By the time the drama is wrapped up with a bow and every child has learned a valuable life lesson, even the gap-toothed little tyke there solely for comic relief has begun to grate.
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To be fair, War of the Buttons is a film with a modest agenda. It does not attempt to provide a complete or even vaguely realistic depiction of the rural French resistance in the endgame to World War II. Instead, it provides a fable.
War of the Buttons deftly folds France's unsavory collusions into a rather more rousing tale of resistance. I don't doubt that some of these heroics happened. But the way they're framed conveniently takes the edge off saying sorry.
Of course, everyone in the film - aside from one or two conspicuous villains - turns out to be a resistant, making an otherwise harmlessly corny movie something slightly more bothersome: a revisionist fantasy of French heroism.
The parallels between the kids' war and the real one are made far too obvious by Christophe Barratier, who made the equally treacly "The Chorus" and infests the movie with nonstop musical goo.
War of the Buttons means well. But ultimately there's only marginally more edge to this treatment of World War II than there is to the average episode of "Hogan's Heroes."
The slick filmmaking - the movie has a glossy, Hollywood-ready feel that sometimes tips into the cutesy - works against its themes.