The Irish-co-produced animated film 'The Ugly Duckling and Me' follows the adventures of greedy rodent Ratso the Ruthless and his unlikely sidekick, an ugly duckling simply dubbed Ugly. A reworking of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, the film is updated for the 21st century with a generous dose of quips to appeal to adults and children alike.
When Ratso unexpectedly ends up in a duck yard with hostile inhabitants, he is forced to play surrogate father to a stray egg which hatches into an affectionate, grey-furred duckling. Ratso plays along with the fatherly charade, all the while planning his escape through digging an elaborate hole in the ground.
Ratso forces Ugly onstage to perform in front of the duck yard as a diversion when he is escaping. The poor duckling is laughed off the stage, knocking his already fragile confidence.
When Ratso realises Ugly's circus potential as a laughing stock, he comes back to get him. Off they go on the road to the carnival, where Ratso sets his sights on being "The best thing to hit the carnival since the big wheel fell over" with his newest protégé, the ugliest duckling in the world.
They come into scrapes along the way, encountering a ravenous fox with a sharp, quivering mouth, and an evil toothed salmon. Unbeknownst to them danger is never far behind, as they are feverishly perused by highly-strung rat Esmeralda and her hulking, but dumb henchmen.
An engaging plot is brought to life with CG animation that can be startlingly beautiful. There are some fantastic sweeping shots of a high speed train and the underwater shots of the salmon are suitably menacing. Unfortunately the dialogue and jokes let the film down in parts. It is aiming to strike a balance between the sense of humour of children and adults, but the script just isn't sharp enough.
A sweet film with a big heart, but not quite as funny as it thinks it is.