Lionel Jeffries directs and co-writes this live action and animated feature based on Charles Kingsley's novel. 12-year-old Tom (Tommy Pender) is an amiable young lad apprenticed to the dishonest Master Chimney Sweep Grimes (James Mason). When the boy is falsely accused of stealing, he escapes his pursuers by running away and jumping into Dead Man's Pool. Under the water's surface, he is transported to an animated world and finds himself having to rescue some new friends. After discovering this amazing new world and getting caught up in its adventures, will he ever get to return back home? The cast also includes Billie Whitelaw, David Tomlinson, David Jason, Jon Pertwee and Una Stubbs.
The Water Babies tells the story of Tom, a chimney sweep who gets framed for theft in 1850s England. Even though a young girl named Ellie knows the real thieves' identities and tries to clear Tom's name, Tom's desperate escape run lands him right in the middle of Dead Man's Pool. Assumed to have met certain death, Tom gets sucked into a magical underwater world. Tom befriends the creatures he meets beneath the sea, and they accompany him on a journey to the land of Water Babies, where he intends to ask the all-powerful Cracken to help him return to the world above the water. However, when Tom finally does manage to return to land, life is far from idyllic as he must set out clear his name and trap the real thieves.
Many adults possess fond memories of seeing this 1978 movie as children. The land portions of this musical feature live-action footage, while the water sequence is fully animated. To a fresh, modern audience, the abrupt change from one format to the other is somewhat disconcerting, as is the choppy, older animation style. The story, based on the classic children's book of the same name by Charles Kingsley, is an intriguing look at both Victorian culture and the fantasy world. (Ages 4-8) --Tami Horiuchi, Amazon.com