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Review: Wiplala (2014)

Director: Tim Oliehoek | 93 minutes | adventure, family | Actors: Géza Weisz, Sasha Mylanus, Kee Ketelaar, Peter Paul Muller, Gabbi Lieve van Waveren, Cas Jansen, Jack Wouterse,

Annie M.G. Schmidt’s “Wiplala” has been a favorite book for parents and children for years. The queen of youth literature published the book in 1957, well before “Ibbeltje”, “Minoes” and “Pluk van de Petteflet” and “Otje”, but it is about the last to be brought to the silver screen. Not surprising, of course, because the story requires a lot of special effects. Producer BosBros thought the time was right for a film version of this timeless classic, and guess what? They were right.

In “Wiplala” we meet the Blom family, whose mother passed away not so long ago. The other members hang together like loose sand. Father Blom is busy with his work as a teacher, even now it is Christmas holidays. He often has his nose in the books and sometimes forgets that he also has to take care of his children. The nine-year-old Johannes is particularly affected by this. His father is strict with him and sets high standards for the boy. His bigger sister Nella Della takes care of the groceries and the food, but does not always have time for Johannes either.

One evening, when he should already be sleeping, Johannes hears a strange noise in the kitchen. When he goes to look, he discovers a very small man. At first he thinks it is a gnome, but that does not serve the creature. He introduces himself as Wiplala. He is therefore a wiplala. Wiplala can tinkle. That is a kind of magic. Unfortunately, he is not very good at it. Tinkling back is successful, but tinkling back is often problematic. Despite the fact that Wiplala has pinned their cat Vlieg (read: petrified it), Johannes thinks it is nice to have a little friend with them. As long as he can, he keeps Wiplala to himself. But it doesn’t take long before Nella Della finds out …

“Wiplala” is an adventurous film, full of and humor. The story told with speed keeps the viewer constantly on the ball. The main elements of Annie M.G. Schmidt have been preserved, but screenwriter Tamara Bos (“Minoes”, “Pluk”, “Otje”) has given it a modern twist. It is completely credible that a wiplala suddenly appears in the typical Dutch kitchen cupboard. The convincing special effects testify to imagination and creativity.

The cast also manages to win over the audience; Johannes and Wiplala are not inferior to each other in roguishness. As antihero Wiplala, knows exactly how to find the right balance between tough and endearing and Sasha Mylanus is a wonderfully determined little guy who subtly covers a range of emotions. The emphasis in “Wiplala” may be more on than feelings, but there is a moment to swallow at the end. Director has turned ‘Wiplala’ into an irresistible film, which will delight young and old alike.

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