Popcorn, M&Ms and a large drink… roll the film… The weekend is coming and parents will be looking for a break. The cinemas have a few options this season. An Australian children’s icon has been given new life with a CGI version of the young koala adventurer.
The original storyline of the Blinky Bill character was for Blinky to have adventures that will stop the deforestation of the Australian Outback. The newest instalment of Blinky Bill (Ryan Kwanten) takes a less environmental stance and centres on saving his home by bringing his family back together. The battle is for Green Patch and the antagoniser is the evil Cranklepot the Goanna (Barry Otto) who wants to rule their little community.
Blinky Bill’s story begins when he is a young koala and the origins of his adventurous side are revealed by following the example of his father, Mr. Bill (Richard Roxburgh). After his adventurous father heads off on his latest mission to save trapped animals in the red desert, he goes missing. The younger koala never loses faith in the return of the family patriarch, but while his father is away, Cranklepot moves into leadership of their animal menagerie home. Blinky takes it upon himself to find his father and bring order to their small community. Through a series of signs and death defying events, Blinky connects with a band of young outback creatures that help him to sniff out the trail that Mr. Bill took through the Australian landscape. His new friends Nutsy (Robin McLeavy), a zoo koala, and Jacko (David Wenham), a neurotic frill-necked lizard, help him to make his way through traps, feral animals and well-intentioned zoo keepers to stay on course to find the answers to his father’s disappearance and save Green Patch.
One joy of this animated journey through the Australian Outback is the vocal talents of the who’s who in the Australian acting community (Toni Collette, Barry Humphries and more). They add a level of credibility to this pedestrian tale of Australian folklore and may make it easier for parents to stomach the cringe-worthy stereotypes of Australian culture. The script is elementray and the animation is reminiscent of any Nickelodeon CGI series, but the viewer only needs to be reminded that this chapter of Blinky Bill is meant for children under the age of six years of age. Unlike many of the animated films by Disney and Dreamworks, this film has a small target audience. Parents will be able to appreciate that this film is a safe option for their kids, but it is not designed for an older audience. There are a few jokes added to provide fathers an opportunity to chuckle (Grab your gumnuts and let’s go!), but in the end this excursion to the theatre will be to entertain the little ones. Fortunately, the message is focussed on bringing a traditional family and their community back together. There is no hidden agenda undergirding the storyline that parents need to be weary of their children being exposed to. Blinky Bill the Movie is far from being ground-breaking cinema, but it does fill the need for parents who are looking for an option to entertain their children during the weekend.
Blinky Bill the Movie does provide a wonderful opportunity for parents to talk with their kids about the importance of family. Regardless of the family atmosphere that people bring into the theatre, this film has a strong message for any family at its heart and a basic plot point that little children can appreciate and grasp. After walking out of the theatre and cleaning the popcorn out of their hair (from the child sitting behind the family), this would be a fun time to talk with children about the film and about family. What does family mean to your kids and what are we willing to do to keep the family together? An easy conversation in the car afterwards and a special time to connect with the each other.
The animation and the dialogue are designed for younger kids, even though some of humour was meant for older audiences. Blinky Bill is not offensive and will not be embarrassing for parents to share with their little ones, but it the film is meant for the young at heart.