The Red Balloon Review

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It’s time to look at a fairly short film. This is one of those movies where you have to really enjoy balloons as otherwise you might not get all that invested in the plot. I don’t use the word “plot” loosely either since there isn’t much to find here. It’s a very short film so I wouldn’t even say that it drags on, but the movie forgets to ever get interesting. As such you’re just watching things happen on screen but without any kind of payoff or punchline.

The film starts with a kid walking with a Red Balloon. This balloon is sentient which is handy for the kid since he would have dropped it ages ago otherwise. The Balloon isn’t allowed in the school so the kid goes on ahead and everything goes well for a while. Things deteriorate when a group of kids decide to pop the balloon. The kid doesn’t want this so he runs, but he’s up against an entire school so he may be a little outgunned here. I sympathize with the kid, but with the numbers advantage so clearly against him there just isn’t much that he can do.

The ending is a little emotional as the Balloon gets wrecked by the kids. It’s hard to feel too sympathetic though since the balloon played the match up horribly. He can fly and yet when the kids came he decided to go low. A low sweep is good when the opponent is expecting an aerial attack, but since the balloon has no legs to kick with it’s a pointless maneuver. Of course they ended up popping him. I guess they were trying to say that the balloon wasn’t very smart, but I could have told you that from the start. It’s also sad for the kid since he wasn’t very smart either, but he was pretty young so I guess I’ll cut him some slack. At the end the other balloons come together in one last act of unity and teamwork. It’s an interesting scene I guess as it does show their true colors. They didn’t come to help until after the threat was passed and the balloon was terminated. Some friends they were!

At its core the problem this film faces is that without dialogue and a plot no film can succeed. You can have a good film without dialogue or a solid one without a plot, but you can’t do both at the same time. You need something to keep the audience engaged. Even the main character wasn’t really a character. What could you tell me about him aside from the fact that he’s a kid? The guy has no real personality and just seeing him cross the street and walk around town is hardly entertaining. Kids can’t really hold their own films. This is something that has been true for decades and I don’t expect it will change anytime soon. I already talked about how I didn’t like the balloon so there were no likable characters in this film.

Also, as most of the film is just the bullies chasing the hero, you’re hoping that he will outwit them at some point or do something. At least head for the adults for backup right? Instead he just runs through a lot of empty alleys until he finally lands in a field where no one can come to help. Fortunately the bullies were only interested in the balloon, but it definitely wasn’t an optimal outcome for the kid. Things went better than they could have, but why did the bullies have to get away for free? When you stop to think about it, they ended up winning which sends the wrong message.

Overall, I can’t really see how you would enjoy this film all that much to be honest. Maybe it will generate a level of nostalgia if you used to have a pet balloon or something. I can’t recommend the film even with the length because there just doesn’t seem to be a point to it. If you just want to see the landscapes just head to Central Park or London’s tower. Sitting down to watch someone just walk around doesn’t strike me as something that would be entertaining to do. If we ever get a sequel hopefully this time it gets a bigger budget so we will have something to watch and be entertained by. In the meantime, you should watch a good cartoon like Arthur instead.

Overall 4/10

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