The Water Babies tells the story of a young chimney sweep, Tom. After being mistaken as a burglar, he runs away and finds himself in an underwater world filled with a host of anthropomorphic critters, including a Scottish Lobster, and a particularly nefarious shark who is holding the titular babies as prisoners. Tom, along with his new underwater friend, must save the babies, and find his way back to the real world above.
Hybrid films featuring a mixture of animation and live action were seemingly all the rage in the 1970s; animation heavyweights, Disney, released Bedknobs and Broomsticks in 1971, and Pete’s Dragon in 1977. Whilst not as well known or as widely available as the aforementioned Disney offerings, The Water Babies is an oddly charming fantasy affair, with a handful of memorable songs, and enough talking animals to shake a stick at!
Indeed these characters were probably the best thing for me; I mean who wouldn’t find a Scottish lobster, a scouse otter, and an incredibly camp seahorse entertaining? It’s very limited in story, and the acting, particularly from the younger stars, is pretty poor.
It’s a real film of contrasts! I found everything set in the real world incredibly dull, and the acting was really amateur. The “cor blimey guv’nor” cockney accent of the young lead however, really grated for me; it took me out of the story a lot of the time because it was just so laughably bad! However the animated world was much more interesting, and the voice cast was largely excellent.
I can’t say this is a film I would be in a rush to re-watch, but it’s pleasant enough, and the sort of film I could imagine having on in the background whilst enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon snooze. For those with fond memories of this film from their childhood, it might not hold the same magic as you remember, but it’s dated charm will undoubtedly invoke plenty of feelings of nostalgia!
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