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Ugly Duckling and Me, The


Stars: Voices: Morgan C Jones, Justin Gregg, Kim Larney, Anna Olson, Aileen Mythen

Director: Michael Hegner, Karsten Kiilerich

What is it about rats in children's films? Following Templeton in Charlotte's Web, Roddy in Flushed Away and Remy in Ratatouille, here comes Ratso, by far the best (and best CGI-drawn) character in this patchily entertaining cartoon tale.

He's a fairground carny (and rat, of course), currently driving away audiences by his double-act with a worm (an annoying character who fortunately disappears for much of the film). Hotly pursued by his ex and her two bully brothers, Ratso somehow ends up with an egg that turns into the Ugly Duckling of Hans Christian Andersen fame.

There are a few choice lines - 'By the time they find out they're beautiful,' says Ratso of women, 'they've wasted their time on hand cream and early nights' - and moments: as Ratso trudges seemingly to his doom at the end, a spectator cries sonorously: 'Dead rat walking!' But most of the dialogue (and animation) is clumsy and uninteresting, and kids would be well advised to wait for the DVD and a rainy afternoon.

Things seem about to get more interesting when Ratso and Ugly are swallowed by a giant fish, but then it spits them out again. This probably isn't the place to discuss why the female ducks in the story have breasts and the chickens don't, but I'll mention it anyway.

David Quinlan

Denmark/Ireland 2006. UK Distributor: Verve (New Line). Colour.
88 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 02 Feb 2008