Title: Postman Pat:The Movie
Director: Mike Disa
Major Players: Stephen Mangan, Jim Broadbent, David Tennant (voices only)
Out of five? 3
If you’re a child of the 80s, chances are you spent your pre-school days absorbed in the totally wholesome adventures of the nation’s favourite postie, Pat. Well, here’s your chance to relive those halcyon days – because Postman Pat:The Movie has arrived. And both he and his faithful black and white cat, Jess, have had something of a 21st century makeover.
When a new whizz-kid puts a stop to bonuses at SDS, Pat (voiced by Stephen Mangan) can’t afford the Italian holiday he’s promised his wife, Sarah. So he enters a TV talent competition to win the holiday instead, and finds himself tempted by all the trappings of fame and fortune – and fighting evil forces at his place of work.
And the big screen Greendale is certainly another world from the one we first saw on TV. Gone is the stop motion animation of the original, replaced by the infinitely slicker digital version. And it makes sense. Stop motion was fine for a ten minute show for the under 5s, where the characters didn’t have to show that much in the way of emotion. But this version of Pat is aimed at a different audience – children aged 8-10 and their parents – with higher expectations of what they see on the screen. 80s style stop motion wouldn’t have cut it.
The downside of this is that Pat’s lost some of his charm in his move to digital. It’s all pristine lines, smoothness and ever so slightly clinical. The naivety of the original is no more as well and instead we have a story that aims to be more contemporary, taking a pop at a few familiar targets and throwing in some gags aimed squarely the grown-ups in the audience.
And Pat himself has changed too. He still looks much the same, but now he’s voiced by Stephen Mangan, in his first piece of voice acting for a movie. Having met the extremely likeable Mr Mangan in person, I can understand why he got the gig but, for some unaccountable reason, his voice is just a tad lighter on the big screen. And it just doesn’t match the character. His singing voice, which comes to the fore in the talent contest, is provided by Ronan Keating, and so has an uncannily Irish lilt. Again, not quite a perfect fit.
The other main voices in the film are a different matter. Jim Broadbent’s bumbling-but-likeable old man voice is spot on for Mr Brown, the boss of SDS, Pat’s employer. As is David Tennant, as the voice of Wilf, the unscrupulous manager of Josh, Pat’s main rival in the talent contest. And, just in case we don’t realise who we’re listening to, Wilf has eyebrows scarily similar to Tennant’s.
Postman Pat:The Movie is a film that knows its market and its release on Friday, 23rd means it’ll be packing ‘em in over the Bank Holiday. As a film, it has the occasional nod in the direction of other animated films. It has Wallace and Gromit aspirations, with Jess pulling off some impressive stunts early on, and when Pat is replaced by a robot, none of his friends in Greendale seem to notice the difference – just like when Kermit was replaced by a villainous double in Muppets Most Wanted, only this time it’s even more obvious.
But the final verdict on the film has to go to the eight year old son of a friend of mine, who was at the same screening as me. Did he like it? The question got a very big nod. It’s all you need to know!
Postman Pat:The Movie goes on general release around the UK on Friday, 23 May.