Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand was an instant smash upon its publication in 1936, even outselling Gone with the Wind and becoming the year’s best seller in the United States. Still, the slim volume hardly seems to have enough meat to facilitate a feature-length effort. However, there’s no revenue stream that Hollywood won’t milk, and the people who brought us the Ice Age franchise have found a way of taking a book that was once burned by the Nazis as propaganda and turning it into a safe and simple family film that goes out of its way to place its bull protagonist into a literal china shop.
On its sleek, gloomy surface, it would appear that Kaleidoscope, from director Rupert Jones, would have all the makings of a commanding psychological thriller. Aside from its preoccupation with the work of Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski, the film also boasts a subdued lead with a checkered past, an overbearing mother (played by beloved English actress Anne Reid), a mysterious corpse, and a nosy passerby who pries into the affairs of others. Sadly, the glue that holds them together isn’t savvy enough to create a structure that is anything more than a run-off-the-mill, boilerplate whodunit.