SUMMARY: A young boy, known as Uncle Fyodor due to his serious demeanour, leaves home when he is not allowed to have a cat and sets up his own home with a cat, dog and bird in the village of Prostokvashino.
WHY IT’S HERE: Vladamir Popov’s ‘Three from Prostokvashino’ is a delightful adaptation of the popular Russian children’s books by Eduard Uspensky, who also provided the source material for Roman Kachanov’s classic ‘Cheburashka’ shorts. Sharing the same warm but witty tone, ‘Three from Prostokvashino’ is animated with charming simplicity and its story is so easy going and enjoyable that it is impossible not to get drawn in. Realism is not a factor here. Quite apart from talking animals, the protagonists of ‘Three from Prostokvashino’ are perhaps the luckiest protagonists in animation history! They go looking for a home and find an abandoned house with a sign that invites anyone who wants to live there to do so free of charge. They find they need money so they go treasure hunting and immediately find treasure! These convenient plot points are dropped in with a knowing wink and it’s a breath of fresh air to enjoy some time in a world where everything goes right. The characters in ‘Three from Prostokvashino’ are all wonderfully realised too. The vain cat Matroskin, the friendly dog Sharik, the mean and nosy mailman Pechkin and Uncle Fyodor’s parents all have great moments. Perhaps my favourite is the argument between the parents in which the mother tells the father he must choose between her and the cat. The laid back father casually shrugs “OK, I choose you. I’ve known you for a long time already but I see this cat for the first time!”