alien hunter who’s come to Pontypandy to investigate sightings of a UFO and to film the latest episode of his TV show about aliens. When the children discover an alien lurking in Pontypandy’s nearby woods, they set out to capture it and poor old Norman ends up needing Fireman Sam’s team to rescue him. The story is funny and thoroughly entertaining for kids and has just enough in it to keep adults awake.
The five- and six-year olds I watched with were totally enthralled. They laughed throughout the movie and, despite the dramatic nature of some of the scenes, they were never really scared. (For the record, the six-year old who watched this with me is scared of almost everything on the big screen, so this is noteworthy!) The story is handled in a way that makes it clear that the adults have everything under control while keeping kids excited. I highly recommend this for families with younger children. (Diana S.)