The Wind in the Willows
Directed by Terry Jones
Starring Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Steve Googan, Anthony Sher
The bucolic, anthropomorphic world of Ratty (Eric Idle) and Mole (Steve Googan) shatters as the evil capitalists in the Weasel Development Corporation, LTD launch a hostile takeover of Mr. Toad’s estate. Toad Meadow has already gone up the pipe to supply the area with a much needed dog food plant, and venerable Toad Hall is likely to go next, as the oily weasels plan to build something REALLY BIG, and ugly, too. If only obsessive/compulsive Toad (Jones) would lay off the motor cars, acknowledge his heritage, and join the National Trust. Irascible Mr. Badger (Nicol Williamson) takes the lead, and with great effort, Mr. Toad’s friends bring him around and save the day.
With 5 Pythons (Cleese and Palin play supporting roles) and a number of other Brit humor luminaries, this is the closest thing to a full Monty reunion we are likely to see this century. With tons of sight gags, an operetta’s worth of silly songs, and clever but not overwhelming special effects, Wind in the Willows isn’t TOO close to the Kevin Grahame original, but is a far cut above any recent kid oriented films. Filming England’s countryside in the best light possible, charming settings and charming characters keep this story in my personal top 10 memories of childhood.