Few pieces of literature deserve the adjectives “timeless classic” such as The Velveteen Rabbit.
Great grandparents read it to your grandparents, who read it to your parents, who read it to you. Some of you read it to your children and grandchildren.
Younger readers have read it themselves.
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The story is simple. Toby has an emotionally distant widower father who is forced to dump the kid on his emotionally distant grandmother at Christmas time. The boy wanders into grandmother’s attic where he discovers a velveteen rabbit, a present never given to him by his late mother.
Magically, the rabbit comes to life, and the attic becomes an animated world full of adventure where a swan that belonged to grandmother and a horse that belonged to dad live.
The Velveteen Rabbit is not rocket science. How the boy and the bunny longing to be real heal the rift between dad and mom and dad and boy is no surprise. Directed and co-written by Michael Landon, Jr. (son of the late Michael Landon), love is the question and the answer and the lesson in this one.
Landon’s film features Jane Seymour, Ellen Burstyn and Tom Skerritt doing the animated vocal chores and the wonderful character actress Una Kay as Nana. Her transformation from grump to granny and her connection to the kid anchor the story. It is terrific.
The movie has an interesting history. It’s made for TV and will soon be out on DVD and is being released to Carmike Cinemas as a special treat. As regular readers know, I believe movies need to be seen on the big screen. The technology that makes them is designed for something bigger than the boob tube.
The Velveteen Rabbit is low budget and simplistic. This, however, is one of those times when less is more. The Velveteen Rabbit is exactly what it needs to be.
Not too simple. Not too deep.
A classic. Like the book.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated G. It opens Friday, Feb. 27 at the Carmike 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.