For adults it will be the fun of revisiting those school days, finding mature humor even in the cuteness of childhood and also some small punches here and there to improve you. And for kids, it’s simple fun and also some advices that they won’t mind listening to. Philips and the monkey pen directed by Rojin Philip and Shanil Muhammed is that kid’s film which has some endearing moments and appealing humor to satisfy its audience if they are sensible enough to adjust their mindset. Without making it a feast of preaches, the new makers have done a really appreciable job by creating this film which is cute, funny and also focused.
The story here has our central protagonist Ryan Philip. Ryan isn’t that smart in class and the naughty boy has some serious issues with mathematics. Born to a Muslim mother and a Christian father, Ryan’s family really cares for him. With the entry of a monkey pen which he gets from his grandfather, some serious changes start to happen in Ryan’s life. The events leading to these changes, the impact of the monkey pen and how it modifies the character of Ryan is what basically this movie trying to narrate.
Much like many other films targeting the child audience, Philips and the Monkey pen also has this fantasy factor at the center of it to keep it attractive for kids. But the interesting thing I felt was in the story which keeps this fantasy a reality with some good twists and turns that can have a sweet impact even on the adult in you. By the time that small suspense is unveiled, the sweetness behind the magic starts to appear and that’s where Philip and the monkey pen manages to attract the pessimistic hearts. The importance of parental guidance, the role of a good teacher, the significance of saying the truth etc are included in a way that’s less preachy. The mixing of this kind of advices or knowledge’s with realistic humor is something cool about the writing of the film. The reaction of the parents after hearing the doubt of their son about the religion and taste of God, the reaction of the students after seeing the drastic change of their short tempered teacher etc are some good examples of this mix.
The kids are the definitely the stars here as the film largely focuses on their emotions. Master Sanoop has done a fabulous job in portraying the role of Ryan Philip. The boy has got the emotions correctly and that charm which we have seen in his sister is definitely there to entertain us. The other child artists were also really good in their characters, especially the one who played the character Juguru. The boy’s expressions were so cute and hilarious that some of the viewers jumped from their seats laughing. The girl who played the role of Joan was also quite adorable. Jayasurya was really fitting as the slightly immature but still concerned cool dad. Remy Nambeesan was good in her Muslim avatar and Vijay Babu was also nice as the teacher. Mukesh, Joy Mathew, Innocent and Sasi Kalinga are there doing cameo roles in this film and they have all done complete justice to their characters.
In the making, the directors have really used their child artists to the maximum. No scene was over dramatic and they have maintained that cuteness in almost all sequences. The script is a bit shivery at the beginning portions, but it got that rhythm and mixing of emotions properly in the later parts. Converting the pain of first love into a socially relevant topic was a nice idea. That cute love letter sequence and the class monitoring sequences are really worth remembering. The film is not devoid of flaws and I felt it mainly in the dialogs. Films like Taare Zameen Par works big time simply because of the fact that they maintain a level of innocence and realism in the child characters. Sadly the dialogs written for the child artists were slightly over the top which annoys the flow occasionally. The frames are beautiful enough to engage you. Edits are neat and the background score was also quite nice. The tunes are worth listening. The animations were impressive.
Overall, Philips and the monkey pen has enough to keep you happy. It’s a film made from the perspectives of children and the flaws are quite less from the debutant film makers. For a film that demands a liberal evaluation, my rating along with some moderation is 3.5/5. Thumbs up.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended