All the Little Animals

The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Jeremy Thomas

REVIEWED: 10-18-99

The moral(s) of this English story: the meek shall overcome the strong; it's the little things that count; all you need is love. A long-ago car accident has left 24-year-old Bobby (Christian Bale) with the mind of a young boy and a deep-seated love for animals. When Bobby's mother dies, his evil stepfather (played by Daniel Benzali as a cross between Darth Vader and Daddy Warbucks) plans to send him to a home, so Bobby runs away, hitchhiking from London to Norfolk. He gets a lift in a truck, but when a fox runs out into the road, he grabs the steering wheel, the truck flips over, and the truck driver is killed.

Enter John Hurt as a man obsessed with saving small animals; he and Bobby become friends and partners, and when Bobby's stepfather tries to destroy them both, the fate of those who harm little animals becomes all too clear. Despite its in-your-face approach, Jeremy Thomas's film is a comfortingly gentle call to respect life, as well as a charming peek into the mind of a boy who has been too little for too long.

--Jumana Farouky

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