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Movie Review

The Trumpet of the Swan

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Family Drama
1 hr. 15 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 11, 2001
Relevant Issues
Poster art for “The Trumpet of the Swan”
Featuring: Carol Burnett, Jason Alexander, Reese Witherspoon, Jeffrey Schoeny, Mary Steenburgen
Director: Richard Rich, Terry Noss
Producer: Lin Oliver
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

If you are looking for a tender and safe film for your children, I have just the film to recommend. “The Trumpet of the Swan” is a wonderful adaptation of the 1970 E.B. White fable. The movies biggest flaw is that it was released right after “Shrek”. The tragic news is that most theaters did not pick it up, but the good news is that it will be soon out in video.

The animation in the film is decent. Most younger audiences will not mind that the quality is not up to current standards. Visually is does look more appealing than Disney’s “Recess: Schools Out”.

The story is about a swan named Louie (voice by Dee Baker) who is born without a voice. He is a Trumpeter Swan. His two sisters Ella and Billie are born with magnificent calls. His father (voice by Jason Alexander) immediately expresses his disappointment. He tenderly whispers to his wife (voice by Mary Steenburgen) “our son has a defect.” We quickly begin to follow the path of Louie and his struggle to find a voice. We witness the teasing that often happens to children who are different. Louie is told “If you can’t talk, you can’t play.”

Louie is befriended by a boy named Sam (voice by Sam Gifaldi). Sam is at a children’s camp near the lake where the swans live. He admires the birds and soon finds a way to communicate with Louie. It is time to move south for the winter. The swans fly to an area near Billings, Montana. His father is desperate to help relieve the plight of his son. In his desperation, he breaks the law to get Louie a trumpet. This plot point that begins in a negative way is later resolved. It will give a positive message to help children understand the consequences of wrong choices.

Louie’s trumpet playing begins to open many doors for him. It still takes him a long time to find acceptance with the other swans. You will love the journey! Louie even gets to attend school and I love the teacher (voice by Carol Burnett). Louie does fall in love with a swan named Serena (voice by Reese Witherspoon). This becomes another one of Louie’s many obstacles. During his quest to find his voice and now to also try and win the heart of Serena, a swan named Boyd (voice by Seth Green) moves in on “his girl”.

The film has some cute (sometimes scklocky) music. It also has some great jazz trumpet rifts. The story has a lot of heart and echoes the message of Sam’s teacher “if we try our very, very best, we can do anything we set our minds to.” My 10 year old son and I loved Louie’s perseverance. The film does not have the typical teen and parental tie-ins, but it is an excellent treasure to discover. Many noted actors gave loving dedication to this movie and it shows. I can’t wait to add this one to our family’s library.

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