9/10
A little animated gem from Croatia
5 August 2015
As someone who very much likes the show, this viewer found the film to be even better, both sparking interest in seeing more of Croatia's animation. Lapitch the Little Shoemaker mayn't be one of the best animated films ever made, but it is a great little gem and well worth the time if able to track down.

The animation is beautifully done, wisely keeping it simple but never too safe or over-simple. The drawing is of smoother quality than those of the show (which still is of good quality visually), it's bright and colourful with some suitably dark atmospheric moments, the backgrounds are very detailed and rich in colour, atmosphere and quaint charm and some moments of outstanding imagination (like in the Dirty Rat musical number). There is some great music here too, the incidental music is whimsical, lively and sometimes haunting and the songs are really quite good, with the tender Take My Hand, the catchy Shoe Song and the rousing Farmers and Friends Forever. The best though is Dirty Rat's song, melodically it is both fun and sinister and coupled with some truly imaginative and wonderfully surreal visuals and characterful vocals, it is one of the better non-Disney animated villain songs to me.

Lapitch the Little Shoemaker is very well written as well, not afraid to bring depth while also respecting its main target audience. It's immensely charming, entertaining and inspiring, with the humorous moments being well-judged and actually funny rather than dumb or juvenile and there are some valuable lessons and good ideas that the film shows without being heavy-handed at all. Some parts, like with Dirty Rat, are also dark, without being too frightening, Lapitch and Lisa's relationship is portrayed very charmingly here helped by that the two characters are also both likable, and the Scowlers' back story brings depth and poignancy to the film. The story is very well-thought out and eventful, while never feeling that the film is too rushed or stretched, it also tries to break away from any formulas which is admirable and doesn't feel convoluted or muddled at all.

The characters are really engaging, Lapitch and Lisa are very easy to like, Brewster and Pico are amusing and sympathetic, the Scowlers are written well enough for their backstory to resonate to the extent that Master Scowler's initial attitude towards Lapitch is understandable and Dirty Rat is such an enjoyable villain and has some genuine menace. Melvin is quite well-rounded too. The voice work is very good, especially for that of Lapitch and Dirty Rat. My only small complaint actually is the little too convenient climax with Dirty Rat's defeat feeling too easy.

Overall though, a great little gem, and while the show is seldom seen and was short-lived (with not as much depth as the film present) it is also good, just as charming, entertaining and inspiring and goes perfectly with the film it's spun off from. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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