The Amazing Wiplala is a family film from the Netherlands that introduces a new breed of diminutive personage to the big screen. There are many films of this kind, one of the more notable being the many iterations of The Borrowers that have come about – there is also a portion which hearkens back to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which is a touch I love. Wiplala is a film adaptation of a children’s book that comes form the Netherlands and is beloved there. However, the film should have a fairly broad appeal and does have some wrinkles of its own.
The tale is outlined as follows:
Young Johannes’ “Wiplala” is no imaginary friend, he’s as real as a four-inch-tall wizard can be. Wiplala befriends the family until he shrinks all of its members. Oops… the spell can’t be undone! Thrills and adventure ahead!
There is the added element of magic and its clear that thing soon start getting out of hand and somehow that has to be corrected. As with any film of this kind there is a discovery by the protagonist in this case Johannes (Sasha Mylanus), and slowly the existence of this creature must be learned by the rest of the family. This is handled in a fairly pain-free and humorous manner. In a nice bit of balancing the ramifications of the mishaps Wiplala incurs are far-reaching but only the family, and select others know. The world doesn’t get too big such that when the focus has to shift from Wiplala (or his deeds) to the individual family members its nearly seamless and not competing with anything else.
The narrative is full of creative, simply-rendered comedic elements and a few small subplots that work. The funniest one being about Arthur Hollidee, the lovelorn unsuccessful author. There is a more visually striking one but that is better off left as a surprise. The struggle is a fairly simple one and there is a good deal of emotional symbiosis that connects the characters and makes it click.
The cast does fairly good work making all this work. Geza Weisz in the eponymous role of errant betwinkler (a kind of wizard, but don’t call him that) is sprightly, bubbly and charismatic without a trace of irony. Kee Ketelaar has a tricky role to handle as the elder sister Nella Della. The script allows her little room for being anything other than an implicative, brown-nosing older sister through much of it then when things get serious she has to be more sincere and earn those moments for the film. Next, Sasha Mylanus well embodies the role of Kid Next Door who just kind of feels lost in the shuffle and finds this secret wonder. His character’s journey is the most complete and takes us into this world well. Many of the Dutch family productions I’ve seen recently have also featured memorable humorous turns from supporting players whom are senior citizens, most notably here Paul Kooij.
The Amazing Wiplala a humorous, escapist light fare that will offer diversion to all sensibilities in a family keeping them equally engaged and entertained; well worth looking out for.