Earlier this year, I attended a Walt Disney World press event at that promoted the upcoming film Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue. 15 year old Zoe Periale won a contest by creating a unique fairy house which was then displayed for the remainder of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.
Producer Helen Kalafatic and Director Bradley Raymond were also present at the media event and enthusiastically discussed the film, which is the third in a series of four films that revolve around a season – "Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue" is the summer-inspired film.
Fast forward to September, we'd been trying to get into a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder screening of "Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue". I still have not seen the first Tinker Bell film, and only a portion of the second. We were actually unsuccessful in getting into a screening to begin with, encountering many site glitches before seeing that they were all sold out. Then just a couple of days prior to the screening, a friend saw that there were seats available and signed us all up (thanks again John!)
Arriving at Disney's Hollywood Studios, signs pointed the way to the screening. We were given a soda, a snack, and later a small goodie bag. Disney artist and historian Stacia Martin entertained us after the film with her artistic talent while everyone waited to meet Tinker Bell and Vidia, who were presented onstage. It was a very nice way to see a movie, one that I didn't have particularly high expectations for (I don't watch a lot of straight-to-DVD films).
Previews were shown before the main event. Secretariat was the best of the lot for me. There were a couple of talking dog movies, a trailer I'd already seen for the Rapunzel film "Tangled" and one for the classic movie "Beauty and the Beast" in a Diamond Edition. We also were shown "Design a Fairy House", an extra on the Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue DVD which gives a brief look at the fairy house contest I'd mentioned at the start of this article. I even saw myself in the footage (from the back).
Now for the film….(with minor spoilers):
The story revolves around a young, English girl named Lizzie (Lauren Mote) who has a penchant for fairies – much to her father, Dr. Griffith's chagrin (voiced by Michael Sheen). He is into facts and science, maybe played just a little too strongly (I got the point early on). Dr. Griffith wants his daughter focusing on what can be proved, not dreaming and believing in what she hasn't seen. Lizzie's room is filled with fairy drawings, and she even creates a fairy house from an oatmeal box (note: a replica of it was displayed at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival).
The fairy house creates a turning point in the story. Vidia has pleaded with Tinker Bell to stay away from humans, but Tinker Bell doesn't listen. Tinker Bell is quickly smitten with this cardboard house that includes a "Welcome Fairies" sign, to the point where she's oblivious until captured inside it (with a little unattended help from Vidia). Tinker Bell is carried by Lizzie into the family home, where Dr. Griffith has pinned butterflies to cork boards for his research. A recently captured butterfly in a jar looks doomed for the same fate, and an enormous cat seems to have an equally large appetite for fairies.
Where the story really shines is in the growing friendship between Lizzie and Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell can understand Lizzie, but not the other way around – and Tinker Bell needs to express thoughts (and even to tell Lizzie her name) in sometimes amusing ways that aren't verbal. The two bond over a field journal that Dr. Griffith has given Lizzie for scientific research, and they fill it together to present to him in hopes of winning his approval.
The "rescue" part of the story happens as Vidia gathers all the other pixies to retrieve Tinker Bell. The bulk of the film has little to do with them, but the friends eventually do arrive (in a rainstorm) to help Lizzie show her father that all it takes is a little "Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust" to believe in what he's never seen – until now.
I highly recommend "Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue". The animation is gorgeous and vibrant, although I felt the fairy movements were more believable and fluid than those of the human characters. The film is often predictable – but it's a moving story of friendship that I could relate to and I'm a little surprised that it wasn't released in the theaters. It translated well to a bigger screen.