Ewan McGregor seems to have spent most of 2004 in a recording studio, first delivering the voice of Rodney Copperbottom in Robots, and then voicing the hero of Valiant, a British animated feature.
Here, thankfully, he drops the faux-American accent to play a plucky British pigeon who joins the Royal Homing Pigeon Service during World War II. This wing (pardon the pun) of the British military actually existed in a sense, as homing pigeons were used to transport messages between the Allied Forces and some were even awarded medals for their dedication to duty.
It’s a very British story of bravery and stiff upper beaks as Valiant and his chubby pal Bugsy (voiced by Ricky Gervais) endure six tough weeks of training before they are despatched on their first mission to France. There are bad guys, too, in the form of deadly falcons (one voiced deliciously by Tim Curry), and while adults will get tons of fun from spotting the famous voices (including John Cleese, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Williams, Hugh Laurie and Rik Mayall), younger viewers will be enchanted by the fun story and slick animation – and they may even learn a bit of British history, too.
Is Valiant suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...