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4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of their best, but good songs make it an enjoyable film!, 18 Oct 2007
This review is from: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame [DVD] (DVD)
Jetlag Productions' 1996 animated film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is yet another title in the large line of Goodtimes Entertainment's children animated outputs. I'll make it clear right now that this is not Disney's animated feature released the same year, so don't think you'll be getting a Disney product, quality or no quality, for such a low price as this. Instead of wasting time making detailed comparisons between Disney's film and Jetlag's, I'll review this film based on its own merits and ignore any different adaptations of this story. To be frank, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was not Jetlag Productions' finest hour, perhaps this adult story was simply not intended to become a children's film in any way. Like most animated films from the studio, The Hunchback of Notre Dame has its good points and its bad points.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame was inspired by Victor Hugo's timeless novel, "Notre Dame de Paris", and tells the story of a misshapen young man named Quasimodo. It was Quasimodo Sunday when a peasant mother left her newborn baby at the foundlings shelf within the walls of the cathedral of Notre Dame. The baby, who was horribly misshapen and had the instincts as a wolf cub, was discovered by a young priest named Claude Frollo, who vowed to adopt the baby and raise him out of love for his own family, which had recently died due to a plague; the priest named the baby "Quasimodo" in honor of that day. When he grew up, Quasimodo became the bell-ringer of the cathedral, and was deafened because of the loud bells he had grown to love. Quasimodo became the object of great interest to the people of Paris, for though everyone knew he was the bell-ringer, nobody had ever seen him outside of the cathedral. Some time later, a beautiful gypsy girl named Esmeralda is accused of a crime she hadn't commited: stabbing an arrogant man named Phoebus, who had made Esmeralda believe he was in love with her. In reality, the crime had been commited by Claude Frollo, who had become archdeacon of Paris. Claude Frollo had become crazed and angry due to a romantic obsession with the gypsy girl Esmeralda. Quasimodo helps Esmeralda in her situation, and the two soon form a great friendship, for both learn to see the value of each other within their skin, rather than outside.

Like I said, this was definitely not one of Jetlag Productions' finest hours. The storyline is very weak and though it was simplified to be suitable for children, I doubt it could hold the attention of any child for too long. The story remains hard to follow for younger audiences and the fairy-tale ending of the story may disappoint adults. The animation isn't better or worse than any other Jetlag Productions film, though it does get sort of repetitive sometimes, just like in Alice in Wonderland (1995). The best thing about this film is, without a doubt, the songs. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is true to Jetlag's rule of three songs per animated film, and there was no disappointment for me here. The opening song, "Pity not Quasimodo" may be a bit too short, but opens the film nicely with the message that Quasimodo was not to be pitied despite his appearance, for he had a noble heart and was good inside; the second song, my favorite, "Queen of My Heart" expresses the inner beauty and kindness of the gypsy girl Esmeralda, who is of admiration to many men, both good and bad. Finally, the ending credits song, "Love is Everything", reminds me of other Jetlag Productions songs with a message of true love in the style of "Follow Your Heart" (Sleeping Beauty, 1995) and "A Little Bit of Magic" (Snow White, 1996). In the end, Jetlag Productions' The Hunchback of Notre Dame doesn't compare favorably to Disney's animated film in terms of animation; it is as equally mediocre in terms of story and features its own collection of sweet songs to make the film enjoyable. I won't recommend this 45-minute animated film to the very young as I usually do with these films, but for a slightly older audience, for this is a more mature story even if simplified for the kids.
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