The story takes place in a fantasy medieval setting and starts with a young thief named Phillippe the Mouse escaping from an inescapable prison through its sewers. Said prison and the lands around it are controlled by a Corrupt Church led by a Bishop who is none too pleased to hear of Phillipe's escape (the prison is supposed to be inescapable, after all). The Bishop sends his soldiers out to kill Phillipe, but just as they catch up with him Phillippe is rescued by the mysterious Navarre, who is accompanied everywhere by his Cool Horse and hawk.Navarre turns out to have been the former Captain of the Bishop's guards, and he has a score of his own to settle with the Bishop. See, the Bishop was lusting mightily over a young woman named Isabeau, but Navarre and Isabeau fell in love and when it looked like they would escape the Bishop, he cursed them so that by day Navarre would be human and Isabeau a hawk, while by night Isabeau would be human, and Navarre a wolf. As a result, while the two lovers may be together, they are always separated. Now Navarre is looking to get revenge, and to use Phillippe's knowledge of the sewers that lead into the Bishop's fortress to his advantage.The film contains a number of both veteran actors (such as John Wood, Rutger Hauer, and Leo McKern) and young actors who would go on to become household names (Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer).
Animal Eyes: Used in the lovers' face-to-face transformation scene.
Animal Stereotypes: The guy who turns into a wolf is a fierce, loyal badass who can be absolutely vicious when riled up, and the guy called "the Mouse" is a cowardly Action Survivor thief who prefers to hide and be sneaky whenever possible. Isabeau is fairly fierce and graceful herself. It's also observed in The Movie that hawks and wolves mate for life (though notwith each other, of course) signifying the couple's enduring faithfulness.
Artistic License - Astronomy: There is a scene under a full moon. Two days later, there is what seems to be a solar eclipse (which requires a new moon).
Artistic License - Religion: A minor one that just requires a Hand Wave to fix — Imperius is described as a monk. A monk has not taken Holy Orders and thus cannot take confessions — he would need to be a priest to be able to hear confession and give absolution. (It is possible to be both a monk and a priest but you would be more likely to refer to yourself as a priest in the same way that someone with credentials as both a paralegal and a lawyer would probably not mention the paralegal part). The handwave: Imperius may have been a priest in the backstory then renounced his priestly vows after his crime of betraying secrets of the confessional.
The Atoner: Imperius, the monk who helps Navarre and Isabeau. He feels at responsible for their curse because he accidentally revealed their love to the Bishop.
Badass in Distress: Navarre is surprisingly vulnerable in wolf form, having nearly fallen prey to a hunter, nearly drowned in an icy lake after falling through thin ice, and was nearly stabbed by a random guard for fun.
Imperius: Thank you for trying, and for standing up for the truth.
Phillipe: I should have known better. Every moment of happiness in my life has come from lying.
Phillipe: I told the truth, Lord! How can I learn any moral lessons when you keep confusing me this way?
At the end of Phillipe's and Isabeau's near-capture at the monastery:
Guard: Where's the woman?
Phillipe: She flew away.
Guard: WHERE IS SHE?
Phillipe: God's truth, she flew away!
Guard: YOU L-AAAGH!!! (Guard is shot by Navarre and falls.)
Phillipe: (beat)... It pays to tell the truth, Lord. Thank you. I see that now.
Celestial Deadline: A couple is cursed so that she's a hawk by day and human by night, and he is human by day and a wolf by night. They only get to see each other in the moments of sunrise and sunset, until saved by Rules Lawyering.
Navarre: This sword has been in my family for five generations. It has never known defeat, until now.
Corrupt Church: In the movie it shows that the entire region of Aquila in the Middle Ages is ruled by this trope. Unusually, the movie averts the trope's implicit Take That qualities in that the protagonists are all depicted as genuinely faithful and God-fearing.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Phillipe regularly directly addresses God (but effectively the audience) as his personal confidante. None of the other characters notice, but he does go out of his way to put distance between himself and the other characters before talking to the camera.
Phillippe (to Navarre): No offense, sir, but I talk to God all the time, and He never mentioned you.
Magic Pants: There seems to be little consistency as to whether or not clothes transform. Both are naked on resuming human form so it could be argued that there is just no need to see an empty dress falling off a little hawk.
The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: According to Imperius's description of the curse, neither Navarre or Isabeau are aware of their human selves while in animal form; Navarre in particular is quite vicious.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Though it saved Navarre, the only reason Isabeau was shot was because Phillipe threw a rock at the guard, causing him to accidentally fire into the air.
Novelization: A novel was published based on the film, which included screenshots from the film illustrating scenes and an alternate ending where, once the curse is broken, the Bishop is turned into a wolf as punishment.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Matthew Broderick does an alright job for the first 15 minutes, then we're basically just watching Ferris Bueller swanning about Medieval France.
What the Hell, Hero?: At one point, Navarre flips out at Philippe for supposedly losing his sword. He gets called out first by Mouse, who tells him he's being selfish with his fixation on revenge, but doesn't really snap out of it until he sees the cuts all over Philippe's chest— which he inflicted, in wolf form, when Philippe saved his life.
Yandere: The Bishop. He puts a cruel curse on the two lovers so they can never see each other. All because the woman doesn't want him.