I understand now why Paramount dropped this film, and let Netflix gobble it up for distribution. The movie has an age-old problem: how to adapt a fantastical novella about the more ephemeral aspects of life and growing up into a feature length animated film? In this case, the filmmakers elected to add a narrative framing device: a young girl in a conformist, grey-bleak society trapped by the crushing expectations and ordered life of her repulsive mother, begins to get a whiff of creativity and life when she moves next door to a crazy old man who tells her stories about a Little Prince from a faraway land.
The stories, framed through flashbacks, are drawn from the novella and are illustrated in a fluid, impressionistic style (like the beautiful, evocative image above), whereas the main narrative is animated in a conventional style that could have been plucked from any DreamWorks Animation reel. The problem here is that nobody gives a fuck about this little girl’s journey to break free from societal constraints via her exposure to the world of the Little Prince. What we want is the Little Prince! His story gets back-benched and becomes an incidental source of motivation for this little girl as she struggles to overcome her totally iodine, cookie-cutter obstacles and realize that creativity will set her free or some other easily digestible, feel-good message appropriate for a children’s movie.
This was the wrong choice. The Little Prince should be about The Little Prince. It should stick with the enchanting, impressionistic visual style and tell us about his journey and the insights that can be gleaned from it. Above all, it should make us feel something. Instead, it is deployed to serve the highly formulaic needs of a fabricated little girl and her rote character arc, as she hijacks the source material to prop up a boring narrative. If the source material couldn’t meet the demands of a feature length film, than they should have just settled for a gorgeous short film or not made it at all. Not everything needs to be a feature. The path these filmmakers ultimately chose was not the right one for this material and I had to turn the movie off because it was literally too boring to finish.