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MOOMINS ON THE RIVIERA (review)

Review by Elizabeth Weitz
Produced by Vesa Harju, Hanna Hemilä,
Sophia Jansson, Xavier Picard
Written by Leslie Stewart, Annina Enckell,
Hanna Hemilä, Xavier Picard, Beata Harju
Based upon the comic strip by Tove Jansson
Directed by Xavier Picard and Hanna Hemilä
Voiced by Nathaniel Parker, Tracy-Ann Oberman,
Russell Tovey, Stephanie Winiecki, Ruth Gibson

For a majority of Americans the world of comics and animation begins and ends with the works that are created here, forgetting that there’s a treasure trove of creativity that have come from other parts of the world.

Sure, we may be familiar with Tintin and Babar, but say the word Moomin, and most people would draw a blank.

Which is probably why the story of the Moomins (a group of hippo-like creatures created originally as a comic strip in 1945 by Tove Jansson) going to the French Riviera seems, well weird.

After-all, who are these characters and why would someone want to see them getting into a series of conundrums worthy of a Griswold Family-like European Vacation?

Maybe because a lot of the rest of the world does and has for decades.

Unfortunately, this film is not a good introduction to the beloved clan of Moomin (Russell Tovey), Moominpappa (Nathaniel Parker), Moominmamma (Tracy Ann Oberman), Snorkmaiden (Stephanie Winiecki) and Little My (Ruth Gibson).

While the animation itself is gorgeously done with a calming color scheme (the perfect antidote for the chaotic CG films we’ve become accustomed to) and a simplicity of style that defies the expertness of the skill, a weak and boring storyline as well as lackluster voice acting leaves little to be desired.

For a newcomer to the Moomin world, the film is a disappointment and one that makes delving into the comic strips and getting to know the characters hardly worth the time (which is unfortunate since Drawn and Quarterly has collected them all in several delicious volumes) and for the fan of the characters, I’m not sure it’s any better of an outcome.

While there are moments in the film that show-off the beauty and sweetness of the characters, they are few and far between. My suggestion is this: read the comics and get to know the characters as they were meant to be known and then watch the film to make your own judgement.

Just don’t dismiss the Moomins outright, they are definitely worth getting acquainted with.

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