Osborne's creative control is abundant throughout The Little Prince, and yet it's also clear that he completely trusted his team of cast and crew to stretch their imagination beyond limits. The Little Girl's story is computer-generated and portrays a setting of workaholic adults (all business workers) who follow the same routines day after day after day. The Little Girl's mother, starring Rachel McAdams in her animated feature film debut, is also in this boat and wants her daughter to be just as successful, going so far as to make a whole life plan for her to follow for years. It's an original idea of exploring this strained relationship between mother and daughter, especially when the latter wants to be creative and explore with her imagination more and more as the film goes on.
Similar to Kung Fu Panda is the use of multiple types of animation to portray different elements of the story, and this once again works to its advantage. The little prince's journey is done through stop-motion, faithful to the short novel and just as expressive. Regardless of the new story, there is a lot of love and respect shown for this material, painstakingly and carefully brought to life like a painter with their brush, or a musician with their craft. It's a sheer spectacle filled with memorable images and breathtaking moments.
The ensemble cast is top-notch, too. Rachel McAdams is perfect as The Little Girl's mother, vividly capturing the controlling and rigorous nature of her character while also trying to do what she feels is best for her daughter. Mackenzie Foy as The Little Girl embodies that perfect feeling of youthfulness and innocence put to the test with learning how to grow up, while Jeff Bridges as the aviator is kind and warm-hearted as a quasi-father figure to The Little Girl. The Little Prince himself (Riley Osborne in his debut and Mark Osborne's son) is portrayed just as innocently and full of wonder, as he too experiences feelings and emotions he doesn't quite understand. There's wonderful cameos from the likes of Ricky Gervais, Albert Brooks, and James Franco as the beloved fox the little prince tames, and they don't easily distract from the main plot of the movie.
If there is anything that doesn't work in The Little Prince, the third act does feel inconsistent and mildly disappointing. There are clever twists which are built up and delivered with excellent payoffs, albeit a tad bit confusing at times. The pacing feels off during a few transitional moments and the buildup to the climax doesn't have as much of an impact as it should be. However, it's cleverly masked by this stunning visual imagery and adheres more to its basic themes of facing truth and learning to grow up.
The Little Prince is a wonderful film that captures the essence of its story and tells it in such a youthful way that all age groups can relate to. Its added material is important, does not distract from its source material, and enhances the story endearingly and beautifully. The look and tone is distinctive and memorable, even if the CGI at times is not on par with more recent animated movies. More importantly, The Little Prince hits all of the right notes and wholeheartedly embraces its timeless story for a new generation to experience.