The Wind In The Willows

on October 31, 1997 by Dale Winogura
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   A cute idea is decimated by a mishandled combination of lowbrow farce and sophisticated humor in a strained, leaden lump of tasteless whimsy. The promising notion of turning Kenneth Grahame's classic 1908 children's fable into a Monty Pythonesque comedy collapses due to the cutesy tone and labored development of Terry Jones' screenplay.
   Although his direction has a distinctive stylistic vision, handsomely visualized, the intended charm and lightness are bludgeoned into terminal infantilism and inane condescension.
   The slight but endearing tale of the irrepressible Mr. Toad's (played by Jones at his obnoxious worst) dangerous love of fast cars and his relationship with the other local animals has been inflated with statements on greedy capitalism that the script's flimsy structure can't support. The actors miss the simple wonder and beauty of Grahame's creations, notably Eric Idle as Rat and Steve Coogan as Mole. Only Nicol Williamson's Badger comes close to achieving his character's essential delicacy and warmth.    Starring Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Nicol Williamson. Directed and written by Terry Jones. Produced by John Goldstone and Jake Eberts. A Columbia release. Comedy. Rated PG. Running time: 86 min.
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