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Western Animation / Thumbelina (1994)

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Don Bluth's adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale Thumbelina.

It sticks to the basic story of the original fairly closely. A woman pines for a child and, magically, she is gifted with a daughter no bigger than her thumb. Thumbelina, as she is aptly named, is a happy person but wishes she could find someone else her size. Her wish comes true when she meets the prince of the fairies, Cornelius, and they quickly fall in love. But that night, she's snatched away by a toad who wants Thumbelina to join her performance troupe and marry her son.

She escapes with the help of a friendly swallow named Jaquimo, but now she has the impossible task of getting home. Meanwhile, both Cornelius and the jaded toad Grundel are determined to find her.

Compare with Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, which had its own... unique take on Thumbelina.


Thumbelina provides examples of:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal:
    • Jacquimo wears only a hat, gloves, and boots, though his breast feathers are designed to look like a harlequin's shirt.
    • The bull at the farm wears shoes.
    • In fact, a large number of the animals wear accessories, when they aren't completely dressed. The fish in the stream have hats and scarves, the goose on the farm has a hat and shawl, the chickens have pompadours.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Say what you will about the overall quality of the movie, but most of its weird and or confusing plot points (like Thumbelina being born out of a flower and tiny) were already in the original story by Hans Christian Andersen. The romance between Thumbelina and the fairy prince was, if you can believe it, even less developed than in the movie, with the prince only appearing at the end. Also, Thumbelina's toad suitor, the beetle, and her mother are never heard from after their initial appearances, whereas the film expanded their roles.
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  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The fact that Thumbelina meets the swallow earlier in the movie can make viewers wonder why he didn't just give her a ride home in the first place.
  • Adult Fear: For any parent afraid of losing their daughter. Thumbelina gets kidnapped and forced to marry a sleaze, but escapes only to be lured by a shady nightclub owner into dancing for entertainment (and her clothes come off towards the end). She's then taken in by a rich old creep who also wants to keep her for himself as repayment for his kindness. The whole film feels an awful lot like a euphemism for child sex-trafficking.
  • Agony of the Feet: During the "On the Road" number, Mrs. Toad uses this method to get Thumbelina to join the singing: by stepping on her foot!
    Mrs. Toad: Now, I make her sing!
    Thumbelina: Ahh-a-ahhhh!
    Mrs. Toad: Bueno! Muy Bueno, you got it!
  • Ambiguously Evil: While the mole is a man of wealth and prefers the dark, when traveling through his tunnel, there's an entire chamber surrounded by pinned insects, and since bugs are sentient in this story, it means he makes a habit of making taxidermies of any bug that comes into his cavern. Nobody, except Beetle brings this up as a flaw.
  • Analogy Backfire: Jacquimo's examples of love conquering the impossible, suggesting he should probably read more:
    Jaquimo: Samson loved Delilah... Romeo, et Juliet... oh, impossible!
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Happens to poor Thumbelina several times.
  • Animal Talk: Which is strange since neither Hero the dog nor Corneius' bee can talk.
  • Big Damn Reunion: Between Thumbelina and Prince Cornelius at the end.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Any scene with Cornelius or the other fairies; it's somewhat justified in that their wings are really sparkly.
  • Born as an Adult: When Thumbelina is born out of a flower, she is at least a teenager.
  • Break the Cutie: The movie seems hell-bent on making Thumbelina miserable.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Jacquimo interrupts a sentient fox hunting a sentient rabbit. Everyone involved treats the situation strangely matter-of-factly.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ms. Field Mouse is a bit... off her rocker. If you wear a pincushion as a dress while singing about Romeo and Juliet's death, you are a Cuckoolander. Being voiced by Carol Channing does not help.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Thumbelina's looks and beautiful singing voice really give her a lot of trouble.
  • Dark Reprise: The tune of "Let Me Be Your Wings" is used for a short reprise called "Once There Was The Sun". It keeps the magical, upbeat tune and has sunny visuals, but it's about Thumbelina lamenting both the harsh winter and Cornelius' apparent death.
  • Emo Teen: Thumbelina after the bugs throw her out for being "ugly".
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Fairy wings are very sparkly.
  • Expy: Jacquimo is basically a dreamier version of Henri from An American Tail. French birds in Don Bluth films who sing a bouncy number early on about never giving up? Yeah.
  • Fainting: Mocked mercilessly by The Nostalgia Chick:
    Nostalgia Chick: And like all animated heroines she has a tendency towards fainting. Boom! Unconscious!
  • Fairy Companion: The Fairy Prince, literally. Jacquimo the Swallow, to some degree, though he's much larger than Thumbelina.
  • Four-Legged Insect: All of the insects except for the Fairy Prince's pet bumblebee, who coincidentally is also the only one who can't talk.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Thumbelina and Cornelius fall in love after an hour of spending time together. This is all just because he's the same size as she.
    Thumbelina: I think I'm gonna marry him.
    The Nostalgia Chick: I mean I've known him for all of twelve hours.
Incidentally, this is a step up from the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, which has Thumbelina meet the prince for the first time, fall in love with him, and marry him all at the very end of the story.
  • Furry Confusion: The Fairy Prince's pet bumblebee is the only realistically drawn animal in the entire movie. According to some it's the fairy equivalent of a motorcycle, but it's still noticeable as there is a cartoony bee in the Jitterbugs gang.
