Review: Mice too go to heaven – I mysi patrí do nebe (2021)

Mice too go to heaven – I mysi patrí do nebe (2021)

Directed by: Jan Bubenicek, Denisa Grimmová | 85 minutes | animation, family | Dutch voice cast: Leonoor Koster, Martijn Claes, Hein van Beem, Marlies Bosmans, Joost Claes, Enzo Coenen, Alkan Çöklü, Jonathan Demoor

“Daddy, mommy, what happens to you when you die?” There will come a time when a parent or caregiver will be confronted with this question. And whatever your take on this, whether you believe in the afterlife, reincarnation, or that there is nothing, it won’t make for an easy conversation with your child for most people. The Czech stop-motion animation film ‘Mice also go to heaven’ offers at least a handle to conduct the conversation.

Whizzy is a young mouse girl who grows up without a father, but with brothers and a mother. She lost her father when he heroically confronted the most dangerous animal in the forest: the evil fox. Unfortunately papa mouse did not survive, but he is still seen as a hero by all forest inhabitants. Whizzy has trouble standing in her father’s shadow; before his death he told her that she should always be brave, but that is not easy if you are always afraid. When this tragic event is addressed in school history class, and Whizzy is laughed at for her fearfulness (mouse children are cruel too!), something snaps in her mind. She will show everyone that she is as fearless as her father: she is going to pull out a lock of hair on a fox!

And so Whizzy enters animal heaven. But that has a different cause than you might think. And the animal heaven that Whizzy ends up in is also different from what you normally imagine. To begin with, all animals must be bathed. Here they lose their natural instincts and claws and teeth, so that they no longer want and can eat each other. Thus all animals become equal. However, that does not mean that heaven is without danger. As she journeys through heaven, Whizzy learns that she must look ahead and accept herself as she is. Themes such as prejudice and friendship also play an important role in the story.

Jan Bubeníček and Denisa Grimmová, the directors and technical designer and art director respectively of this film, have created a truly wonderful world. The sets (there are almost eighty!) are very imaginative and show an enormous dedication and love for the story. The characters – there are a lot of them, some are only briefly in the picture, but each has a clear and no superfluous function – have a unique appearance. No bow was made to the young crowd to make them look cute. Still, you want to embrace these characters in your heart.

The fact that this does not work immediately depends mainly on the scenario. The stubborn Whizzy is sometimes bloody irritating because she just doesn’t want to understand her former enemy, Whitebelly the fox. The viewer’s sympathy is therefore much more with the fox. It is a nice metaphor for the racism that is still the order of the day in our society, but the antipathy for Whizzy ensures that you become less emotionally involved.

‘Mice go to heaven too’ thus deals with spicy themes, but packs this into a fairly balanced exciting and sometimes funny adventure with as many layers as you want to see in it. The comparison with ‘Soul’ is lurking, but this is a completely different film. All praise to the detailed sets and the characters, what a work this has been and what a result!

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