Miss Hunt: Come on now. They're just stories. You know...for children? Don't suppose you have family yourself?
The Wolf: Well had. I had two nephews, Rolf and Rex.
Miss Hunt: Had? Why, what happened?
The Wolf: Well, since you asked. Once upon a time...
Revolting Rhymes is a 2016 BBC animated short film (28 minutes) based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name released in 2016. Animated by Magic Light Pictures and narrated by Dominic West, it was released in two parts and retells five of the original book's six poems in a single interweaving story.
Our story begins on a rainy night in a small cafe. A wolf enters and asks to sit with the lone customer for some polite conversation. Initially wary, the woman is soon put at ease by his demeanour. Once they begin talking, Miss Hunt reveals she is killing some time before babysitting and the Wolf takes notice of the fairy tales book she's brought with her for the children. He takes issue with the liberties the book has taken with the source material and their sappy happy endings. When Miss Hunt points out the stories are just for children, she inadvertently learns the Wolf had lost two of his own nephews and at her request he begins to explain how.
The Wolf's story and his narration serve as a Framing Device to the five poems being adapted. The first half of tales are directly tied to him due to the fate of his nephews. The second half of tales are not tied to the Wolf personally but he does share a connection to his audience. Whom he intends to eat to avenge his nephews and punish Red Riding Hood.
Part 1 interweaves the stories of Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Three Little Pigs; it was nominated for an Academy Award for animated short film. Part 2 tackles Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, and includes the resolution to the Framing Device.
- Abusive Parents: Jack is physically and mentally abused by his mother on a regularly basis. When Jack returns home with a magic bean, instead of money for their old cow, Wolf states he was beaten non-stop for half an hour. Cindy also suffers at the hands of her family, reduced to being a slave. Snow White has a distant father more interested in partying that being in his daughter's life and her step-mother tries to murder her for being more pretty.
- Adaptation Dye-Job:
Wolf: And Snow White, she's actually a blonde.
- Revolting Rhymes art depicted Snow White as a blonde instead of the traditional ebony, which this adaptation retains. Wolf even discusses this, expressing annoyance the fairy tale book doesn't give Snow the right hair colour.
Miss Hunt: Uh..sorry...
- This is a bit of a Genius Bonus; Snow White was a blonde in the Grimm Brothers' original manuscript.
- Red Riding Hood has dark hair, whereas her book counterpart is a redhead.
- Adaptation Expansion: The story creates new connections between the existing stand alone poems in the original book.
- The largest expansion of the source material is the two wolves from the Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs poems are now relatives named Rolf and Rex. Their uncle, the Wolf, is the narrator and his story is used as the Framing Device for the entire film.
- Red and Snow White are lifelong friends who met as children soon after Snow's mother died. There's even an indication of romantic involvement.
- Cindy and Jack are now neighbors. Jack also has a crush on Cindy, though she's uninterested due to a desire to marry someone rich to escape her current life.
- It's not stated directly but it is implied that the Prince Cinderella dances with is Snow White's half-brother, the son of her father and step-mother, and that Snow's theft of the magic mirror happens in the aftermath of the ball where he meets Cinderella, on the same night where Jack's magic bean turns into a stalk and (as indicated to a newspaper headline), Red confronts her second wolf at Porkley's bank.
- In terms of dialogue, new lines not included in the source material are added:
- Red's conversation with the Banker Pig after his investment in real estate went belly up (when Rex ate his two clients before it could take off properly) consists almost entirely of new lines. The Banker Pig's lines in this conversation on the other hand are based in part on the first two lines of Jack's mother from Jack's story.
- Cindy's story now includes the Fairy Godmother's warning of returning home before midnight, which was absent from the poem originally.
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: It is heavily implied that the Prince actually killed Cinderella, and the Wolf spontaneously came up with the happy ending where she ends up with Jack to save face. If that was the case, why did Wolf begin the story by saying Jack's story was important to Cinderella's, and combine them, in the first place?
- Adaptational Heroism: In the novel, Red Riding Hood turned out to be an Egomaniac Hunter who killed both wolves to take their hides, then does the same to the third pig, who was completely innocent. However in this tale, Red is an Unscrupulous Hero. She really did kill the first wolf to defend herself (she only had a gun because she picked it up from the Huntsman), and the second wolf to protect the pig (even though he lost her money). Then she kills the Pig because she discovers he's a greedy, selfish banker who has been screwing everyone else over. Taking their hides was just a (morbid) bonus.
- Adaptational Karma: The Prince in the novel never found his bride, but otherwise faced no repercussions for beheading two women that basically just annoyed him. Here, the Fairy Godmother turns him and his guards into frogs—although that part of the story was implied to be made up.
