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‘Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb’ and ‘Franz Kafka’ (NR)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 05, 1994

The hour-long, stop-action animated "The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb" is imaginatively crafted, but too simplistically written. Writer-director Dave Borthwick employs both actors and clay models to tell the wee protagonist's story. Tom, the result of artificial insemination run amok, is born to the doting Thumbs (Nick Upton and Deborah Collard), residents of a post-industrial, cockroach-infested slum. The sweet-faced preemie is swiftly torn away from his home and confined to a laboratory full of other piteous freaks; Thumb pere becomes a grief-stricken barfly, who just sits and stares at Tom's baby picture. Ultimately, this film is an endorsement of traditional family values.

"Franz Kafka: It's a Wonderful Life" is a droll 24-minute film about the writing bug. Mr. K (a hilarious Richard E. Grant) attempts to complete the first line of his novel "Metamorphosis" but is constantly interrupted by the celebrations of his downstairs neighbors on this spooky Christmas Eve. Peter Capaldi directed this delightfully improbable spoof, which, like the Borthwick film, also manages to be oddly heartwarming.

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