.: Reviews :.
|Original name||Andre the seal|
|US Release Date||8/17/94|
|Genre||Family / Adventure|
|Directed by||George Miller|
Based on a "true" story. See the Andre monument here (located in Rockport Harbor/Maine)
You can buy the Book "Andre" written by Lew Dietz, illustrated by Stell Shevis here
Dogs have always been man's best friend and, as such, it's only fitting that a sizable number of movies have had their foundation laid in this popular human/pet relationship. How else is it possible to explain the countless incarnations of Lassie and Benji? Every once in a while, however, filmmakers decide to throw a bone to the other creatures of this planet -- cats (one of three stories in Homeward Bound), horses (Black Beauty), whales (Free Willy), and now -- with the arrival of Andre -- seals. Really, Andre isn't much more than Lassie with flippers. He does a lot of the same cute antics, and, of course, is ready to come to the rescue when his foolish human friends need help. Some might argue that there's a little more to this film than that, but all of the peripheral stuff is only so much excess baggage. It's developed and presented with minimal flair. The closest Andre gets to real drama is a couple of smarmy scenes that preach the need for tolerance. The film opens, as we're told by narrator Annette O'Toole, in Rockport, Maine during the spring of 1962. Harry Whitney (Keith Carradine) is the local harbormaster, and, on one of his rounds, he discovers a sick seal. Much to the delight of his daughter Toni (Tina Majorino), he brings the pup home to care for it, braving the ire of local fisherman Billy Baker (Keith Szarabajka), who blames seals for the season's poor catches. The return to health is a slow process, but eventually the seal - - named Andre by Toni -- is ready to return to its natural habitat. When that day arrives, the nine year old girl is heartbroken -- but Andre still has a surprise or two in store for her. Considering Andre as light family entertainment is the only way to form a satisfying opinion of the movie. On a strictly clinical level, it really isn't very good -- the cliche-riddled plot is hopelessly predictable, the characters are broadly realized, and the acting is merely serviceable. However, this, much like Free Willy, is the kind of movie that kids enjoy. It moves with enough snap not to threaten boredom, and there aren't many deep meanings for children to furrow their brows over. The villains are suitably nasty, the heroes are nicely heroic and, of course, the seal is cute and funny. Also, Andre has a couple of none-too-subtle messages that everyone will understand. Tina Majorino is a busy young actress -- this is her third film of the year (in addition to When a Man Loves a Woman and Corrina, Corrina). She's an appealing performer who shows promise, but she still has some rough edges to file down. When she smiles, she lights up the screen, but her expressions of sadness and grief are less overwhelming. Nevertheless, she's considerably more credible than many actors of her age. Those with children can feel confident that Andre will present an enjoyable ninety-six minutes for their offspring. There's a lot of saccharine here -- perhaps too much for the "intellectual" movie-goer. Andre will appeal most strongly to the under-thirteen crowd, or at least to those who are of that age in heart, if not in body.
© 1994 James Berardinelli