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THE LITTLE PRINCE: 4 ½ STARS. “should spark young imaginations.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 2.16.12 PMChildren’s films don’t get much more magical, or grown up, than “The Little Prince.” A film about wonderment and tragedy, about belief and the importance of dreams, it has important messages for kids, no matter how old they are.

The story begins with an overprotective mother (voice of Rachel McAdams) buys a new house so her daughter (Mackenzie Foy) will be eligible to go to the Werth Academy, the best school in town. Mom is a Type A personality who has an intricate life plan for the little girl who she calls, “My Senior VP.” The house is perfect, trouble is, it’s next-door to a ramshackle home inhabited The Aviator (Jeff Bridges) an eccentric old man who introduces himself by revving up his backyard airplane and sending a propeller shooting through their living room wall.

This inauspicious intro doesn’t bode well for the new neighbours but soon, as The Aviator begins to tell The Little Girl the story of The Little Prince, a boy who lived on the planet scarcely bigger than himself and who is in need of a friend, she is won over and risks a visit with the old man in the mysterious house.

He continues the story of his encounter with The Little Prince until Mother forbids her daughter from spending any more time with the old man. When he is rushed to the hospital, however, the girl is inconsolable. Determined to reunite The Aviator with his old friend the Prince she goes on an adventure into the asteroids.

A mix of computer and otherworldly stop motion animation, “The Little Prince” is a work of art that brims with creativity and emotion. “Kung Fu Panda” director Mark Osborne has adapted Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic novella for the screen without losing the magic that made the book so special.

It’s a gently told story that should spark young imaginations and remind older viewers of the importance of hanging on to childhood memories. “Growing up is not the problem,” says The Aviator, “forgetting is.” It’s a potent message when seen through the eyes of a young, unhappy girl being pushed by her Mother to grow up too quickly. As the metaphorical stories unfurl, she learns a new, fantastic way of looking at life.

“The Little Prince” would make a nice companion piece to “Inside Out.” They are very different kinds of films—“Inside Out” is more frenetic, less metaphorical—but both strike a chord in their unique becoming an adult.

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