Valiant

Rated G 2005

Carrier pigeons were vital to the British during the Second World War, flying messages across the English Channel for troops fighting behind enemy lines. Disney's latest computer-animated film concerns a young pigeon named Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) who volunteers for the Royal Homing Pigeon Service and, despite his small size, becomes a hero. While British kids grew up listening to stories about the London Blitz and the hardships their parents and grandparents endured, American children would be hard-pressed to tell you what nations fought on which side. Given that, it's unlikely they'll understand -- much less relate to -- this film. The voice acting is adequate, but it fails to convey the diversity or personality of Chicken Run or Shrek. The backstory is far more interesting: 54 British animals -- 32 pigeons, 18 dogs, 3 horses, and a cat -- were awarded medals for "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty" during the war. If only they'd all been featured here.

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