A Cute Ode To Inclusion: Our Review of ‘Butterfly Tale’

Posted in Movies by - October 10, 2023
A Cute Ode To Inclusion: Our Review of ‘Butterfly Tale’

Butterfly Tale is a new animated feature film about a flutter of Monarch Butterflies (cutest collective noun for any group of animals!). As we meet the flutter, they’re about to embark on their annual winter migration to Mexico. Many dangers await these Monarch Butterflies as they leave their home – the previous year, one of their community’s top strategic minds (yes, butterflies engage in strategic planning) was eaten by a bird while protecting his community.  A year later, the fluter is busily preparing for the harrowing journey, except Marty (Philip Wolf) the lone caterpillar who has yet to go through metamorphosis, and Patrick (Mena Massoud), a young butterfly who cannot actually fly.

The flutter’s leaders decide it would be best for Mardy and Patrick to skip the migration entirely. It was Patrick’s father who was killed by a bird in the previous migration. The incident was so scarring that Patrick’s mother insists her son not attempt the trip to Meixo to Mexico while she, who is herself the top flier, leads the flutter journey. But when Patrick and Mardy stow away in a milkweed trailer pulled by their hardworking peer, Jennifer (Tatiana Maslany), an adventure ensues!

Directed by Sophie Roy, Butterfly Tale is ultimately a film that illustrates the importance of inclusion in a way young viewers will understand.  While neither Patrick nor his buddy Mardy can fly, they do bring things to the table. Patrick helps Jennifer overcome her fear of heights (a phobia that is most inconvenient for someone who migrates by air). When the birds who ate his father discover flutter’s route, Patrick also proves instrumental to strategizing the Flutter’s escape. While not every butterfly has the same abilities, Butterfly Tale‘s message is clear: society does better when no one is left behind.

Another theme of Butterfly Tale is conservation. As the flutter continues on their migration, they notice the milkweed the feed on has become less common. In fact, their favourite milkweed patch of yore has been paved over to build a big box store, prompting one butterfly to comment, “You know humans, they put boxes everywhere.” The film provides a gentle reminder that the way people live impacts all sorts of tiny, beautiful creatures, including the butterflies children love to gaze up at in wonder.

While the pro-inclusion, pro-conservation themes found in Butterfly Tale are admirable and deftly woven into the film’s plot, its animation leaves something to be desired. A Canadian and German co-production, the animation often looks flat, lacking the realism and vibrancy of a Pixar Classic like Turning Red.  Still, if you’re seeking an animated adventure with good, heart-warming messaging, you could do worse than Butterfly Tale! 

This post was written by
Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Refinery29, Elle Canada, Flare, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-founder of The ProfessionElle Society. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about parenting, politics, and The Bachelor.
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