Movie Name: The Little Prince
Studio: Kaibou Productions
Release Date(s): May 22, 2015 (Cannes)/August 5, 2016 (US
MPAA Rating: PG
A little girl has a mother with big dreams for her. Moving into a neighborhood to get her daughter enrolled in a prestigious academy, the girl finds herself living next to a strange eccentric man. The man reveals he was a pilot and tells the story of the Little Prince…a boy he met in a desert years ago. The story of the Little Prince isn’t always happy, but it also isn’t always sad…and it will send the girl on an adventure.
Directed by Mark Osborne, The Little Prince is based on the classic 1943 novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The movie premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2015 but didn’t receive a release until 2016. The movie was released on Netflix in the U.S. and received mostly positive reviews.
I loved The Little Prince. We had to read the novel in French (it is a widely assigned book for people learning languages) and have gone on to read it multiple times. I looked forward to The Little Prince film when I learned it was happening…but adaptations don’t always work out.
The Little Prince starts out strong. It is a great story about how life is about loss, but that loss isn’t always bad. The girl doesn’t get to experience a childhood because her mother wants the biggest and the best for her and the aviator helps her learn to be a kid again before it is too late. The writing does a nice job conveying this idea that time has a strange fluidity…but then the second half comes.
The second half of the movie is new and has the girl seeking out the Little Prince (who has grown up) and teaching him to be young again. While the concept is good, it takes away from the weird sweetness of the story by adding more adventure. While the story does come back around, it feels like the movie would be better served as a short.
The cast is strong. With Jeff Bridges and Mackenzie Foy as the aviator and the little girl with Rachel McAdams playing her mother. Other cast members include James Franco as the fox, Marion Cotillard as the rose, Bud Cort as the king, Benicio del Toro as the snake, Paul Giamatti as the academy teacher, Ricky Gervais as the conceited man, Paul Rudd as the adult prince, and a strong performance by Albert Brooks as the ruthless businessman.
The movie also looks fantastic. It is CGI but also captures a lot of the books imagery. You can tell that the filmmakers expected a bigger reception for the film. This is a plus for viewers that get to see it for “free” on streaming services like Netflix, but I imagine that it isn’t quite what the makers hoped for.
The Little Prince is a quandary. I liked a lot about it, but I also feel that it went off the rails for a good chunk of the film. Though the film is a “children’s” story, it really is for adults and an attempt to reawaken the memories of being a child and what it all meant. Many of the ideas and concepts are too much for young viewers but the attempt at adventure by this film turns away older viewers. Watch The Little Prince, but you might find yourself yearning to reread the book instead (and you might as well do that).