Although I’m no parent (unless you’re counting cats!), I can certainly appreciate the difficult parents have in raising a child. I don’t subscribe to that whole “it takes a village” nonsense, but I do think communities do have something to offer by way of ‘assisting’ any parent in instilling good behaviors and respectable beliefs. In fact, I think having someone to rely on in a community – no matter its size – is increasingly important: who wouldn’t want to have a neighbor willing to give you a cup of sugar if you needed one? Those sentiments are very near and dear to the core of LOST AND FOUND, a wonderful short feature (about 25 minutes) exploring a boy, a penguin, and the ocean that divides yet joins their respective shores.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
One day – out of the blue – a penguin comes knocking at a young boy’s door. As is customary, the boy opens it, and the bird walks in, helping himself to the place and its surroundings. Believing the small thing is lost, the boy embarks on a journey to see it returned to its home … even at the risk to himself and the loss of a possible new friend.
LOST AND FOUND clocks in at under 30 minutes, and, at that length, I’d imagine it’s exactly the kind of feature that children – especially very young ones – would find outstanding. Based on the best-selling book by Oliver Jeffers, the film is basically a story about finding friendship in not only the most unlikely place but also how effortlessly friendship develops despite little effort on one’s part. The boy and the bird – there are no names as none are really needed for tales of this type – find one another completely by chance, and, similarly, they come to rely on one another in much the same way.
The animation is certainly crisp, and the story unfolds at a pace needed to develop the relationship. It’s not entirely without some danger or intrigue – the boy chooses to row a small boat from his homeland all the way to the South Pole to return to the bird to its family; as such, they do encounter a heavy and dangerous storm at sea as well as the hints of a possible sea monster – but it’s all told in a way that underscores the harmlessness of it all. Some parents might take issue with that – no one would want their small child embarking in reality on such a journey – but that might be a good jumping off point for discussion should the young one be at that point in his or her development.
Otherwise, this is a tale of whimsy, one narrated by Academy Award winning actor Jim Broadbent, and I imagine most audiences will find it enchanting.
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that LOST AND FOUND is the recipient of four awards, including the 2009 BAFTA Children’s Award, the award for Best TV Special from the 2009 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, the Children’s Jury Award from the 2009 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, and the Politiken’s Short Film Award from the 2010 Buster International Children’s Film Festival. Hats off to everyone involved!
LOST AND FOUND (2008) is produced by Contender Entertainment Group and Studio Aka. DVD distribution is being handled through Entertainment One (aka E One). As for the technical specifications, this animated short film has been delivered with the highest quality sight and sound available. Special features are usually a rarity when it comes to children’s programming, but there is a wonderful ‘making of’ featurette available – in fact, it’s longer than the feature! Kids probably won’t be moved by it, but even the most cynical adult among us might find its magic inviting.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Short. Sweet. Delightful. Those are three words to sum up LOST AND FOUND. It’s a short, sweet, and delightful li’l story of a boy and a penguin who realize that sometimes it isn’t where you’re from or where you’re heading but rather it’s who you’re with. The fact that you have someone can be a very powerful motivating force in anyone’s life, and that’s a remarkable lesson that certainly should be shared with both the young and the young-at-heart.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Entertainment One (aka E One) provided me with a DVD copy of LOST AND FOUND by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.