Reviewed by Jonathan Berk
Few film titles grab your attention and demand audiences to ask, “What in the world is this about?” more than Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose. Written and directed by Adam Sigal, the movie is based on a possibly true story set in 1935 London. Simon Pegg plays the famed paranormal psychologist Dr. Nandor Fodor, who travels with his assistant Anne (Minnie Driver) to investigate a family’s claim of a talking animal. Already a skeptic, Fodor is determined to find the truth but uncovers a series of questionable motives related to the supposed talking animal.
The performances in the film are exceptional, with Pegg leading the pack. His accent makes his voice almost unrecognizable as he becomes the Hungarian psychologist. He learns of the talking animal's existence by Dr. Harry Price (Christopher Lloyd). Lloyd is chewing the scenery and having a bit of fun with his smaller role, but the two play well off one another. Driver gives a humorous performance that also grounds the film a bit. Her character is also a skeptic, but not as committed as Fodor, creating an interesting dynamic as the film’s story moves forward.
Fans of other mystery comedies like Knives Out, See How They Run, or Amsterdam will find several familiar elements in Nandor. The mystery at the core of the story seems to inspire the film's aesthetic. The color palette, costuming, and cinematography generate a mysterious feeling that straddles the line between the supernatural and reality. Audience members will likely not find this movie to hit the highs of Knives Out, but it is better than the other two aforementioned films. Sigal plays well with the genre elements and blurs the supernatural aspects compellingly, all perfectly accented by the performances.
The talking animal in question is voiced by Neil Gaiman, whose voice performance adds another layer of mystique to the film. Lloyd informs Pegg of the talking mongoose and his first encounter with the family’s claim. His backstory outlines the mystery that Pegg will attempt to solve: Is the voice really coming from a mongoose? This is one of those films where it will be hard not to look up everything available on the character and this particular moment in his life. If audiences don’t find enjoyment in the mystery, the comedy, or the performances, perhaps they’ll find it in their exploration of the story on which Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose is based.
Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose will be in theaters on September 1.