Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose12
There are certain things that are difficult to explain, such as flickering, moving lights in the night sky, the disappearance of ships in the Bermuda triangle, and why men don’t sit down and pee instead of making such a mess when they do standing up.
This film, based on a true-ish story that took place in the 1930’s, sees a scientist follow up on just such a mystery, with a curious tale of an actual talking animal.
1937, London, and renowned parapsychologist Nandor Fodor (Simon Pegg) is going through his mail with his assistant Anne (Minnie Driver) in his office.
One letter tickles his curiosity, from respected scientist Dr. Harry Price (Christopher Lloyd), who describes how a family on the Isle of Man claim to have a Mongoose named Gef (voiced by Neil Gaiman) not only visit them but talk to them too.
So Fodor decides this is worth further investigation, and soon both he and Anne find themselves on the island, contacting the Irving family.
Fodor’s first instinct is that it’s all a stunt put on by the family, especially when he learns that the daughter Voirrey (Jessica Balmer) is a canny ventriloquist. But the longer he stays, and the more interactions he has with Gef, puts that element of doubt into his mind, almost surprising himself at the thought that he might actually entertain the notion that it could be real. But is it?
The idea of a talking mongoose is quite fantastic, or so you would think, but US director Adam Sigal doesn’t make the kind of fuss about it you would expect with his latest film. In fact, the mongoose itself takes somewhat of a backseat most of the time, as he chooses to explore the characters involved instead.
One of the recurring themes is that of the relationship between Fodor and his father, that comes across as somewhat strained. Then there’s the relationship that Fodor has with the Irving family, as he attempts to suss out their motive for putting on this show.
Sigal spends so much of the film with supporting characters, he misses out on what could have been a playful, intriguing family film. He’s certainly not helped by Gaiman’s voice work, which has a disturbing Gollum quality to it, which dispels any attempt of having a warm, E.T-like relationship.
To that end, there are some nice performances, especially from Pegg, Driver and Paul Kaye, but it comes at the expense of the story.
It’s also one of those films that rather disappointingly leaves everything up in the air, without informing us of what happened to Gef and all those others involved in the end.
An interesting film, with a fascinating premise, that ultimately doesn’t quite know what to do with it, and so with an opportunity to really embrace the fantasy and spectacle, it sadly squanders it.