Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose
September 8th, 2023
MOVIE: NANDOR FODOR AND THE TALKING MONGOOSE
STARRING: SIMON PEGG, MINNIE DRIVER, CHRISTOPHER LLOYD, PAUL KAYE
DIRECTED BY: ADAM SIGAL
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The subject of Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose is about what a person is willing to believe. Like any tall tale or mythical story, like any religion or conspiracy theory, there is eventually something that reels you in, and director Adam Sigal isn’t interested in getting to the bottom of fact or fiction, but more so in how a story can grow. Have you ever seen an animal talk like a human? Not a dog saying “bark”, but truly witnessed an animal talk? That is the question at hand, in a somewhat true story, about a paranormal expert who is called to the Isle of Man to see for himself if a talking mongoose named “Gef” really does exist. What he finds and audiences as well is an equally funny and enlightening experience in the surprisingly delightful Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose.
Our lead character is Nandor Fodor (played spot-on by Simon Pegg), a man who studies the paranormal or odd occurrences, and someone with one hell of a name. His assistant is Ann (Minnie Driver), a gentle person, often waiting at the office to get Nandor a drink and read him recent letters requesting his services. He doesn’t want to hear all the letters, in fact, “only give me a summary” as he states. As one could imagine Nandor is a skeptic and is often ready to dismiss any claims. When he receives a letter from old friend and scientist Dr. Harry Price (Christopher Lloyd) his ears perk up and when he tells him of a family that claims to have a talking mongoose in their home, Nandor can’t wait to get there to prove them wrong.
The family is the Irvings, a happy triangle of Mr. Irving (Tim Downie) Mrs. Irving (Ruth Connell), and daughter Voirrey (Jessica Balmer), with a farm of sheep, and a mongoose that is gripping the small town. The one part that has Nandor questioning is that Voirrey is a trained ventriloquist, easy for someone to pretend that an animal is talking, but it’s not that clear. And when Nandor has his own run-in with a creature that is talking behind a barnyard wall, the doubt settles in that maybe this family isn’t making it up after all.
What is both brilliant and infuriating for viewers will be that you may never fully see Gef with your own eyes. It’s an element that allows Nandor to keep his skeptical mind, but often seeing can be too much, and it becomes fun to see their minds doubt. The writing and directing by Sigal is shockingly compact, never shielding the audience from the mystery, but instead allowing us to see what Nandor and Anne see. The voice of Gef is equally hilarious (voiced by Neil Gaiman), nasally and sharp, like if Alvin the Chipmunk had a cold. What turns into the surprising part is how Nandor himself has a crisis of faith, a questioning of what is real in the world, and diving into deeper existential questions that could only be conjured up by a talking mongoose.
Although the third act does feel to end abruptly, what won me over was the sheer absurdity of it, along with a great collective cast of character actors. It reminded me of 1980s films like My Stepmother is an Alien, Harry and the Hendersons, or Short Circuit. It’s not as kid-friendly as those but there is a whimsical spirit, an approach like asking an adult if they still believe in Santa Claus, because if they say yes you don’t find them strange, you can see they have a childlike spirit. I think that’s what Sigal is getting at. He is finding the philosophy and meaning of life through a– potentially- talking mongoose. I would believe it’s real. Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose will make a believer out of anybody.
NANDOR FODOR AND THE TALKING MONGOOSE IS NOW PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS ON FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady