THE VELVETEEN RABBIT (2023)
Genre: Animation. Drama.
Director: Jennifer Perrott. Rick Thiele.
Actors: Phoenix Laroche. Ellie Mejia. Samantha Colley.
Streaming On: Apple TV+
"Based on the classic book by Margery Williams, "The Velveteen Rabbit" celebrates the magic of unconditional love. When William receives a new favorite toy for Christmas, he discovers a lifelong friend and unlocks a world of magic."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
The Velveteen Rabbit has long been a favorite children’s book at our house so I knew what I was getting into with this heartbreaker of a film. That said, the live action - animation hybrid does a skillful job of breaking down one’s defenses and leaving viewers a sniffling, sobbing mess. You were warned.
It’s truly a lovely film. I’ll never tire of watching British children explore vast houses in the English countryside – between that, the garden fairy and the magical talking toys, this film version of The Velveteen Rabbit definitely evokes the best of Narnia.
If I have one area of contention with The Velveteen Rabbit, it’s the tired old trope of the sad, lonely only child. Granted, by the end young William is feeling more confident and ready to play with his next-door neighbors, but I really felt for this poor kid throughout most of the movie. What on earth were his parents doing and why didn’t they or his nanny spend more time with him?
I loved the mix of live action, CGI animation and stop motion animation to depict various fantasy and imagination scenes. The actors did a terrific job with their parts; I especially loved Helena Bonham Carter as the voice of the wise and kind toy horse.
The 45-minute length is perfect for family movie nights with young ones. Kids will benefit from the way William models coping with the difficult situation of moving to a strange new home and school, leaving behind his cherished teacher and friends.
Parents and other caregivers will appreciate the film adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit’s timeless message that “Being Real is what happens when a child loves you for a long, long time. It hurts a bit – but it’s worth it.” One of my other favorite lines from the movie came from the wise toy horse who advises the rabbit: “You mustn’t wish to be different. You’re perfect the way you are.”
The rabbit’s journey is not an easy one, and there are moments of peril, but his moments of joy playing with William are delightful to see. The beautifully crafted payoff at the end is sure to evoke tears from even the hardest-hearted viewers.
Bottom line: if you don’t cry reading or watching The Velveteen Rabbit, you should probably see someone about that.