There's a lot of insipid children's
television out there, so it's nice to see a lively classic such as
the Eloise books by Kay Thompson adapted to the screen. In Me,
Eloise we get to meet six-year-old Eloise and share a
light-hearted and cheery adventure with her and all her friends at
the Plaza Hotel.
The 45-minute film introduces Eloise
(literally: she turns to the camera and tells us a little bit about
herself; it's a nice idea and clever in being so direct) and draws us
into her adventures as she gets ready for her birthday party. When
she meets a visiting violin prodigy named Yuko, a whole batch of new
plans get dreamed up as Eloise is determined to show her new young
friend how to really have fun, without the grownups around. Needless
to say, there are surprises and mischief, but everything comes out to
a happy ending.
The story is nicely paced and has
lively voice-acting and colorful, engaging animations; it's sure to
be a hit with girls around the 5- to 6-year age range. From the adult
point of view, there are two main questions to ask: 1. is it
something I want my daughter to watch? and 2. am I going to be bored
out of my own skull watching it? (Actually, there's a 2b. which is Am
I going to go insane if my daughter decides to watch this over and
over and over...). To 1. I would say that yes, Me, Eloise is
good stuff. The story is fun and light-hearted, with adventures that
(amazingly!) do not involve any violence or peril. There's some minor
mischief on Eloise's part, but she's always acting with good
intentions and in the end she very graciously and sincerely
apologizes for the trouble she's caused. To 2. I'd say that this is
an adult-friendly as well as a kid-friendly film; it's fun to watch
as a grown-up, too, and the music is good enough that you won't mind
hearing it more than once. Or so I would think; don't go emailing me
if your six-year-old watches it fifty gazillion times and you can't
deal with knowing all the words to the theme song, OK?
Me, Eloise is very nicely
presented with a choice of either "full-screen" or
widescreen modes; the widescreen offers more image to the sides and
definitely looks better than the full-screen version. I like that
there's the choice, but watch out: the viewing mode choice screen
only appears for about five seconds before POOF! it defaults to
full-screen, and there's no menu option for changing it back; I had
to actually eject the disc and insert it again to get the option
The picture is bright and clean,
with the colorful animations looking very pleasing to the eye.
The film offers both a Dolby 5.1 and
a Dolby 2.0 soundtrack; the audio is handled well, always crisp,
clean, and natural-sounding. English closed captions are available,
as is a Spanish language track.
The extras are minor but may be of
interest to six-year-olds. There's a "Weenie to the Rescue"
game that's about as interesting as DVD games usually are (no, that's
not a compliment). The Sing-Along-Song plays the (stylish) credits
with karaoke-style lyrics shown. "Plaza Pals" gives further
information about the characters. The one feature that might be of
interest to adults as well as kids is the "From Paper to Movie"
section, a three-minute segment that compares the sketched
storyboards to the finished film. There's also some DVD-ROM content.
If you have a daughter in the five-
to six-year-old range, Me, Eloise looks like a pretty safe
bet. It's a cheerful, moderately clever piece that has an engaging
storyline and characters, and the character lessons implied
(friendship, responsibility) are pretty decent. I'll give it a solid