Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sir Billi review - Little White Lies

Short review of Scottish children's animated feature 'Sir Billi' for LWLies

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A truly bizarre Scottish animated feature boasting the vocal talents of Sir Sean Connery.

In the midst of a flashback brought on by the seemingly imminent death of his goat assistant, Sir Billi (Sean Connery) recalls himself in his rocking chair, goat by his side, reading a copy of 'Identity Crisis: What To Do When It Hits You'.

If only this fictitious book actually existed it could have given this film's creators some much-needed advice. Gordon the Goat's inexplicable slips from his Scotch patter into outbursts of "you da man" and "whadda guy" reveal him as the most confused character in what is an immensely confused film.

Sir Billi, the "Guardian of the Highlands", rushes into action to rescue Bessie Boo the beaver after she falls into a river while attempting to save her friends. The sinister Officer McKenzie complicates Billi's attempts to prevent Bessie from being liquidised by the turbines of a hydroelectric dam because of his obsession with tracking down and deporting the last of her species from Scotland.

Among the many questions Sascha Hartmann's wrong-headed Sir Billi leaves unanswered is why this Highlands tale is so densely populated with Americans? Why exactly does Ruby Wax's character have to be traversing the rolling Scottish Highlands on a scooter emblazoned with the stars and stripes? Why is Ruby Wax even in this film?

The only other explanation for the presence of "all these Yanks" seems to be as a plot device to discuss that most hard-hitting and vital of topics: Scottish-US visa agreements. Surprisingly for a film aimed at children, there are numerous explicit references to politics, such as the Scottish government, immigration policy and even the European Union.

Even more bizarrely, a Russian experimental submarine with reactor difficulties surfaces in the middle of a loch, unleashing a talking duck which in turn delivers  an anti-Communist tirade.

While the sense of bafflement and confusion the film provokes is surprisingly enjoyable, it surely shouldn't be inflicted on young'uns for the fear they may leave the cinema having absorbed some incomprehensible political message, believing that the Cold War rages on and the Scottish Highlands are populated by talking ducks with US accents.

Anticipation 2: Sean Connery voices a skateboarding veterinarian.

Enjoyment 2: Entertaining… if perplexing.

In Retrospect 2: Just whose boxes were they trying to tick?

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