Valiant: Disney Lite

It's the Disney archetype: fate has stripped you of your higher power--no mom (Bambi), no dad (Lion King), no corporate career (Mary Poppins)--so you're own your own. You've got a decision to make, and if you want to survive, you better act fast. For generations Disney has led children into confronting this existential reality and irked a lot of moms and dads who don't want to be killed off in the first act. (How easy it is to identify with the characters of a Disney flick.)

Disney is the Great American Fable Generator that walks us into the solitary world of our own moral landscape and beckons us to make it live.

The company's 2005 UK production Valiant does this, too. In the world of the Disney epic, this 76-minute G-rated bit of computer animation resembles the other older--and grander--members of the Disney family. Based on the premise about the role carrier pigeons played in WWII, the moral of the story is that even little guys can do great things. Brains trumps brawn. Teamwork is everything. It's all good stuff.

My daughter, who is eight, had no notion of WWII, but it didn't matter. Good versus evil is a timeless theme--and the fat bully in the leather coat could be any bad guy. Here is the drawback in the movie: none of the characters rises above type. For those of us who are fat on Disney fables loaded with rich subplots--What really went on between Bert and Mary Poppins? (I still want to know.)--and like to be that way, Valiant is a bit thin. But it's not bad; we all get to walk away imagining being the pigeon who saved the day and maybe even one of the 32 such birds whom the British government decorated with medals.