on November 14, 1997 by Lisa Osborne
This enchanting fairy-tale, the first release from Fox Animation Studios, is pure family entertainment. Set in 1916, it tells the possible story of Princess Anastasia, heir to the Russian Romanov dynasty, who, in this telling, survives a curse cast on her family by the evil sorcerer Rasputin (voiced by Christopher Lloyd).
As she flees the Romanov palace, young Anastasia (voiced by Kirsten Dunst) falls and hits her head. Found wandering the streets of St. Petersburg with no memory, she winds up at the local orphanage. The plot thickens as Anya (Anastasia--the adult version voiced by Meg Ryan) befriends Dimitri (John Cusack), a local con-artist who is looking for a young girl to impersonate Anastasia and secure the reward offered by her grandmother, the Empress Marie (Angela Lansbury).
But upon finding out Anastasia is still alive, the soulless Rasputin sets out to kill Anya and complete his curse.
Rasputin's sidekick, Bartok (voiced by Hank Azaria), the albino bat, is endowed with unwitting comic genius and a great sense of timing that takes the edge off some scenes that might be scary to younger viewers. He also gets lots of laughs from children and adults alike. In Anya, Fox has found a modern-day, spunky heroine. Precocious as a child, she grows up to become an independent, self-confident woman with a quick wit who delivers some great one-liners. There is also more chemistry between the two animated leads--Anya and Dimitri--than apparent in many romantic clinches between actor and actress.
The only negative about this movie was its rewriting of history. It would have worked equally well as pure fiction. Should we be tinkering with the past for a generation of children more likely to watch movies than to read history books? Voices of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd and Angela Lansbury. Produced and directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. Written by Eric Tuchman and Susan Gauthier & Bruce Graham. A Fox release. Animated. Rated G. Running time: 94 min
Tags: animated, fairy tale, Russia, amnesia, orphanage, princess, curse, period piece, Christopher Lloyd, Kirsten Dunst, Angela Lansbury, John Cusack, Hank Azaria, Kelsey Grammer, Meg Ryan, Don Bluth, Gary Goldman

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