The latest in the terrific series of American Girls movies is the story of Saige (Sidney Fullmer), a talented artist and a horse-lover. She is devastated to learn that due to budget cuts, there will be no more art class in her school. Just as painful, her lifetime best friend seems to like a new friend better. Everything she thought she understood and everyone she thought understood her seem to be changing.
Then it gets worse. Her adored grandmother (Jane Seymour), an accomplished artist and Saige’s role model, is hurt in an accident.
Saige has to learn some new skills and develop her understanding and courage in this heartwarming story of friendship, problem-solving, and making change work for you.
A young girl named Kayley dreams of being a knight like her father, who was killed defending King Arthur from the brutal Ruber. When Ruber steals Excalibur from Camelot, Kayley goes into the forbidden forest to find it. There she meets Garrett, a squire befriended by her late father, who left Camelot after he became blind. Joined by a two-headed dragon, they find the sword and fight Ruber to return Excalibur to Arthur.
This is the first attempt by Warner Brothers, home of Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck, to get into Disney territory with a full-length animated musical drama, and it is a step in the right direction, even if it does not match Disney or even non-Disney features like “Anastasia.”
The movie’s greatest strength is the first-class talent providing the voices: Cary Elwes as Garrett, Jane Seymour and Gabriel Byrne as Kayley’s parents, Don Rickles and Monty Python’s Eric Idle as the dragon, and (all too briefly) Sir John Gielgud as Merlin. The animation has some good moments, especially a sleepy ogre. The heroine and hero are spirited if a bit too generic. But with the exception of the dragon’s cute duet, the songs add little and slow down the story. Themes worth discussing include the importance of cooperation, loyalty, and the strengths of those considered disabled.