In the Euro-animated “Yellowbird,” an agoraphobic orphaned hatchling is entrusted with the task of leading a flock of bluebirds from Northern France to their winter home in Africa.
The animation is average, but it is the locations that sell this comic kiddie travelogue. It helps that the bird, sheltered from the outside world (or flying, for that matter) has no sense of direction. But attempting to save the bluebird patriarch (Danny Glover) from feral cats means he’s the one given those last, dying instructions.
“Trust yourself. You will find a path.”
That lack of direction means Yellowbird (voiced by Seth Green) has no idea where this “River of Fireflies”or other way points the small flock is supposed to pass over will be. He gets sidetracked into Holland, where a Dutch innkeeper owl (Elliott Gould) and his staff of rats try not to set them on the right course until they’ve rented them some rooms. There’s a sea crossing that has the flock — Dakota Fanning voices the cute bluebird who trusts Yellowbird, with Christine Baranski and Richard Kind also in the voice cast — imperiled. There are “Iron Birds” to be avoided, especially at high altitudes.
And they’re contending with seasons “out of kilter,” unseasonal storms and polluted cities and the like.
The dialogue of the English language version of this French comedy is thin on laughs.
“Oh my God, I’ve got to MOLT. I can’t wear THIS color for autumn!”
Yellowbird must learn to face the world, “be tough” and embrace the unexplored world he’s traveling through.
It all adds up to perfectly banal kids’ entertainment, with just a single decent plot twist, a few cute lines and a tried and a couple of trite and true messages — “Trust yourself” and “stop polluting” stand out.
MPAA Rating: PG for mild peril
Cast: The voices of Seth Green, Dakota Fanning, Christine Baranski, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould
Credits: Directed by Christian De Vita, written by Antoine Barraud, Cory Edwards. A Wrekin Hill release.
Running time: 1:30