Prayer Focus
Movie Review

VALIANT

MPAA Rating: G for General Audiences

Reviewed by:
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Genre:
Animation, Comedy, Fantasy
Length:
75 min.
Year of Release:
2005
Featuring: Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadbent, John Cleese, Tim Curry, Rupert Everett
Director: Gary Chapman
Producer: John H. Williams
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
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Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
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Some pigeons eat crumbs, others make history.

One would suspect that the highest ambition in the life of a pigeon would be to find someone kind enough to throw it some bread-crumbs and, if they’re lucky, perhaps a few sunflower seeds as well. Not so with Valiant (voice of Ewan McGregor). For him, the thing he wants the most is to serve his country, Britain, as a messenger pigeon.

The messenger pigeons are respected and revered as heroes in the pigeon society, and when the general visits his hometown in search of army recruits, Valiant literally falls on his face in his eagerness to sign up.

After a period of vigorous training, it seems Valiant and his troop are the last hope for Britain and must, at all costs, make their way across the English Channel, past the nasty German falcons, and into France, where they must receive a message and take it back to Britain. It seems that the fate of Europe rests in their claws, for in that message is the location of Normandy Beach.

Positive content: Valiant is a courageous young bird, eager to fight and willing to give his life for the cause. Because he is so short, he is ridiculed by the other pigeons, who think he won’t have a chance in the war, but he doesn’t give up and goes for it anyway.

As the troop nears their final destination, Valiant takes on the role of leader when the others are too afraid and often volunteers to do the dangerous parts of their mission.

Bugsy (voice of Ricky Gervais), the first pigeon Valiant meets in London, is a crude and cowardly fellow, who often belches and is generally crude. Moreover, he is a dishonest and tries to do everything he can to get out of the army. Valiant admonishes him, telling him that he also is afraid, but that they must go on, because going back means having to face the thing we fear anyway, when it will already be too late. Bugsy has a change of heart and although he remains crude and dirty, he finds a sense of courage and honor and also becomes a hero of the story.

Sex/nudity: Other than a few short kisses, nothing particularly objectionable. All of the pigeons seem to be overcome with a great desire to impress the pretty nurse Victoria, and Bugsy in particular is the leader in this, even throwing out an innuendo or two (nothing too crude and will undoubtedly go over most kids’ heads).

Language: nothing, other than mild insults and colorful phrases (like “Shut up!”)

Violence: lots and lots and LOTS of slapstick violence. The poor birds can’t seem to do anything without crashing into windows, poles, lanterns, each other, etc. In the opening scene, menacing falcons swoop down on pigeons, leaving nothing but feathers. The leader of the falcons, Von Talon (voice of Tim Curry), is scary and mean, as are his henchmen. Usually his methods of torturing his prisoners are unique and rather tame to say the least, but at one point he threatens a captive with a nasty-looking syringe—not a scene for those with needle phobias.

Also, we briefly see planes exploding in the air and on the ground during a dogfight, and also some bombed out buildings. However, I think that if your children could handle Finding Nemo, they’ll be able to handle this, as I felt they are both on the same level, as far as violence and scariness go.

Conclusion: Messenger pigeons played a large part in World War 2. Indeed, some words at the end of the film tell us that 32 pigeons were given awards for bravery and service in war. This is a historical fact, whether or not it is true that it was pigeons responsible for giving Britain the go ahead for Normandy. Personally, I found this movie somewhat lacking in the charm and wit of such recent computer-animated attempts as “Finding Nemo” or other Pixar works, but it was refreshing to see a kids’ movie without crude jokes (i.e. “Shrek 2”) or too many fart-jokes.

Also, the animation is usually stunning, and the humor very British, but usually very funny. It brought to mind the good old days, when animated movies gave kids moral heroes to root for, and this movie is indeed a Valiant attempt to do just that.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/nudity: Minor

Year of Release—2005 / USA release: August 19, 2005 (wide).

Viewer Comments
Neutral—Average, okay movie. Decent family film. Nothing fantastic or memorable about it though. It’s not really worth going to the theater for… would recommend waiting for the DVD on this one.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3
—Elicia, age 36
Positive—…a fun, family movie.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3
—Teresa D’Errico, age 29
Positive—I took my 4 year old and my 7 year old to see this movie and I would recommend it. My 4 year old is easily frightened but wasn’t scared in the movie. I did notice a few “shut ups” but my kids know not to say that.

My only objection is the sexual attraction between Valiant and the nurse. The movie ends with a kiss (on the beaks) but we teach that kisses are for family and for the person you marry. It is disappointing that movies targeted for young children add sexual content that is way over their heads and serves no purpose but to push thoughts on kids at a young age. Yes, God created sexuality and sex drives, but not for children.

I would recommend it for a fun day at the movies with some time afterward looking up information on WWII and the use of pigeons, which is educational.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Elizabeth, age 34
Positive—This movie a real pleaser! The animation was fantastic! The characters were well thought out, and the history that was brought into it was a smart twist. I took my 3 old daughter, 4 yr. son, and 5 yr. old handicap son to watch this film. They were VERY greatly entertained! I would HIGHLY recommend this movie to whoever wants to watch a great film. Thank-you Walt Disney for another splendid, wholesome movie…
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Keirra Dumas, age 23

Comments from young people
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. Although I think they overdid the crash scenes… there was nothing that was really wrong with the movie. It also reminded me of Stuart Little. This movie was mainly directed toward kids, but I don’t think teens will fall asleep in it.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Briana, age 13
Positive—This movie was so good! My brothers (3 and 10) and I loved it. We laughed through the whole thing. It was pretty clean for a Disney movie. There was a bit of crude humor and a couple of innuendos, but it would go right over younger kids heads. I would recommend it for all ages.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Linda, age 14
Positive—I thought that this movie would be childish and boring when my little brother dragged me along to see it. But I quite injoyed it! It was funny and charming. It teaches us that if we try hard enough we can do anything no matter how big we are!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
—Nathan, age 13
Neutral—My family and I saw this movie, and it was nothing special. Overall, the movie was okay. I wouldn’t see it again, but if you’re looking for a pretty clean movie “Valiant” is okay.
My Ratings: Average / 3
—Lauren, age 12
Movie Critics
…The animation is lovely, but the pace is wrong…
—E! Online
…Younger children will probably enjoy Gervais’ puffed-up Bugsy, an endless repository of fart, belch and armpit jokes…
—BBC
…manages to hover just above the level of pigeon droppings…
—The Boston Phoenix
…Enjoyable comedy with decent animation and a superb voice cast, though it lacks the invention and quickfire gags of a Pixar movie.
—Matthew Turner, View London
…honors their heroism in a delightful way…
—Lisa Rice, Crosswalk
…a perfectly competent cartoon, though rarely a thing of beauty. It’s occasionally funny…
—Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel