Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Blu-ray EcoBox
Running Time: 1:39:11
|THE FEATURE||SPECIAL FEATURES|
|Video||AVC: 1080p high definition 1.78:1||Standard definition|
|Audio||DTS-HD Master Audio: English 1.0 / Dolby Digital: Spanish 1.0||Mono|
|Subtitles||English SDH, Spanish||English|
The Feature: 3.5/5Timid bookkeeper and ardent pescaphile Henry Limpet (Don Knotts) would love nothing more than to be a fish. As a fish, Limpet’s life would be carefree; as a human all he knows is disappointment and humiliation.
Hoping to serve his country and impress his wife Bessie (Carole Cook), Limpet signs up for the armed forces, but gets classified “4F” – unacceptable for military service. And then his blowhard of a friend George Stickel (Jack Weston) rolls into town on furlough from the Navy, boasting about his supposed military adventures while inching ever closer to Bessie.
Eventually, Limpet wishes hard enough to escape his miserable existence and becomes the creature he’s so long admired. And notwithstanding a few run-ins with some predators of the deep, it’s also everything he’d hoped it would be, complete with new friends (both platonic and romantic) and a rather unique defense mechanism.
Taking to his new environment like a – well, fish to water – Limpet is more than ready to settle in for the long haul, but then a critical discovery on the ocean floor, and the United States’ subsequent entry into WWII, reminds him he can’t separate himself from the land just yet.
As a man, Limpet may have been “4F,” but as a fish he’ll prove to be the Navy’s most secret (and rather unbelievable) weapon against the Nazis and their dreaded U-boats.
Essentially a reverse Little Mermaid story, “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” has its undeniable charms, not least of which is the incomparable Knotts who is equally effective in live action and animated fish forms. A great supporting cast also helps sell the script’s broad, TV sitcom-like humor, though the narrative could stand to be streamlined by about 15-20 minutes (the back-and-forth communication between Limpet and the Navy is clunky at best and the pacing in the climax is rather sluggish). Though the animation isn’t high caliber (and wasn’t even so back in the day), the appealing main character and his heroes’ journey make this somewhat underrated family movie worthy of introduction to a new generation of viewers.
Video Quality: 3.5/5Presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer approximates the 1.85:1 aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 frame. The picture’s major issue is one of consistency, with the live action material tending to fare better than the animated sequences, which are predominantly soft and murky looking (many scenes of both types do like quite good, however, with strong contrast, black levels, color depth, and all around detail). Considering the film’s vintage and likely lower production budget, the image problems are likely inherent to the source material. Fortunately, any attempts to remedy its shortcomings with digital processing tools have been applied with a light touch.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5Dialogue in the 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp and detailed, with no hint of strain or distortion. Though low frequency effects and surround activity are non-existent, the track has satisfying dynamic range and breadth in its sound stage.
Special Features: 2/5A handful of extras, ported from the previous DVD release, provide some glimpses into the promotional efforts and making of the film, though ultimately there’s not a great deal of depth.
Introduction by Don Knotts (2:47, SD): Knotts talks about his experience working on his first animated film and its initial critical and public reception.
Weekend at Weeki Wachi (10:25, SD): The vintage promotional piece describes the film’s premiere that took place in Weeki Wachi Springs, FL, where it was screened on a special underwater projection setup complete with mermaid attendants.
Mr. Limpet’s Fish Tank: Knotts comments on the film’s various characters and the actors portraying them.
- Bessie Limpet (:36, SD)
- George Stickel (:58, SD)
- Ladyfish (1:09, SD)
- Crusty (:56, SD)
- Limpetfish (1:10, SD)
RecapThe Film: 3.5/5
Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5
Warner Brothers’ charming, but a bit overlong, “fish in the water” movie receives a decent, true-to-source Blu-ray presentation from Warner Home Video. The bonus material is a bit meager, but includes some nice moments with Knotts as he reflects back on his first animated movie experience.