Image for Valiant

British CG family caper set during World War II. Little bird Valiant (McGregor) enlists to become a homing pigeon and helps the Allies by flying across the English Channel to retrieve an important message. But the enemy’s Falcon brigade is waiting...


A relatively low-budget UK/American co-production, Valiant delivers an unusual — but welcome — blend of modern, CG animation and old-fashioned British wartime cheer. Nostalgic in tone, it’s peppered with archetypal British characters that wouldn’t look out of place in Dad’s Army or ’Allo ’Allo — were they human, that is.

Valiant (voiced by Ewan McGregor) is a chirpy little patriot whose fellow homing pigeons include a posh, bookish chap, a couple of dim-witted Geordie brothers and a scruffy chancer named Bugsy (Ricky Gervais). There’s even a sexy nurse dove and a seductive French Resistance mouse. It’s a likeable line-up, and the voice-casting is astute. John Cleese is amusing as a captured pigeon officer whose stiff upper lip crumbles under the influence of truth serum, while Gervais — although the weakest voice actor — is well suited to workshy Bugsy.

The $40 million budget has been well spent: with quality character animation and art direction, this visually holds its own next to its Pixar/DreamWorks peers. However, with its lack of urgency and comparatively muted comedy, it doesn’t quite match the likes of Shrek or Nemo.

A valiant effort from a UK/US alliance, this offers appealing characters and visual flair — just don’t expect it to outperform its bigger-budget rivals.