By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
It’s tough to say if the Czech made Even Mice Belong In Heaven will hit a chord with audiences world-wide, but there’s a simplistic charm to like in this work directed by directors Jan Bubenicek and Denisa Grimmová.
Part of it is due to the artistry put into this stop motion work. The concept design is not too sophisticated, and the presentation recalls the style from those Rankin/Bass classics. It’s also just as comparable to Fantastic Mr. Fox. I like to think it’s a different take on All Dogs go to Heaven but thematically, the scare about whether a pecking order matters in the world “Of Mice and Men.” That idea is furthered in Zootopia.
This film follows Whizzy (Simona Berman), a mouse who is too brave for her own good. After ripping off a bit of fur from Whitebelly (Graham Halstead), a sleeping fox, she thinks she’s as brave as her pops. But her bravado is short-lived. Whitebelly awakens and chases the rodent to a road with a quickly approaching vehicle coming towards them both.
The two critters wake up in animal heaven. Unless they work together rather than apart, both won’t have a chance at a happily ever after, or reincarnation. They are presented with challenges to further develop their character. Whizzy hopes to be reunited with her father but her selfishness puts her developing friendship with the fox at risk. Whitebelly doesn’t want to eat her, but admits to being the one who killed her father. He’s asking forgiveness despite being told by his peers in this afterlife to grow a backbone. The other animals the rodent and fox meet are shadows of what they once were. Can they overcome their primal nature or ascend to be like monks?
There’s some uncomfortable reveals, but in Heaven, reconciliation is encouraged. Hatred and fear can be overcome. The lessons Whizzy learns are important and its her hero’s journey that’s the focus to help nurture who she’ll be in her next life. The fox is doubtful to the very end.
This tale takes on a few complexities concerning reincarnation, like in PIXAR’s Soul. The lessons learned show that everyone can be equal in their own right rather than to become an alpha. It’s a perfect tale to watch during the holiday season and is available to stream.
4 Stars out of 5