Review: Plop in the Clouds (2000)

Plop in the Clouds (2000)

Directed by: Bart van Leemputten | 70 minutes | family | Actors: Walter de Donder, Aimé Anthoni, Chris Cauwenbergs, Agnes De Nul, Clara Cleymans, Karin Jacobs, Peter Van den Begin, Stany Crets, Britt van der Borght, Luk Alloo, Luc Caals, Ward de Ravet, Carl Ridders, Hilde Van Hulle

‘Plop in the clouds’ is the second feature film about the gnome Plop who lives in the gnome forest with his friends Klus, Lui, Kwebbel, Smal and Smul. After the TV series, a feature film for the multimillion-dollar company Studio 100 was a breeze and just a year later the market was ripe for a sequel. ‘The gnome treasure’ (1999) was followed by this new film in which gnome Plop experiences another exciting adventure.

Just as Plop wants to cut a cake for his friends, a tube with a letter falls from the sky, delivered by a carrier pigeon. The letter states that Plop’s grandfather (who actually doesn’t look much older than the title character), gnome Knap, is seriously ill. When Plop cannot bring the necessary medicine, an extract of the Carbuncle Root – difficult words for the target group – Grandpa Knap will no longer be there… That Carbuncle Root was found in no time, but the biggest problem is the distance… Grandpa Knap lives for ten days walk from the milk inn of gnome Plop and then the hourglass, which indicates exactly the time that Plop has for this mission, is of course already empty… But luckily Klus knows something about that. They are going to build a hot air balloon!

The special effects are quite decent. Children who have not yet outgrown the middle school will believe that Lui will at some point dangle from the rope that hangs from the hot air balloon. The balloon is also nicely designed. The plot of this film adventure aimed at toddlers and preschoolers is – as we are used to from Studio 100, as well as most other productions aimed at children, for that matter – simple. The goal of Plop and his friends is clear and a number of obstacles will have to be overcome before they reach it. There is nothing wrong with that. The idea that Smul and Smal cannot go with the balloon is even clever. Following the two separate tour groups is just fun for the little ones.

What does turn out wrong is one of those other obstacles: the result of the encounter that Plop, Chatter, Klus and Lui have during their search for more firewood to keep the balloon in the air. The three dirty gnomes Jeuk, Stink and Snot are really the most unappetizing trio that Studio 100 has ever devised. Their part in the film is stretched far too long, so that their characters almost degenerate into horror characters in the eyes of an average five-year-old. It is hard to imagine that there are no children who have nightmares about this. A little tension in a children’s film is good, but when rescue is near at the end and tension is still squeezed out every second, you can honestly wonder whether you are doing your child a favor with this. Not for the faint hearted, but tough Plop fans will not turn a blind eye to it and will see this as a treat. In any case, ‘Plop in the clouds’ is not one of the best Plop films.

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