Opening: Toys in the Attic

Directed by Jirí Barta and adapted in English by Vivian Schilling, this Czech animated film illustrates why strong stories and characterizations are crucial to animated features — without them, the most ingenious techniques fall flat. The film, which features whimsical stop-motion animation, is about a group of neglected toys living in an old attic trunk. The pretty doll Buttercup (voiced by Schilling) is beloved by her friends, including a marionette named Sir Handsome (Cary Elwes), Teddy Bear (Forest Whitaker), and Mechanical Mouse Madame Curie (Joan Cusack). When Buttercup is kidnapped and taken to the Land of Evil – presided over by a sadistic Head of State (Douglas Urbanski) — her friends launch a daring rescue mission. The animation is charming and superbly imaginative, but the narrative is uninvolving. The film loses something in translation, both in its poorly recorded English dubbing and its simplistic evocation of Czech revolutionary history. It's unclear what audience the film is for; its picture-book images might briefly beguile children and animation buffs, but its indifferent narrative and characters are unlikely to sustain interest for long. Capitol Theatre, 7 p.m. Tuesday.