Postman Pat: The Movie – When a move to faceless automation at the Special Delivery Service means that Postman Pat won’t get the bonus needed to pay to take his family to Italy on holiday, he is forced to turn to the national talent contest: ‘You’re The One’. Everyone is surprised by Pat’s immediate success and popularity, but with corporate forces desperate to use Pat’s good image to replace the local postman with emotionless robots, will Pat’s holiday ambitions be dashed when his family can’t tell the robot from the real thing?
Postman Pat: The Movie (2014) – Director: Mike Disa
Running Length: 98 mins
Starring: Stephen Mangan, David Tennant, Jim Broadbent, Peter Woodward
Genre: Comedy / Drama
The much-loved British children’s TV series, ‘Postman Pat’ gets a big screen outing and a plot line that takes him beyond little village worries of stuck sheep and town bake sales. Instead, the iconic Postie is plonked into an achingly modern tale of corporate greed, media management, and talent show crash-and-burn character arcing. The result is somewhat mixed. The movie itself is wry, satirical, boasting some genuine laughs, and has as much post action as you could want! But despite the knowing smiles afforded to an adult watching ‘Postman Pat: The Movie’ is wry and satirical really what the target audience of small children are going to enjoy?
Postman Pat’s usual backdrop of small village worries is brushed aside here. The plot revolves around Pat’s entry into a clear ‘X-Factor’ style show and his being swept away by the fame and obligations that come with it. Little does he know that his rounds are being undertaken by robot doppelgangers who are achingly efficient but lacking the human touch that Pat is so loved for in Greendale. This set up allows for many subtle gags about the superficiality of modern celebrity but this is hardly an angle that is going to connect with the usual child audience of 3 to 5 year olds! When the final act of the movie introduces an army of ‘Pat-bots’ who inevitably succumb to evil commands and march on the public with red glowing eyes – whilst spouting fixed grin efficiency corporate speak – the movie actually strays very close to being too scary for the small children who are used to tales of stuck sheep and delayed train deliveries.
Despite a wonky approach to tone, Postman Pat: The Movie still has all the charm of the TV series and Pat’s usual naïve affability wins through even during the surprising evil robot postal army. The movie is short and snappy; no scene is wasted as the narrative moves towards the tried and testing anchors of child movies (set up, misunderstanding, clash, resolution). Postman Pat goes ‘home’ to Greendale enough to remain familiar to children already sold on village postal tales and the tongue-in-cheek poking of modern celebrity culture is sure to raise some surprised chuckles from parents (a scene with an unexpected Dalek grabbed us in particular) so if your child enjoys this film then you are on to a winner. But with corporate humour and an army of ‘evil’ Pats swamping the third Act, ‘Postman Pat: The Movie’ dangerously straddles the land between too scary for under 4s but too childish for over 5s.
IS POSTMAN PAT: THE MOVIE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
There is an ‘X-Factor’ style talent show with ‘Simon Cowbell’ as a judge called ‘You’re The One’. One Irish contestant comes on and Simon insults him by implying that he is backward and rural. Confused, the man asks ‘Am I through to the next round?” to which Simon replies “If we were playing Russian Roulette”.
Wilf is the manager of Josh, a young contestant in the talent show. Wilf exclaims “I swindled a lot of old ladies to pay for your singing lessons!”
After visiting the office with Pat and the others, Mr Carbunkle (the greedy manager of the Special Delivery Service) leaves to visit the CEO, Mr Brown. Mr Brown says to imagine that he is an old uncle. Mr Carbunkle replies ‘my uncle was eaten by dingos’. He says this flippantly and is not upset.
Mr Carbunkle wants to change how things work at the SDS, interested only in profit. He plays a video tape where he has been testing out replacing post delivery workers with robots. In the clip it is clearly him filming and he is directing his mother to answer the door. When she does, a very threatening style robot is trying to force a letter into her hands and she screams in fear. Although this is done with a comedy angle, Mr Carbunkle makes her open the door to an increasing succession of scary robots and she screams louder each time so children who may get upset by a distressed old lady might not enjoy this scene.
