Mungo is a young mole due to begin work at his proud father’s side in their hometown’s legendary gold mine. Mungo secretly dreams of becoming a professional soccer player, however, Mungo sadly resigns himself to life as a miner. When the mine is forced to shut down after a mysterious accident, an evil and gold-obsessed supervillain known only as ‘The Boss’, attempts to bully the townsfolk into selling him the mine. Against all odds and with a little help from his crazy friends, Mungo begins an epic adventure of thrills, laughs, action and danger, as he hurtles towards the Wild Cup football finals in Russia and a final, breathtaking showdown with ‘The Boss.’
If you’re looking for a title for a movie that creates an unlikely pairing — a love of soccer and a family tradition of mining — “Strike” might be the word you choose. This is a movie played out entirely in the animated animal kingdom, in which Mungo Morrison, a mole, is expected to follow in the family tradition of working in the Diggington gold mine, where the goal is to “strike” gold, as opposed to his unrealized passion of being a “striker” for England’s Wild Cup-pursuing soccer team. See what they did there?
Early in the movie, as his first day working at the mine is about to dawn, Mungo tells his mother that his desire to be a “footballer” — what they call a soccer player on the other side of the pond — isn’t “just a dream. It’s more like a sign or a vision. I’m going to be a hero!” Trouble is, the mining tradition passed down from great-grandfather to grandfather to father is squarely at odds with Mungo’s vision. Even some of his friends throw a wet blanket on his dream, telling him that because England’s team is full of “gazelles, bears, cheetahs and elephants and you’re a mole,” there’s no chance it will come to pass.
It becomes apparent that one of the themes this movie will teach young ones is how to hold fast to your dreams in the face of opposition — just as many people who are household names on the world stage did. Mungo believes he will one day be a star. His father, Garth, steadfastly believes there’s still gold to be found, even though none has been discovered in five years, or as one character more precisely states, “five years, three months and 23 days.” Though nobody explicitly teaches what it means to walk by faith and not by sight — moles, it should be noted, are notoriously poor-sighted creatures — the undertone is unmistakable.
Worse yet, there’s a mole (a spy) among the moles (burrowing animal). A sinister James Bond villain-type cat known simply as “The Boss” — aided by a henchman and henchwoman reminiscent of Boris and Natasha from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons — has hatched a nefarious plot to pounce on the mine’s misfortune. If the mine can’t produce gold, it can’t pay back the bank and if it can’t pay back the bank, then foreclosure looms.
The movie pivots on an explosion at the mine that inexorably alters Mungo’s family dynamic. Was it just an accident or insidious incident? Whatever you may conclude about the explosion, it creates an improbable happenstance in which Mungo’s soccer skills are put on the Internet and his talents are discovered. If England’s going to have a chance against Germany, it’s going to need Mungo to put legs to his dream. Now, the only question becomes, can he find a way to use his fortune to try to bail the mine out of its misfortune?
The surrounding characters provide comic relief from the tension, and there’s only one prominent instance of language being a mild concern, when one of Mungo’s friends tells him, “You completely suck.” The overarching impression this movie likely will leave with young viewers is positive and as such merits the Dove-approved seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
Currently unrated but probably worthy of PG status, this entertaining animated animal kingdom movie could very well help your child develop the kind of stubborn streak that a parent could love.