Voices: Aaron Metchik, Michael York, Christa Larson, John Rhys-Davies, Robert Ito, Anthony-Cirroc Lofton, Russi Taylor, Anndi McAfee, Ronie Dante, Craig Copeland, Leeza McGee, Susan Stevens.
McDonald’s does its part to encourage kids and parents to read together by underwriting this appealing, catchy adaptation of the excellent Robin Muller book “The Magic Paintbrush.”
It’s the story of a boy, Nib, who acquires an enchanted paintbrush with which he grants life to any object he chooses to illustrate.
But the mystical gift brings Nib more heartache than fulfillment until he learns to paint what he sees with his heart rather than simply what he sees with his eyes. Thus Nib is able to dispose of the magic paintbrush and resolve the troubles it had brought him.
The Marvel Prods./American Film Technologies animation is distinctive and innovative, and the story is involving enough to entertain younger kids. If some of them then seek out the book itself, all the better.
In classic Hollywood tradition, the source material is tinkered with extensively, as may well have been necessary to attract and hold a satisfactory network audience.
But as nice as the adaptation is, the Muller book is that much more effective. More narration lifted directly from the original would have gone a long way toward preserving the book’s rich texture and clearer message.
Three Ronald McDonald bumpers are included to promote the value of reading, and though the bumpers will feel like Saturday-a.m. McDonald’s commercials to much of the toddler audience, the intent remains worthwhile.
Voice work under the direction of Tom Tataranowicz is good. Music by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn slows things down for older viewers but should prove catchy with many moppet viewers.