The Wind in the Willows | Chicago Reader

The Wind in the Willows

A fine mess. Terry Jones (Monty Python?s Life of Brian, Monty Python?s the Meaning of Life) aims to delight with this 1996 adaptation of the classic children's book, but the film has too much shtick and too little narrative rhythm: Kenneth Grahame's picaresque story of idyllic agrarianism threatened by the winds of change becomes a series of slapstick routines and over-the-top car crashes. Mole, Rat, Badger, and Mr. Toad, whose cozy little world is invaded by a cabal of greedy weasels, are endearingly eccentric, and their romps have the surreal zaniness of a Python sketch—not surprising given the fact that Rat is played by a whiskered Eric Idle and Jones plays the hedonistic, car-crazy Mr. Toad. But the hilarity seems forced, like a costume party thrown by adults who are uneasy with their own notion of childish fun. The film?s best joke, recalling the Pythons? subversiveness, will be too sly for younger viewers: Grahame's conservative ideology is turned on its head as the proletarian weasels of the book become overzealous Thatcherites. With Nicol Williamson and Anthony Sher.

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