Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pa Balta Furgona Pedam (On the Trail of the White Lorry)

Children. 1991.
Directed by Olegs Rozenbergs.
Written by Alvis Lapins.
Starring: Kalvis Berzins, Janis Pencis and Normunds Apinis.

The beauty of children's films as a genre, and one of its major drawbacks, at least for adult viewers, is that the suspension of disbelief is a given. Children have no problem with accepting things and situations that adults would question.
"Pa Balta Furgona Pedam" (On the Trail of the White Lorry) succeeds, and fails, due to this simple quirk. Furgons has all the elements of a rollicking tale; hidden treasure, Saint Bernard puppies, cute kids, mystery, chases and adult villains that make Cruela DeVille seem nice. Sadly the acting, mostly of the adult cast, is so hammy that for adults it will be difficult to look past it. Kids on the other hand will probably enjoy the film for what it is, a simple tale of good over evil.
Three neighborhood friends in early post-Soviet Latvia have their eyes on a litter of Saint Bernard puppies. The problem is that the owner of the puppies isn't willing to just simply give them away. This is the newly independent capitalist Latvia and for each thing there is a price. A price that the kids can't meet, but the main bad guy who earns part of his living by selling Saint Bernard fur hats can. When the kids discover some pieces of jewelry hidden in the frame of an old bed salvation seems near at hand. Then the bed disappears. And the chase is on.
The kids are great in their roles doing the things that kids do. Unfortunately, the over emoting adult cast drags the film so far down that even the kids performances can't raise it back up.

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