Rated G - Running time: 1:25 - Released 5/15/98

In order to compete with Disney's upcoming summer release Mulan, Warner Brothers has thrown together a cute but flawed cartoon movie with a similar premise: a young girl who wants to be a warrior. Though Quest For Camelot boasts a powerful list of big-name actors' voices, and there is really no problem with their characterizations, the story seems choppy and lacks flow.

King Arthur (Pierce Brosnan) has lost his most trusted knight, Sir Lionel (Gabriel Byrne), in a battle. Sir Lionel's daughter Kaylee (Jessalyn Gilsig, sung by Andrea Corr) wants to follow in her late father's footsteps and become a knight of the Round Table, and when Arthur's sword Excalibur is stolen by the evil Sir Ruber (Gary Oldman), she gets her chance. Ruber abducts her and her mother (Jane Seymour, sung by Celine Dion), and plans to enter Camelot using them as a front-door pass.

But Ruber's plans go awry: Kaylee escapes and Excalibur is lost in the mysterious enchanted forest. So Kaylee goes to find it, and Ruber goes to find her. Along her way, she meets a blind hermit named Garrett (Cary Elwes, sung by Bryan White), and a silly, two-headed dragon (Eric Idle and Don Rickles). As Ruber and his wicked minions pursue them, they search for the sword which will bring order back to Camelot, stopping every so often to belt out a tune.

The animation in this movie does not live up to its vocal characterizations. The action is often jerky and hastily produced, and I found many moments when I actually could not tell what was going on because of the visual sloppiness. The story is littered with lost threads; there are contradictions in character and in previously established plot elements. Although there are a few memorable songs, penned by David Foster and Carol Bayer Sager, most of them lack the sparkle we have come to expect from Disney or Bluth, and some of the poetry doesn't "scan" very well. What's more, the singing voices of the characters are so badly mismatched with their speaking voices it's impossible not to notice that someone else has taken over.

Don't get me wrong; I'm sure kids will love it. They'll watch anything animated, and the movie does have its good points. The forest, for instance, contains many interesting concepts involving plants that seem to have minds of their own, and the humor sequences do occasionally produce a chuckle, even from a grown-up. This movie is definitely no better than average as animated features go, but at least it'll produce some bonding material for when you're driving home discussing it with your 4-year-old. **½

Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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