I finally got the chance to see The Thief and the Cobbler
(version 4 of the "Recobbled Cut"), to satiate my curiosity over this legend of animation. And, indeed, it is a tragedy that the movie was never completed — it is a richly animated thing of beauty, an unforgettable work of art that truly earns the A-word, where Richard Williams
' love and sacrifice
is evident in every scene, every step, and every gesture.
Unfortunately, for all the attention placed on the art, there's almost none placed into the story and the characters. Taken as a whole, Cobbler
is a 90-minute Excuse Plot
to take the viewer from one lavish scene to the next.
Consider Tack the Cobbler, who is now my go-to example of a Pinball Protagonist
— for the first two-thirds of the movie, he's largely dragged around by other characters from one situation to the next. What little action he takes feels largely perfunctory, and he ends up being a Generic Guy
— which makes his abrupt bout of (off-screen) heroism in the climax feel like an unexpected Ass Pull
The other characters fare little better, most of whom are generic stereotypes with a single additional trait. King Nod is an ineffectual Sleepy Head
with a touch of Papa Wolf
, Princess YumYum is the Only Sane Woman
who doesn't do anything beyond giving an infatuation excuse
to drag Tack to the next scene, ZigZag is an Evil Chancellor
who's simply evil For the Evulz
, and Mighty One-Eye is a Paper Tiger
whose mighty army is felled by the most beautifully animated set of Disaster Dominoes
ever seen. The unnamed Thief is the closest person this movie has to an actual character, but even then he's simply a Cute Mute
in the vein of Harpo Marx
or The Tramp,
who is destined to remain a Butt Monkey
just to get him into another beautifully-animated escapade.
Don't get me wrong, this is a movie that's worth watching if you have even a modicum of interest in animated art or moviemaking. Just be prepared for what it is, a long string of truly lovely scenes, jaw-dropping animation, subtle slapstick, and a hackneyed Excuse Plot
with vapid characters.