- Adaptational Villainy: The third pig in Revolting Rhymes was just trying to avoid being eaten by a wolf. Here, Pig is a Morally Bankrupt Banker whose house of bricks is his bank. He makes Red Riding Hood and other customers take the loss when the other pigs can't pay back their loans, on account of being eaten, even though he'd embezzled a private fortune. Which makes Red killing him a Kick the Son of a Bitch rather than a Kick the Dog moment.
- Adapted Out: The story of Goldilocks is the only tale missing of the original six poems from Revolting Rhymes. There is an easily missed newspaper headline stating that Goldilocks has been arrested. She was actually eaten by the bears for her antics in the original book.
- Adult Fear: Wolf experiences this when his nephews are young and he sternly keeps them in the safety of the woods. Later when they leave it as adults, they are killed. Wolf invokes this when Red discovers he has been with her children all night, and leaves her with the knowledge they're alive because he chose to spare them.
- All Myths Are True: The "fairy tales" book Miss Hunt tells stories from are apparently based on real life stories in this universe, some of which only took place a decade or less ago. Miss Hunt seems unaware that Red is actually the Red Riding Hood, likely due to the many liberties taken with the story at that point.
- Ambiguously Gay: Red and Snow's relationship may very well be romantic. Though by the second short, they don't appear to be living together, and Red has two children, so it might just be a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship.
- Anti-Villain: Wolf. Imagine you came upon a woman wearing your nephew as a coat and then boasting about it. Then learned this same person killed your other nephew at the request of a rich banker. A pig she then killed and robbed anyway. Lest we forget he stopped his young nephews trying to eat a young Red when she was a defenseless child. He spares Miss Hunt, stealing only her clothes, and ultimately cannot bring himself to actually take his vengeance upon Red's children. Though Wolf does let her know, he could have.
- Art Shift: The fairy tales are shown in a slightly more cartoonish art style than the frame story; most notably hair and fur are simply textured onto character models in the stories but fully rendered in the present.
- Barefoot Poverty: Due to being an abused slave, Cindy is always barefoot, except when the Fairy Godmother gives her her dress and when she marries Jack.
- Big Bad: Though Wolf is set up this way, the true Big Bad is the wealthy brother of the Three Pigs, a banker. He meets his end at the muzzle of Red's gun when she realizes that he robbed her.
- The Big Bad Wolf: Rex and Rolf serve this role in their respective stories. Wolf serves as this for the story as a whole. He's also bigger and smarter than both his nephews.
- Big Good: The Fairy Godmother. She gives Jack the magic bean in exchange for his cow and helps get Cindy to the ball. Though playing successful matchmaker for Jack and Cindy is her crowning achievement. She even helps out in a story she's not a part of, giving Snow White a lift back to the palace so she can steal the magic mirror.
- The Prince calls Cindy a "mutt", like the reprints of the book, not a "slut", like the original release.
- In-Universe, it's implied Cinderella was really killed by the prince and the wolf just made up the happy ending to appease the kids he was telling them to.
- Children Are Innocent: Unlike his sister, Red's son is too little to understand that a wolf showing up in place of his baby-sitter is something to fear. He's so cute and innocent that the Wolf can't bring himself to hurt either of the children.
- Composite Character: It turns out Jack's been combined with that humble marmalade maker who stole Cindy's heart at the end of her story.
- Death by Adaptation: It's heavily implied in this version that the Wolf made up the happy ending of Cinderella's story on the spot to appease Red's children, and that she was really decapitated on the spot. Would make sense, given that Jack, until then presented as a young Hopeless Suitor who had just gone full Rags to Riches, was instead presented as a humbly successful jam and marmalade salesman.
- Deus ex Machina: At the end of part 2, Cinderella is cornered by the prince and his men with no apparent escape when the fairy godmother shows up to save the day and give Cinderella a happily ever after. Given the way the girl complains to Wolf that the story was about to end badly, the abruptly happy ending is likely the Wolf making a new ending up on the spot.
- Disappeared Dad: Practically everyone, as befits a fairy tale.
- Jack lives with his mother without any mention of a father.
- Cindy lives with her stepsisters with no apparent father or stepmother.
- Snow's mother dies before start of the story, leaving just her fairly indifferent father.
- Red is a twofer. When we first see her she's a young girl living with her grandmother, and as an adult she has a pair of children of her own, but seemingly no husband.
- Even the wolves count, as Rex and Rolf are being raised by their uncle.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Wolf raised and protected his nephews, Rolf and Rex, until they were adults. They were the only family he had left. As much as they brought their fate upon themselves, Wolf is still visibly saddened by their loss years later. His whole motivation is apparently to avenge their deaths at Red's hands.
- Even Evil Has Standards: It turns out Wolf Wouldn't Hurt a Child after all.
- Greed: This is what does Rex and Rolf in. While they both manage to score easy kills, neither are satisfied with just that, and in trying to get more, they meet their ends instead.
