Hello Kitty Becomes a Princess Review
With kids, I've realised that it's very easy to see if they actually enjoy a film or television show. Of course, never do anything as obvious as to ask them and expect an honest answer - children lose the knack of telling the truth a matter of months after they learn to speak - instead, simply watch them whilst they watch television.
Through this, I know that despite their length, my kids love Studio Ghibli films as they do any Disney or Pixar. However, whilst they loved Shrek, they left Shrek 2 halfway through and Shark Tale, despite the glitzy animation kept them occupied for, oh, no more than twenty minutes. I'd ask Dreamworks, "Really, who makes Godfather pastiches for the under-sevens? What next, Last Tiger In Paris, in which our plucky, striped hero searches Pigalle with nothing but his tigerish charms, a cunning bit of hip-hop and a tub of butter?" If Sir Mixalot is busy, get Will Smith, naturally.
As for Hello Kitty Becomes A Princess, despite the protests of, "No, no...we love it!", I don't actually think it was a hit. Similar to Hello Kitty Goes To The Movies, which placed Hello Kitty within The Wizard Of Oz, Star Wars and Jaws - again, how many under-fives have seen Jaws? - this release includes fives shorts, all of which are about the ten-minute mark, in which Hello Kitty becomes a princess within a well-known fairytale.
Similar to the way in which Disney has created the Princess brand from Cinderella, Beauty And The Beast, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, Hello Kitty Becomes A Princess features the little kitten in Cinderkitty, Kitty Locks And The Three Bears, Sleeping Kitty, Kitty And The Beast and Snow White Kitty And The One Dwarf. With titles like those, forgive me if I fail to outline the plots further but the makers of the original series from which these five episodes are taken - 1987's Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater [sic] - have mixed the original fairy tale with any relevant updates from the filmed Disney versions and some pop culture references from the time to produce something that is all their own but rarely satisfying. In Snow White Kitty, for example, the story is closer to the original Brothers Grimm fairytale but Hello Kitty wears the dress made famous by the 1937 film. The paucity of characters, reducing the seven dwarves to one, is, however, entirely the creation the makers of Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater.
Tying everything together is the Furry Tale Theater itself but as these five episodes have been pulled out of a full series without any explanation, the audience is left to work out for itself why Hello Kitty is both an actress in a theatre and then a princess. Whilst I had little trouble with the alternate realities of a Hello Kitty DVD, those under-fives who have been starved of the likes of Rashomon, Hero or Last Year At Marienbad, may find the plot a little hard-going.
As Kevin Gilvear pointed out in his review of Hello Kitty Goes To The Movies, however, the varied roles for Hello Kitty will not be the toughest test for this DVD's intended audience. For some odd reason, possibly the same misguided notion that convinced the makers of Shrek 2 that a Cops parody was necessary, the writers for these shows have taken to twisting all of the English dialogue into a continuous series of puns, all of which are somewhat related to cats, kittens or fur. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the minds of children exposed to this sort of nonsense haemorrhaged blood at the brain-twisting difficulty of all those puns, similar to the news some years ago that Pikachu was giving Japanese kids epileptic fits with his flashing eyes. Add to this an unnatural rhythm in the dialogue born of short Japanese sentences being translated into longer English phrases with correspondingly hurried readings and the whole thing is largely a mess.
Hello Kitty Becomes A Princess is not entirely without merit, however, as Tara Charendoff (also known as Tara Strong, who would later voice Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls and Dil Pickles in the Rugrats films) is good as the voice of Hello Kitty and there is the occasional sweet moment between Hello Kitty and Chip, the penguin who is called upon to save Hello Kitty. But being honest, I felt that my kids were bored by Hello Kitty and at three and five, they're about the right age for it. Based on these five episodes, Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater is the kind of television show that adults feel will make great television for children but that, quite obviously, kids don't like. Sometimes they get it right - the episode of The Powerpuff Girls that revealed broccoli as really being vicious aliens from outer space seemed only to confirm children's fears about the nasty green vegetable - but this, this is as good a show as that movie about a fish that looks like Martin Scorsese, riffing lines from a gangster film. The Codfather, was it?
The animation is rotten, the transfer is rotten and the sound is...well, alright actually. I would say that anything bigger than a 14" screen and the faults in the transfer will be obvious with the colours looking washed out - and often changing from frame to frame - and a transfer so soft that you could sleep in it being the worst of Hello Kitty Becomes A Princess. Again, children are not stupid nor are they blind and giving them something like this to view is insulting.
As for the soundtrack, there is a choice of English or French 2.0 Mono audio tracks and whilst there is some hiss, it's not unbearable.
There are no extras on this DVD release.
Taking this series of DVD's love of puns to its logical conclusion, I suggest that, from this point on, this series of DVD releases from MGM should be titled Hello Shitty..., which I admit, fails the pun test somewhat as there's no mention of fur, purring, cats or kittens but is, I feel, more representative of the finished product.
Having now put this away from where they can see it, I don't think that my children will be asking for this again. At least, not when they could do ask for Spirited Away, Toy Story, Kiki's Delivery Service, The Lion King or, indeed, any other truly wonderful children's film. And it's not as though they dislike Hello Kitty as my five-year-old daughter is very aware of how cute the character is, it's just that there's better out there, much better.
Last updated: 13/06/2018 14:40:30