Sir Billi (or Guardian of the Highlands in America) is a 2012 Scottish computer-animated adventure-comedy film made by the husband and wife team of Sascha and Tessa Hartmann and their production company known as Billi Productions. The film had been in development for several years, with a 30-minute short version released in 2006, but expanded into 80 minutes 6 years later.
An old, retired skateboarding veterinarian named Sir Billi goes above and beyond the call of responsibility, fighting villainous policemen and strong-armed lairds with the help of his pet goat Gordon in a battle to save an illegal fugitive — Bessie Boo the beaver.
Why It Sucks
- Horrific animation and character designs. The textures are very muddled, while the characters' models are weirdly shaped, have weird facial expressions, and have a white outline that makes them look like they got cut out of paper. The female designs also have cleavage showing, despite the movie being family-friendly.
- Terrible autumn color palette reminiscent of rust.
- Many of the anthropomorphic animals in the movie are also wearing jumpsuits so the animators would not have to rig all the fur.
- Speaking of the anthropomorphic animals, the design used for Billi's goat Gordon in particular displays anatomical inaccuracies, as he is shown to have hands, which goats in real life do not.
- Bland plot that cannot decide on what to make as the main conflict.
- Horrible pacing: one example is that when Bessie Boo gets in danger of drowning, it is established that she needs immediate help. However, it takes about ten minutes for any of the characters to take action, which just makes no sense whatsoever.
- Repetitive dialogue and heavily lackluster voice acting, even from actors including not only Sean Connery, but also Alan Cumming and Ruby Wax. Connery's acting as Sir Billi himself, in particular, is very inconsistent, presumably due to Connery having to be called back several times to re-record his lines; even the strength of his voice is inconsistent.
- Uninteresting characters.
- Weak sound editing, particularly in one scene where Bessie gets dragged into the metal grates, causing Billi to scream her name, the audio of which then immediately layers to Bessie screaming, thus making it sound more like Billi's voice is cracking.
- There are so many inappropriate jokes and moments for a kids' film, including a recurring joke about "smelly beavers" and even a scene where Billi tells his grandson Jake to "Give Papa a juicy kiss".
- Bessie Boo the beaver is extremely annoying, as she always constantly screams and cries nonstop throughout the entire movie.
- Some of the jokes in this movie are just completely random and have no real connection with the characters or movie, like in one scene with two guards, where their uniforms read 'Armand Hammer' and 'Pepe Roni' at the back, as puns on cleaning supplies and pizza respectively.
- The directors are devoted Scottish nationalists, thus making this movie a near-obvious Scottish nationalist propaganda film, with one example being a scene at Sir Billi’s kitchen, which is shown to have two flags, both each clearly meant to represent the film's oblivious politics, like a dusted up British flag being overshadowed by a cleaned Scottish flag, which serves as a fridge door.
- At one point, the Hartmanns were outraged when the Scottish National Party chose to promote Disney-Pixar's Brave instead of their film.
- Also, the main two harmless police villain's affiliation is never addressed. However, since as again this is a propaganda film for the directors’ politics, the viewer is likely made to assume their reason of taking the beavers away, was very likely the British government’s doing, not the Scottish government, thus presumably being the true main but background antagonist of the film.
- The American title, "Guardian of the Highlands," sounds very generic and would fit better in a fantasy-themed movie.
- The film's theme song and opening pay a nice homage to James Bond, referring to Sean Connery's iconic portrayal of the character.
- The soundtrack, provided by former Harry Potter composer Patrick Doyle, is quite decent.
This film has been forgotten about, although it was universally panned by critics, complete with a 0% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Several reviewers have compared it to Foodfight! due to the poor animation, inappropriately adult humor, and surprising involvement of some well-known actors.
- This was touted as Scotland's first CG film; it had originally been promoted as the first-ever animated film from Scotland, but production took so long that it had lost that title to The Illusionist by the time it was actually released.
- This film stars the late Sean Connery in his final acting role before officially retiring and eventually passing away in October of 2020. He had already announced his retirement after his bad experience working on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but came out of retirement as a favor to the film's producer, and also because it was a voice-only role.
- Though the finished film credits only 15 animators, over a hundred were supposedly involved in the course of production, with most of them either being fired, quitting, or taking their name off the film. Several of them have since come forward to criticize the Hartmanns' handling of the film.
- Reportedly, the Hartmanns sent complaints to the Scottish government because they chose to promote Disney-Pixar's film Brave rather than Sir Billi.