Having eyed up Fox's successful attempt to muscle in on the Disney act with Anastasia, here come Warner Bros having a crack at the lucrative full-length cartoon with this fun piece. And quite a decent fist they've made of it.
Based around the myths of Camelot, it's the not-entirely-original story of a young girl whose knight father is slain by Ruber (Oldman), a diabolical baddy (seemingly based on the butler from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) who has designs on grabbing Excalibur and wreaking as much havoc as possible. The young girl grows up to be a sassy late-90s animated heroine, Kayley (Jessalyn Gilsig) chumming up with blind, handsome and fiercely misunderstood Garrett (Elwes) to get Excalibur back, avenge her father, save Camelot, become a knight, get married and live happily ever after, etc...
After the dull Hercules and the politically ludicrous Anastasia, this is a breath of fresh air, taking itself not at all seriously and cramming in several gags approaching the quality of Aladdin's. The highlight is a two-headed dragon called Devon and Cornwall (voiced by Eric Idle and Don Rickles) whose bickering and wisecracking is fairly aimed at - and lands perfectly with - the adults in the audience.
The music is by turns just poor or blatantly ripping off The Lion King; indeed the whole spin and execution could have come right out of the Magic Kingdom. Admittedly, the animation is not a patch on Disney, but the movie as a whole - an undeserved flop in the US - is energetic, pacey and funny with tons of great fights. What more could any six-year-old want?