Pros: GREAT story, terrific animation, memorable music, magical and utterly delightful!
Cons: A couple of very mild curse words...WHY??
"The Last Unicorn" is a lovely fable sure to enchant and delight those of us who love fairytales and somewhere, deep inside, still believe in magic. But before you allow your horse/unicorn-loving 5-year-old daughter to watch it, be warned that, despite the G rating, there are a couple of instances of very mild curse words. WHY?? It was not necessary to the story at all, in my opinion. Of course, the great thing about video is that, after previewing a film, you can always turn the sound down, fast forward, or talk with your child about why whatever was said/done is unacceptable. Assuming that you watch WITH your child, that is, and in this case, you ought to, because you will have a wonderful time.
The basic plot of "The Last Unicorn" follows a somewhat standard fairytale formula, involving enchantment and something being turned into something else, etc. The Last Unicorn, while in search of the others of her kind who are being held captive by King Hagard and his Red Bull, is herself captured by an evil sorceress who deludes people into believing that lions are manticores and so on. Her circus of illusions is not entirely made up of fake mythological creatures, however - the Unicorn IS real, and so is the Harpy. Schmendrick the magician, reluctant witch's apprentice, can see that, though he doesn't let on.
Schmendrik and Molly Grue, who has waited all of her life to find a unicorn, rescue Unicorn from the witch's clutches, but when they come close to Hagard's castle, the Red Bull tries to head them off at the pass and Schmendrick quickly turns Unicorn into a human girl named Amalthea. He's not a very GOOD magician, but the king hires him as a sort of jester and Molly as a cook. Of course the king is not at all fooled by Amalthea's disguise, but the plot thickens when his son, Prince Lir, falls for her.
Of course there is a happy ending to this romantic fantasy, and the Last Unicorn, along with the other unicorns, is set free and so on. I was about 14 when this film originally came out, and I found it thrilling since, like most young girls at that time, I was fairly unicorn-obsessed. I still love fantasy, and "The Last Unicorn" has that wonderful blend of magic and romance that make fairy tales so great. It also has some good music, the main title sung by the group America and memorized by me after repeated viewings of the film. If you like the song, it can be found on Kenny Loggins' "Return to Pooh Corner" CD. The sheer poetry of it would be enough: "look and see her, how she shimmers..." but the tune is lovely and haunting and quite singable.
The animation in "Unicorn" is not of the quality that we see today, but it's good, about the quality of my beloved "Charlotte's Web", or even slightly better. Will kids like it? Absolutely. I have shown it at school several times and so has my husband, and the response was favorable. He teaches high school and uses it as part of a unit on legends and fairy tales; I teach first grade and use it for entertainment on rainy days. It seems to have appeal for all ages. After all, most of us never outgrow that childhood wish to find a unicorn, and you'll be glad you found this one!