Don't You Forget About: FernGully: The Last Rainforest

Sure, it's fun to catch the latest flick at the multiplex, or grab the newest release at a video store, but sometimes you just gotta say, "Out with the new, and in with the unknown." There are plenty of older flicks out there that are worth a rental, but never registered on your radar. In Don't You Forget About, we remember the long-gone gems, so you don't have to.

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Remember that movie about the natives who lived in sacred trees whose lives were interrupted by a human intruder, working with a team to destroy their home forest for their own financial benefit? I mean, 17 years before Avatar hit the box office. This was even before Pocahontas showed us how to paint with all the colours of the wind. In 1992, FernGully: The Last Rainforest beat both these films to deliver its enviro-message.

This was exactly what made this film so ahead of its time. We all heard the dissenters following Al Gore's pleas in An Inconvenient Truth. More than a decade earlier, you can imagine how much tougher it was to get the message across. But speaking to little children with hungry minds to feed was a clever approach, especially when most children's films at the time were about princesses. Ok, so this film didn't steer clear from of romance either, at least this relationship was somewhat bi-racial. Y'know, fairy-human love.

In the last existing rain forest in the world lives a community of fairies, who believe that humans have become extinct. Of course, they aren't. And they're about to deforest the fairy world. But when fairy Crysta (Samantha Mathis) test her magic out on human Zak (Jonathan Ward) and shrinks him down to fairy size, there's a glimmer of hope (there kind of needs to be in a kids' movie).

What helps making this film enchanting is its use of light and colour, creating interesting shadows and beams, much like Avatar, but far less advanced. Fairies flicker through the forest with glowing blue and green trails, the sun shoots through branches and leaves and the forest is vibrant with flowers.

There's also darkness in a purely evil, slithery force. Years ago, elder Magi Lune (Grace Zabriskie) trapped Hexxus (Tim Curry) in a tree but when deforesters slice the tree down, his gooey, dark being is brought back to life. And as a dark, billowing creature with hollow white eyes, he's almost as frightening as The Nightmare Before Christmas' Oogie Boogie. Curry's rich voice is the perfect compliment.

Curry's big name isn't the only one selling the film either. Christian Slater, Robin Williams, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong and Tone Loc all also lend their voices. And a few of them sing too.

The soundtrack is a mix of very bland and very interesting, absolutely nothing in between. One of the high points of the film is William's rap as Batty the bat. Ok, it sounds really awkward but it's actually kind of funny and you'll wish it lasted longer. Wilson Pickett's Land of 1000 Dances is also a great touch to the film. You'll probably find yourself singing it days later.

You also probably won't be able to help yourself from making totally legitimate Avatar comparisons. To get you started: theme, lighting, plot. While they're both aimed at very different audiences, the common threads are undeniable. And with Avatar's colossal success, there's even more reason to re-watch FernGully.

With a wide range of appeal and relevance to this day, it's a film for parents, children and children at heart. It's also a reminder that not all children's films have to be subliminally sexualized.

Naa, na-na na-naa...

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