THE BALLAD OF NESSIE (2011) (***)
This origin story of the Loch Ness monster is a sweet ode to Disney’s Silly Symphonies shorts of the 1940s and ‘50s. Narrated by Billy Connolly, the tale follows Nessie as she is forced out of her cozy pond by a loud mini-golf course developer named MacFroogle. She heads out with her best friend, the rubber duck MacQuack, to find a new home, but it’s not that easy. The whole incident makes her just want to cry, but she’s Scottish and she is supposed to keep a stiff upper lip.
The Ballad of Nessie
Directors/writers Stevie Wermers and Kevin Deters (HOW TO HOOK UP YOUR HOME THEATER) bring sensitivity to this story. It’s a thin plot but it carries emotional weight. The appealing design of Nessie and her world (loved the plaid mountains), Connolly’s pitch perfect voice over for both the touching and brave face moments and solid character animation attribute to this success.
The hand drawn short seems fitting to play before WINNIE THE POOH, another throwback to a different age of Disney animation. The poetic narration gives it a timeless appeal as well. Wermers originally conceived of the character when she was in college and has finally brought the story of a sensitive monster to the screen. Her love for the subject certainly shines through.