Picks and Pans Review: Once Upon a Forest
From some of the same hands that concocted 1986's An American Tail comes this touching, if sometimes treacly, story of arboreal Armageddon. When a chemical-carrying truck veers out of control and dumps its contents, the spill leads to the destruction of the forest primeval home of Abigail, a valiant wood mouse; Russell, a chronically hungry hedgehog; and Edgar, a timorous mole. Worse, the trio's parents have vanished, and their badger companion, Michelle, is nestled al death's door after inhaling the noxious fumes. At the behest of Michelle's sage Uncle Cornelius, Abigail, Russell and Edgar set off to find the herbs that will save their friend.
On their coming-of-age-journey, they pass through the land of the yellow dragons—a construction site full of cranes and bulldozers. They also build a flying machine to reach the cliff-hanging, lumpwart herb. And in the film's most captivating sequence, they rescue a bird from the mud and turn a funeral dirge into a gospel celebration. While the movie's lip-synchronization leaves much to be desired, the creatures great and small are nicely conceived, the settings a vivid eyeful and the ecology lesson sound. (G)