  • Gag Boobs: Mrs. Toad's Non-Mammal Mammaries. They're not massive, exactly, but there's just no way to ignore them. They're also perfectly spherical from any point of view.
  • Gainaxing: Mrs. Toad's bosom bounces slightly at some points.
  • Gay Paree: The prologue takes place here. Odd, since the rest of the film has nothing to do with Paris and given the author's nationality you would expect the story to take place in Denmark.
  • Genre Savvy: A little jitterbug watches Cornelius and Thumbelina fly past and asks her mother, "She's gonna marry the fairy prince, huh Momma?"
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
  • He's a Friend: The family dog wants to attack the prince, as he's a stranger that's come into the house in the middle of the night. As soon as Thumbelina makes it clear he has permission to be there, Hero goes back to sleep.
  • Humans Are Ugly: The opinion of the bugs at the club after Thumbelina's bug costume falls off...although it turns out she's a fairy and not a human, but aside from the wings they look the same anyway.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Thumbelina. It takes her the entire movie to figure out her captors don't care about her interests and stop letting them push her around. And it never occurs to her to ask Jaquimo to take her home, then go look for the Vale of the Fairies. This is somewhat justified, however, by her sheltered existence.
    • Jacquimo is just as bad, if not worse. Why doesn't it occur to him to fly her home first, then go look for the Vale of the Fairies?
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The movie's full title is Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina.
  • The Ingenue: Thumbelina, to the point that she cannot defend herself in any way until the end of the movie.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Mrs. Toad was modeled after her voice actress, the guitarist and singer Charo. Jarringly so. Thumbelina herself also has a degree of resemblance to Jodi Benson (who had famously voiced Ariel just a few years prior to this film).
  • Karma Houdini: Mrs. Toad, who gets no comeuppance whatsoever for her part in kidnapping Thumbelina, or in trying to force her to marry Grundel.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: If Cornelius and Thumbelina hadn't shown off their Award-Bait Song to the toad family, Mrs. Toad wouldn't have kidnapped her. Also Thumbelina singing in front of Grundel during the song, and turning toward him on the line "Heaven is where you are" even though she's really singing to Cornelius, causes the toad to fall for her.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Mrs. Toad. Good God, Mrs. Toad.
  • Painting the Frost on Windows: The fairies are responsible for changing the seasons.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Marry the Mole" is a strange pseudo-example. While Miss Field Mouse thinks she's giving Thumbelina good advice and encouragement, she's also telling her to marry someone for their money and that love is over-rated.
  • Pop-Star Composer: This is Barry Manilow's first project with Don Bluth. He not only wrote the songs, but he also wrote the film score along with William Ross.
  • Random Events Plot: It's not all the movie's fault, the original fairy tale is just that odd.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Even when Thumbelina has her hair in a high ponytail, it still goes down to her thighs.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Prince Cornelius covers a surprising distance (considering his size), nearly dies in a frozen lake, and fights a large irate frog to save Thumbelina.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Inverted and downplayed. While Prince Cornelius is the outgoing, adventurous Energetic Guy, Thumbelina is the shy and slightly practical Savvy Girl.
  • She's a Man in Japan: Ms. Field Mouse. Who is actually voiced by a man in Japan.
  • Shout-Out: Mr. Beetle's first name is Berkeley, though the ballroom sequence isn't a Busby Berkeley Number.
  • Songs of Solace: "Soon" is sung by Thumbelina to comfort herself because she's lonely. Her mother later sings it to comfort herself over her missing daughter.
  • Species Surname: Mrs. Toad, Mr. Beetle, Miss Field Mouse, and Mr. Mole.
  • Spexico: Los Sapos Guapos say they come from Spain. Yet the song has snippets of samba (Brazil), conga (Cuba), tango (Argentina), and mentions Mexican foods. Mrs. Toad may be parodying Charo, but her hairstyle looks more like that of Marie Antoinette (from France). And the Toad boys are dressed like Harlequins (from Italy). Spain is spelled as both Espana and Espagna. And though the troupe is called Los Sapos Guapos (The Handsome Toads), they seem more like frogs at times and Mrs. Toad says "ranitas" (frogs) once as well.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: In an equal-opportunity instance of this trope, almost every animal sports some kind of clothing or hairstyle that marks him or her as male or female.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Yes, you see Thumbelina grow a pair of wings and her wedding with Cornelius right there in the trailer.
  • Troperiffic: The strongest amalgam of Disney tropes before Enchanted.
  • Villain Song: Depending on who you consider to be the villains and who are just mean, we have "On the Road", "Yer Beautiful Baby", and "Marry the Mole".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Something that bothers people about the original story. Thumbelina's mother is never heard from again, nor does Thumbelina ever seem to think about her, let alone try to get back to her. The movie averts it by having getting home be one of Thumbelina's main goals, and showing scenes of her worrying about her daughter in the meantime.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: It comes from the original story. Thumbelina is courted, over the course of the story, by a toad, a beetle, and a mole. She finally marries the cute fairy prince. And it's also played with (again, has roots in Andersen): the Beetle intentionally disguises Thumbelina for the Beetle Ball because, to bugs, she is ugly. When the disguise falls apart, he lets their opinion of her change his and kicks her out.


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