Andre Review

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A stranded seal is nursed back to health and becomes a local celebrity.


You can hear the pitch: Free Willy with a seal. Except that - rather oddly - it turned out as Free Willy with a sea lion, because seals are, apparently, a bugger to train, which makes the references to Andre as a seal throughout this movie sound nothing short of surreal. Still, regardless of the technicalities, it's a marine mammal, there's a child involved, and it warms the cockles as only these films can.

Based on a true story, and directed by the Never Ending Story II George Miller as opposed to the Mad Max one, it tells the tale of Andre the orphaned seal cub saved by New England harbour master Harry Whitney (Carradine) and adopted by his daughter Toni (flavour of the moment moppet Tina Majorino, last seen in When A Man Loves A Woman and Corrina Corrina). They have adventures, the nasty local fisherman blame their poor catches on the seal, winter comes, they put the little chap in an aquarium because he won't swim south, they bring him back out every summer, the media cotton on, and Andre becomes a celebrity.

Throughout, there are the usual dangers and joys, with a variety of animals as well as Andre popping up at intervals regular enough to keep younger children happy, while the scenery - actually Vancouver, since Maine is, apparently, a bugger to film in during the winter - is stunning enough for every adult to contemplate immediate emigration and worry about their quality of life.

Since it's not as well-made, well-written, well-acted or downright spectacular as its massive predecessor, this is essentially Free Willy without the teeth.