Tinker Bell (2008)

Rated: G
Length: 78 min
Age: 3+               Commonsense Media sez: 4+

Scary factor: Biggest scare is a brief scene with a hawk; the fairies flee in terror and hide. The hawk has Vidia cornered briefly but she escapes. Two stampedes of Sprinting Thistles are momentarily alarming, but the plants are more of a nuisance than a directed threat.

Intense scenes: the aftermath of the second thistle stampede, in which Tinker Bell has inadvertently destroyed all the work of the entire fairy community, could be emotionally intense for some – along the lines of “she’s in so much trouble!!!”, but things are soon set right again.

Another brief gag: a squirrel is hit in the head with a nut, and bursts into tears. Done for humour, and happens very quickly.

Warning: Excessive Merchandise Alert!

Interests: fairies, magic, nature, seasons, spring

Go to review for 2nd Tinker Bell film – Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.

This movie shows how Tinker Bell was born (created when a baby laughs for the first time – a J.M. Barrie conceit) and how she first came to Pixie Hollow. In a solemn ceremony she finds out what her particular ‘talent’ is, and joins the Tinker Fairies. She has an obvious genius for this work, but tries desperately to change jobs when she finds out that tinkers aren’t allowed to accompany the other fairies when they bring spring to the Mainland (the world of people/London). After various humorous failures trying to do other jobs, Tinker Bell is conned by a spiteful fairy named Vidia into attempting an impossible task and in the process accidentally destroys all the preparations for spring that the others have been working on so diligently. Realizing where her strength really lies, Tinker Bell finds a new pride in her work. She puts her best inventions to work and rallies everyone to save spring. As a reward for her efforts, Queen Clarion allows Tinker Bell to go along with them to the mainland for the spectacular change of season.

The Disney behemoth has resurrected one of their favourite icons, the buxom little sexpot Tinker Bell, and placed her at the head of a whole new franchise: Disney Fairies. This is the latest push to make money on fairies, having milked the whole Princess Phenomenon to exhaustion. (If you have a little girl, you know what I mean. Disney OWNS princesses!) You can tell they are in it for the long haul because they’ve engineered a posse of ethnically-diverse friends for Tinker Bell (read: merchandising spinoffs).

And although there is nothing sexual in the movies, situation-wise, in traditional Disney style these tiny gals are always pretty skimpily clad in form-fitting outfits, and are usually posing rather coyly in all the consumer products.

Okay, now that my cynicism is taken care of, here’s the good news: these movies are really beautiful things. Visually stunning, total candy for those inclined to believe in faerie-folk. High production values married to gorgeous design work. And so far (with the first three titles) the films are refreshingly free of the Disney traits I really dislike in other recent films: vertiginous camera swooping, smart-ass sidekicks, overbearing movie star cameos, incessant pop culture references, jarring Idol-style pop tunes, and Truly Terrifying Jeopardy. (More on all that elsewhere.) Instead, these films are rather gentle, suitable for 3-year-olds and up. The characters are sweet (except for the one requisite ‘snooty girl’) and simple. And they do truly marvellous things. The fairies are always hard at work managing nature: changing the seasons, distributing dew droplets, looking after animals and birds, creating rainbows, etc. etc.

The series of Tinker Bell films act as prequels to the Peter Pan story, with a cameo from a younger Wendy in this, the first one. So perhaps we will move eventually to a CGI Peter Pan remake?

Long story short, I enjoy the new Tinker Bell movies a lot more than I thought I would. And my daughter is totally entranced with them, willing to give up being a princess if only she can be a water fairy like Silvermist. The two biggest difficulties resulting from this switch will be resisting the inevitable avalanche of Disney merchandise that will ensue, and dealing with her disappointment when she spends all summer trying, trying, trying to see a real fairy. Oh, maybe I needn’t worry. She might actually see one.

Delivers a nice message about taking pride in who you are, but also about determination, perseverance, and working as a team. Very mild in the scary department, and full of beautiful details about fairy life that anyone interested in fairies will LOVE.

The character of Tinker Bell has been developed quite well. In Peter Pan she was rather one note; she made tinkling sounds instead of speaking, was so fond of Peter she despised any girl he liked, and had a hot temper. In this incarnation she retains her hot temper, and her penchant for turning bright red when enraged, but is kinder to everyone, even eager-to-please. Also, she takes on the least glamorous work in Pixie Hollow, as a Tinker Fairy. Wielding her tiny hammer, she’s a blue collar fairy! It’s nice to see a female role model who works in the trades, invents, designs, and engineers real tools and machines for the other fairies to use.

There is only one brief moment of threat, in which a hawk chases the fairies, obviously intending to catch and eat them. The fairies flee and hide, but Vidia is momentarily cornered. She escapes when the other fairies gather and pelt the bird with berries. It shouldn’t be too alarming for most, as it happens very quickly, and isn’t a huge, climax-scene kind of peril.

The only thing I didn’t much like about the hawk scene, is that after her brush with death Vidia gets nothing but attitude from her rescuers – “Are you okay, Vidia?” with a smirk, since she’s splattered with berry juice and she storms off in an embarrassed fury. Vidia is a stereotypical ‘bitchy girl’ and therefore seems sentenced to be treated with derision by everyone. She gets her comeuppance in the end from Queen Clarion.  (Happily Vidia is given more depth in the third movie, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, as she softens a bit and becomes friends with Tinker Bell.)

In conclusion… Gentle, largely inoffensive, and beautiful to look at. A must for fairy fans and great for young viewers.

Go to review for 2nd Tinker Bell film – Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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