Butterfly Tale: Defying Expectations

Sometimes, the most surprising tales come from unexpected places.

In Butterfly Tale, Patrick (Mena Massoud) is a determined butterfly who wants to fly like everyone else. However, because of the shape of his wings, Patrick’s friends and family won’t let him live up to his potential. But when he partners with his best friend Marty (Philip Wolf) and the fierce Jennifer (Tatiana Maslany), the group step into an adventure that will help them face their fears and become the heroes that they want to be.

Directed by Sophie Roy, Butterfly Tale admittedly borrows a lot from other source materials but it still manages to flutter along on its own. From Antz to A Bug’s Life, it’s epic struggle against the terrifying birds feels a little familiar. Even so, the film remains lighthearted fun and keeps its tone energetic, making for some enjoyable family fare.

Surprisingly, what stands out in this Tale is its production. As their second animated effort after Katak: The Brave Beluga, Maison 4:3 takes a huge leap forward in the quality of their visuals. Like the butterflies themselves, Tale pops with rich colour palettes that actually surprise. Although the animation itself remains relatively simple, the film’s impressive shades and gradients add to the richness of the world that it creates. 

It’s also worth noting that Tale has done an excellent job with its soundtrack. By connecting with the music of Shawn Mendes, Tale’s music seems to have an extra spring in its step.

Performances within the film are solid, especially from stars Maslany and Massoud. Through their vocal performances as Patrick and Jennifer, the two veterans help bring their characters to life with enthusiasm. In many ways, Patrick serves as the film’s soul, seeking to find his place in a world that doesn’t fully accept him. As such, Massoud’s humility and charm help to keep his butterfly emotionally grounded. At the same time, Maslany is also clearly having some fun as the impetuous butterfly, giving her a spark and strength that works well on screen. 

However, the true joy of this Butterfly Tale lies in its intent. With an emphasis on defying the toxic ‘expectations’ of others, this is a film that seeks to empower kids from all walks of life. For example, in the case of Jennifer, we find a butterfly who lacks confidence in her own abilities. Expected to fly, Jennifer hides her fear of heights from others. Similarly, Patrick’s wings differ in strength and size, making it difficult for him to perform like everyone else. Even so, both characters soon discover the strength and resiliency that they have been missing. In this way, the film works hard to celebrate differences and empower young people who struggle with a negative self-image based on cultural standards. (And, with Patrick’s journey, Tale even manages to encourages youth with disabilities to celebrate who they are, and view their differences as what makes them special.)

Even in moments when Butterfly Tale may always fully take flight, its heart keeps it in the air. Featuring some truly beautiful colours and fun musical numbers, this becomes a Tale worth seeing.

Butterfly Tale is available in theatres on Friday, October 13th, 2023.

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