During a talk show that goes a little awry, when the cameras cut the host storms off and complains that they should never book “children, authors or Scotsman!” This anti-Scottish sentiment is a little surprising!
When Pat is competing in ‘You’re The One’, his rounds are being covered by a robot designed to look and talk like Pat. No-one else knows about this. However, Carbunkle uses the Pat-Bot’s ‘increased efficiency’ as an excuse to fire the rest of the SDS staff. He does this by instructing the Pat-Bot to fire Ben and Pat’s other’s colleagues. Ben and the staff are hurt and upset as they think Pat is firing them. Julian, Pat’s son, pleads with the Pat Bot but is brushed aside. He is heartbroken. There is also a robotic Jess the cat which has metal needle point teeth and looks menacingly at the crowd.
When Pat goes to London to take part in the ‘You’re The One’ finals his wife (Sara) and son refuse to go with him. He is upset and leaves the house very sad. Sara wipes away a tear as she and Julian watch him be driven away. Even Jess the cat snubs him.
Wilf has been setting traps for the Pat-Bot whilst unaware it is a robot. He eventually drops a very heavy crate on ‘Pat’ and another on ‘Jess’ and shows all signs of glee that he has apparently crushed them to death. However when the robots emerge Wilf inadvertently holds a large magnet up to ‘Pat’ which causes sparks to fly and a panel to burst open. Our 3-year-old could not differentiate between the robot Pat and the real Pat so this moment caused some concern and had to be explained.
Pat is having doubts about competing in the final so Carbunkle decides to replace him with a Pat-Bot (we have now seen that he has made dozens of them). Earlier the Pat-Bots had wide fixed grins and blue eyes, but now the eyes glow red and the Pat-Bot frowns in a menacing way. Pat is thrown into a dressing room and locked away.
In an effort to stop Pat, Carbunkle activates an ‘army’ of ‘evil’ robot Pats. They all have fixed grins and glowing red eyes and advance menacingly on Pat. Pat is unnerved and flees. He is also chased by the ‘evil’ robot Jess which grins with sharp teeth and shoots lasers out of its eyes. This whole ending section could be scary for children considering the amount of evil Pats on-screen! Other characters are scared of them and they encircle Pat and other characters, advancing with outstretched arms. This is cut with other moments of Jess trying to escape ‘robot Jess’.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘POSTMAN PAT: THE MOVIE’ FOR KIDS?
Even with sideway glances and self-aware references (such as Carbunkle manically exclaiming that next there will even be ‘computer generated movies!!’) this is still Postman Pat at the core and children will warm to the time-tested pull of everyone’s favourite postie. But despite raising some unexpected laughs for adults, most of the clever parts will be beyond the comprehension of young children. Older children will not likely be interested in Postman Pat, but the normal younger audience may be unnerved by the scary parts, unable to tell the robot Pats from the real thing. For that reason would say that Postman Pat: The Movie is suitable for children aged 3 and above but we would recommend adult supervision for ages between 3 – 5 to be sure that the ‘robot’ scenes do not upset.
- Violence: 1/5 (Wilf tries to harm what he believes is Pat by setting up potentially dangerous traps)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (Pat’s family and friends are upset when ‘Pat’ ignores them. Pat is sad when his family don’t support him)
- Fear Factor: 2/5 (the robot Pats can be scary as they have fixed ‘evil’ expressions and glowing red eyes)
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 0/5
- Dialogue: 1/5 (some mild, tongue-in-cheek anti-Irish and anti-Scottish implications. Some lines likely to go over young children’s heads, such as an uncle being eaten by dingoes)
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of wanting to provide for your family, the human touch verses cold efficiency, losing jobs to automation, keeping true to yourself and your friends, getting seduced by fame, and modernisation.
Words by Mike Record