This must be the finest production of "Wind in the Willows" ever likely to be made. Perfect casting, the clever decision not to hide the actors behind animal masks, and a witty script make it ideal viewing for the whole family - as the BBC knew when it proved central to their Christmas schedule in 2006.
Matt Lucas is a delight as Toad - bombastic, sly, innocent and insufferable he brings real warmth to the character and proves he has a good singing voice for the simple little ditties that feature in the programme. His promises to never ever-ever-ever-ever-EVER etc do something again are comedy gold! The action begins with underground-dwelling Mole (Lee Ingleby) escaping from his Spring Cleaning to travel above ground where he meets the laid-back English gent Rat (Mark Gattis) and his gruff, growly chum Badger (Bob Hoskins). The glorious summer English countryside is provided by Romania and the boating, fishing and caravanning scenes are as perfect as could be.
But it is Toad and his love of motor-cars which provides the centre for this story as his 3 friends try to stop him killing himself with his shocking driving - not to mention wasting his inheritance on more and more vehicles.
Extra Featurette "Further Adventures of Toad" is NOT as the title would imply a further little story, but instead a good look behind-the-scenes of the making of this production. From the baking heat of Romania to the stunning news that Matt Lucas cannot drive in real life (!) cast and crew provide interviews and insights into what must have been one of the happiest, funniest dramas to be part of in recent years.
"Wind in the Willows" is a childhood favourite for millions - and often the very first school play they ever participate in. This production would surely win the support of Kenneth Graham - his characters are brought to life with all the faults, failings and personalities fully intact. The fight between our heroes and the dastardly Weazels is a joy of stunt work and comedy - and the ending predicts that Wonderful Mr Toad will soon have another venture in mind.....
For me this is a wonderful film. It completely captures the magic of the original story (much loved since childhood) and without being precious about it. The humour, the atmosphere and characterisations are perfectly pitched and the setting is beautiful. I'm not a great re-watcher of films but I watched this one twice as soon as I'd received it.
Inspired casting and imaginative production - a real 'feel good' movie for the whole family. True to the original Kenneth Grahame book, my 4 grandkids (ages 3 to 11)and I were well entertained by this wonderful film. Highly recommended. Poop poop.
This was the best thing on TV throughout the entire Christmas holiday, possibly the entire year! This was a wonderful show, sweet and delightful with great humour. I laughed all the way through it! I was so impressed with all the performances, but Matt Lucas stood out especially. He was born to play Toad. He absolutely steals the show as he is spot on perfect. Mark Gatiss, Lee Ingleby, Bob Hoskins and all the cast were also perfect in their parts and were a joy to watch.
At first, I felt a little silly watching a "kid's" show (as our children are in their late teens/early 20s). But I realised very quickly, this was a production for everyone. Do not mistakenly think this is for kids. You will be missing out on a wonderful experience.
Get this DVD, sit back and enjoy! You will not be disappointed!
Kenneth Graham's story is a childhood classic whose charm I believe has been eroded by various 're-imaginings' and plasticine figure short films that do not resemble the characters or stories. This adaptation reminded me how much Graham had to say about friendship, courage and adventure. So much so that I went to buy the book to read again. That this version moved me to go back to Graham's tale as an adult is the greatest praise I can give it.
The production standards, script and direction are absolutely enchanting with not a single jarring note. However, the central performances of Matt Lucas as Toad, Mark Gatiss as Ratty and Lee Ingleby as Mole and Lee Hall's script are what eleveate this to one of the best features I have seen on television in years. The producers wisely kept any makeup to a minimum, merely suggesting animal features, and allowed the actors to physically portray their characteristics. This restraint pays off and every performance in utterly convincing but does not get in the way of what is essentially a very human tale of friendship and adventure. Instead the CGI effects which are used are always appropriate and contribute seemlessly and relevantly rather than appearing for the sake of it.
Although it is hard to single out an individual in a project so successful that clearly a great team worked on it I have to say that Lee Ingleby both carried and stole the show. As Mole he leads the audience through the tale and conveys the perfect mix of anxiety when faced with the unknown but enough courage to overcome his hesitation and be rewarded with friendship and new experiences. I think all of us can relate to that timidity and aspire to overcoming it and forming connections with the people and world about us. Mole's myopic horizons become with the help of his friends and his own resources a vista of possibilities and Lee Ingleby convinces you of this with a charming performance that is never heavy-handed. If I seem to be reading a little too much into the portrayal of an animal in a children's story I can only recommend that you buy this DVD and watch Mr. Ingleby's performance. He is the extra special element in an absolutely fabulous production.