Review: The expedition of the Vos family (2020)

The expedition of the Vos family (2020)

Directed by: Bob Wilbers | 72 minutes | adventure, family | Actors: Levi Otto, Raymonde de Kuyper, Anna Drijver, Fockeline Ouwerkerk, Randy Fokke, Frederik Brom, Ruurt de Maesschalck, Ralph Moerman, Peter Faber, Lucilla Bellinga, Fien Lindenhovius

What kid doesn’t love it; the Efteling! The amusement park in the Brabant village of Kaatsheuvel has been around since 1952 and has since conquered many hearts. Whether you like spectacular attractions such as the Python, Joris en de Draak or De Baron from 1898 or if you are a fan of the still beautiful fairytale forest, every amusement park visitor will find what they are looking for at the Efteling. The park has just the right balance of nostalgia and adrenaline. No wonder that producer Lucio Messercola – known for, among other things, ‘The letter for Sinterklaas’ (2019) – was eager to record a family film in the Efteling. ‘The expedition of the Vos family’ (2020) was written by brother Job and sister Nienke Römer and directed by Bob Wilders, for whom this is his feature film debut. ‘The expedition of the Vos family’ should have been shown in cinemas shortly before Christmas, to entertain many families during the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately, the cinemas were closed just before the premiere due to the coronalockdown. The makers now hope to be able to sell their film via the streaming services.

Like many Dutch families, the Vos family also goes to the Efteling for a weekend every year. Normally grandpa Berend (Peter Faber in such a small supporting role that it’s more of a cameo), who worked for years at the Efteling, is the great initiator. He set out a treasure hunt that the children Vos tried to solve with great pleasure. But now that Grandpa Berend has passed away, everything is different. Eleven-year-old Teun (Levi Otto), who misses his grandfather very much, hopes he has left him one last treasure hunt, but the adults in the family don’t believe in that. Teun’s mother Marieke (Anna Drijver) is a confused chaotic who, together with Elise (Randy Fokke, from the Albert Heijn commercials) has her own company that she finds it hard to let go. Aunt Katinka (Fockeline Ouwerkerk) is heavily pregnant and quite stressed and has only brought a pair of high stilettos to the Efteling. Her money- and status-hungry husband Rikkert (Frederik Brom, married in daily life to screenwriter Nienke Römer) is rather absent; as soon as they enter the park, he disappears like snow in the sun. No one knows where he is. Cousin Dylan (Ralph Moerman) fears being stuck with his little sister and niece all weekend. Only aunt Ada (Raymonde de Kuyper) is interested in an exciting expedition with Teun through the Efteling. They soon discover that Grandpa has hidden his very precious fairy tale book. But it turns out they aren’t the only ones after this special treasure; a mysterious type with Little Red Riding Hood always seems to be too quick for them…

Family films like this target a very broad target group and should therefore not be too complicated or scary, so that even the smallest family members can watch them carefree. Brother and sister Römer have understood that well, because the plot of ‘The Expedition of the Vos family’ is simple and straightforward and the villain is certainly not terrifying. The adults watching will soon realize how the fork is in the handle, but for children between the ages of five and ten, the mystery is exciting enough to captivate from start to finish. Nor will they be annoyed by the stupidity that rears its head here and there. In addition, many will be pleasantly surprised with the presence of Lucilla Bellinga, descendant of the famous Zwolle YouTube family Bellinga, who plays Teun’s sisters Saar here. She also sings the theme song of the film, ‘Together with the world’, with her mother Fara. She doesn’t really have to act, but her presence will undoubtedly appeal to the target group. Little is asked of the adult cast, while people like Anna Drijver and Frederik Brom really have something to offer. Sin. Fortunately, there is Raymonde de Kuyper who steals the show, as the somewhat unworldly (great) aunt Ada, who fortunately has not yet lost contact with the child in herself and who is completely involved in Teun’s quest. De Kuyper steals the show with a handful of hilarious one-liners and also has a fine chemistry with child star Levi Otto, who also comes out well.

However, the big star of ‘The expedition of the Vos family’ is… the Efteling! The film was shot during the Winter Efteling and therefore also has a cozy winter atmosphere. But it is the recognizability of the attractions – from De Wolf and the seven goats to the Gondoletta and from the Haunted Castle via the Indian Water Lilies to the Baron of 1898 – that makes this film so charming for anyone who visits the park from time to time. Breaking into the park at night and strolling past the attractions through the dark is a dream of many! Or how about taking a ride on your own (or in this case with your crazy great-aunt) in the exciting Baron – in the dark! It’s those kinds of charming scenes, plus the modest running time of 72 minutes, that make ‘The Expedition of the Vos family’ so pleasant to watch for both young and old.

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