- The Hedonist: Turns out Snow White's father spent most of his days drinking with pretty consorts, seemingly unaware or uncaring of Snow White's disappearance. When she's sneaking into the palace to steal the mirror, Snow's sad shake of the head when she happens across the aftermath of a wild night indicates it's not the first time she's seen him passed out after partying. Tellingly the king's reaction to his wife's funeral was being upset that he'd need to find a new queen.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Snow White and Red riding Hood are at the very least very close friends, if not something more.
- Interspecies Romance: After Red saves the banker pig from Rex, he decides to thank her by taking her to a back room and trying to seduce her with music and wine. Unfortunately for him, she finds out he stole her money and kills him for it.
- Lighter and Softer: A lot of the more gruesome parts are subject to Gory Discretion Shot, as is Jack's mother physically abusing him, and the step-sisters' decapitation is apparently non-fatal.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Wolf's nephew Rolf was always the most eager to leave the safety of the woods and go on the hunt for prey. Only his uncle's silent annoyance kept him from charging off as a youth. When Rolf and Rex reach adulthood the former walks off in search of food, ignoring his uncle's disapproving gaze, and the latter is smart enough to stay behind (at least for a while).
- Licked by the Dog: Red's son takes an instant liking to Wolf. It turns out the feeling becomes mutual.
- Little Red Fighting Hood: Red is very handy with a gun.
- Losing Your Head: Both ugly sisters end up chasing after their recently removed craniums like headless chickens. Whilst this softens the blow of the their brutal decapitations, there's no indication it's any less fatal than in the original books.
- Mugged for Disguise: The ending of the first half has the wolf tying up and gagging the babysitter and stealing her identity.
- Mugging the Monster: Rolf finds himself shot in the face when he thinks he's got himself an easy meal in little Red.
- Mythology Gag: The cover art for the original book, which was of course illustrated by Quentin Blake, features a large wolf salivating with two terrified children in his arms whilst reading Revolting Rhymes to them. This film runs with the concept as its own overarching plot with the Wolf acting as the narrator telling the various stories to Miss Hunt and later to Red's two children. Whom he intends to devour.
- Nemean Skinning: Red turns both Rolf and Rex into fur coats after killing them. She wears Rolf and gives Rex to Snow White. She also turns the banker pig into a traveling case.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Wolf actually stops his nephews from attacking Red as a child. It's strongly implied he keeps them from leaving their territory in the forest and attacking humans to avoid trouble. Red later kills both Rolf and Rex when they're all adults.
- Off with His Head!: Cindy discovers to her horror that her dream prince has a deranged fondness for cutting off heads. Although his victims, the evil step-sisters, aren't getting anywhere near as much sympathy from viewers as they do Cindy. She even calls the prince out on it but he doesn't recognize her and tries to have her head chopped off for slighting him.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Any time a wolf decides to dress as a human. Both instances happen to be female disguises. Though admittedly the outfit is really only meant to work from a distance and when someone's close enough to scrutinize, it's (usually) too late.
- Parental Substitute: Wolf looks out for the well being of his nephews when they are younger, keeping them away from the human territory and successfully raising them to adults. Notably when they are grown and free to choose their own path, they're not smart enough to heed his warnings into adulthood.
- Rags to Riches: Cindy attempts to invoke this trope by marrying the Prince to escape her life of servitude.
- Related in the Adaptation: Unconfirmed, but Cinderella's prince is heavily implied to be the son of Snow White's Wicked Stepmother.
- Revenge by Proxy: Wolf intends to commit some Eye for an Eye revenge to hurt Red.
- Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Somewhere between a 3 or 4.
- Spared by the Adaptation:
- It's easy to miss as Goldilocks only makes a Continuity Cameo, but a newspaper article reveals that she was tried, convicted and given a prison sentence for her crimes against the Bears, whereas in the poem she is eaten by them.
- Arguably the Ugly Sisters; they do still lose their heads, but are inexplicably still alive. Given the Framing Device, that could just a comic embellishment by the wolf.
- Unreliable Narrator: The wolf's recounting of the "real" story behind the fairy tales seems accurate for the most part (sometimes to the point of being an Infallible Narrator). However, it's implied he deliberately changes the end of Cindy's story.
- Wardrobe Malfunction: When the clocks strikes midnight, Cindy loses a shoe as she flees the scene just as in the classic telling of her story. Before that however, as Cindy makes her escape, the Prince accidentally tears off her dress trying to stop her from leaving and she leaves in her underwear mortified.
- Wham Shot: Part 1 ends on several in succession, When the camera cuts back to Wolf at the end of his story he now has Miss Hunt tied up and wearing her clothes, followed by a shot of just who Miss Hunt is babysitting for; Red Riding Hood's children.
- Wicked Cultured: Wolf definitely has overtones of this, arriving in a Conspicuous Trenchcoat and sitting down with Miss Hunt for tea, seemingly just for the company. It's to drop her guard long enough to strip her and get her clothes.
And now the old wolf's plan becomes clear - to devour those his old enemy holds dear.