Valiant (2005)

valiantMessenger pigeons were a crucial aspect to the victory of World War 2, and an integral foundation to the survival of the soldiers on the battlefield. “Valiant” is a fun adventure story revolving around messenger pigeons during the Second World War, and it’s surprisingly entertaining. I know it’d be hip to describe “Valiant” as simply lackluster, but I had fun, I had a lot fun, and there are possible reasons for it: I love the British culture, so I have a weakness for anything involving it. I love British comedy. And I love British comedians, and the cast is filled with nothing but talented, legendary British actors and comedians. I mean with cast of Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Tim Curry, John Cleese, and many, many more, how could I not enjoy this film? And I did.

I knew it was another underdog story, and I knew the good guys would win out in the end, but so what? The animation is fantastic. It’s flawless how we can go from explosions in the air that are almost lifelike to which we pan down to visit our heroes whom are nothing but cartoon birds, and rather heroic ones, at that. What I enjoyed about this was that it is too mature for American sensibilities, and yet, just fun enough for children to enjoy, and that’s what’s so unique about it in the end. But I couldn’t help notice how utterly predictable the plot was, and the script never really bothers to break free from the formula the audience is expecting regardless of how fun it is, and that makes it feel lazy, almost as if the creators didn’t care much about story, and really only focused on animation.

We already know how the romance will end up, we already know how the characters will work, we know that they’ll prove themselves on the battlefield, and we know where the ending is headed. Sadly, nothing here ever really screams original, especially when you take into consideration that Ewan McGregor’s role as the character Valiant is basically just another variation on his character in “Robots” as Rodney Copperbottom, and that makes Valiant boring. Most of the fun is in watching these talented actors do their work. While I enjoyed all the performances from utterly talented people like Hugh Laurie, and Tim Curry, it’s hard to top the fun voice work of Ricky Gervais who is hilarious as the stinky bird Bugsy, a street hustler who accidentally enlists as a soldier pigeon.

“Valiant” explores the courageous feats of the animals, while having fun with it showing heroes duking it out with the evil Falcons who want a special message that could decide the fate of the war. I liked this movie a lot, from the references to “The Dirty Dozen”, the wisely minimal romance sub-plot, to the whole “Saving Private Ryan” theme, “Valiant” is a fun simplistic cheeky British cartoon that entertained me consistently. Even though the plot is predictable, and the character of Valiant is boring, “Valiant” is an entertaining simple kids film that enlists the talents of a powerhouse ensemble of British comedians and actors, and you can’t beat that.