Most of E.B. White’s elegant language is missing and the animation is nowhere near the Disney level, but the new animated version of “Trumpet of the Swan” (G, some tension and peril) is still a very good family movie with much to enjoy and talk about.
As the movie begins, proud and loving trumpeter swans Father (Jason Alexander) and Mother (Mary Steenburgen) are awaiting the hatching of their new children. The young cygnets are all they dreamed of, except for Louie (Dee Baker), who is mute. This creates two problems. Louie cannot express his feelings without words, and he cannot attract a mate without the ability to make the trumpeting sound that gives this breed of swans their name.
Louie tries to solve the first problem with the help of a human friend named Sam, who takes him to school so that his teacher, Mrs. Hammerbottom (Carol Burnett) can teach him to read and write. Father tries to solve the second problem by stealing a trumpet from a musical instrument store. Even though Father knows it is wrong to take something without paying for it, he feels that he must do it to help his son.
Louie’s skill at reading and writing does not do him any good with the swans, who cannot understand him, but he does find a sweet girl swan named Serena who understands him without words. But he cannot settle down with Serena until he puts his father’s heart at rest by finding a way to pay for the trumpet. After many adventures, Louie and Serena are able to live happily ever after.
Families who see this movie should talk about the importance of finding a way to communicate and the value of people who can understand us. They will also want to talk about the conflict faced by Father, who wanted so desperately to help his son that he was willing to risk his life and do something he knew was wrong.
Families who enjoy this movie should read the wonderful book, along White’s other classics, “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little.” They will enjoy the movie versions of those stories as well.