Postman Pat: The Movie Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
There are probably a few films out this year that you anticipated – be it the webslinger’s return in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 or forthcoming summer blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy – but for me, it was always Postman Pat: The Movie. The beaky, humble postal worker’s eponymous TV series was a core part of my upbringing and I was intrigued to see how the stop-motion quaintness of the original would transfer to a world of colourful 3D epics in the cinema.
Essentially, it works. Postman Pat: The Movie does not stumble all that often (watch out for an excellent extended opening shot) and the beloved postie has survived the great leap from twee Greendale and into a world populated by corporate behemoths such as Rio 2 and The LEGO Movie (the former disappointing, the latter incredible – but still two films fine-tuned to within an inch of their lives by company giants). Still, there are problems visible, namely, the animation, which is considerably inferior to the aforementioned big-budget features. Stare too closely and the cracks start to appear: supposedly packed crowds are clearly a little assembly and the camera is so concentrated on Pat and co. that it feels like there is nothing outside the world of Postman Pat: The Movie.
In terms of plot, Postman Pat: The Movie is fairly standard but not without a certain old-school charm. Pat, angling for a bonus, intends on taking his partner, Sara (if you are, too, surprised at discovering Pat has a wife – and a son – then we’re on the same boat) on an overdue honeymoon to Italy. However, his plans are baulked when the nefarious Carbunkle (played by Edward Woodward) swoops in and replaces the post office workforce (while Pat’s van displays the Royal Mail logo, his employers are the fictional SDS for some unknown reason) with robots. This is a part of Carbunkle’s vague plan to take over the world (starting from the lucrative postal industry, naturally) and his motives are certainly hazy.
After seeing that the grand prize in a Britain’s Got Talent parody show, You’re the One (a lampoon of the talent competition industry seems a little old in 2014) is a trip to Italy Pat enters. His talent is singing – here Ronan Keating lends his warbling tones in a ham-fisted transition from Mangan to Keating – and he belts out a tune much to the delight of everyone. Overnight Pat becomes a superstar and he is swiftly whisked off to London, losing sight of everything and everyone he holds dear.
Stephen Mangan does a fine job as Pat, all respectable form and good manners (“That’ll need some tidying” he remarks, concerned, after a pyramid of robots hell-bent on his demise collapses) but the supporting, rather stellar cast of Rupert Grint and Jim Broadbent are underutilised. David Tennant puts in an excellent turn as an oafish showbiz manager, clearly having the time of his life behind the microphone.
Postman Pat: The Movie’s real strong point is its delicious postmodern humour and biting satire. While a lot of this may fly clean over the head of a four year-old, older members of the audience can pick up the references and sly in-jokes (the reveal of Pat merchandise including a meta nudge at the old TV series is hilarious as is a short film showing the try-out of Carbunkle’s robots). The gimlet-eyed, bloodshot stares of the ‘Patbots’ (deployed to supersede the postie when he’s living life as a celebrity) are sinister but definitely not the most terrifying thing to stalk a U-certificated film. There have been complaints that it’s a miscalculation by the makers, that you would never see deadly androids marching around the streets of Greendale in a classic episode, but the original format of Postman Pat is unsustainable in cinemas (the average plot of an old episode consisted of Pat pursuing an errant kite or the fallout of a particularly blustery day in the village; but a few examples) and, of course, it needs to up the ante to combat other animations.
Postman Pat: The Movie is harmless enough and exactly what you would expect but with more roguish gags for the grown-ups. It’s a determined attempt at reviving such a classic character and translating him well on to the big screen. The animation might be spotty in places and some of the surprisingly A-list cast are squandered but you can do a lot worse than nipping along to see this. For once the poster was right; Postman Pat: The Movie does deliver the goods.