UK Release Date: 22nd May 2015
Runtime: 75 minutes
Director: Xavier Picard, Hanna Hemilä
Writer: Trevor de Silva, Kevin Hood
Starring: Russell Tovey, Stephanie Winiecki, Nathaniel Parker, Tracy Ann Oberman, Ruth Gibson, Shelley Blond, Dave Browne
Synopsis: The Moomins find themselves on the French Riviera and struggle to fit in with the glamour and celebrity of Europe.
I was slightly too young to have caught the Moomins when they appeared on television in the early 1990s. Therefore, I was a little baffled when I first saw the trailer for Moomins on the Riviera, which seemed like a bizarre, offbeat piece of work. Having seen the film, I’m still none the wiser.
Moomin (Russell Tovey) is happy with his lot in life, but his girlfriend Snorkmaiden (Stephanie Winiecki) is restless and enamoured with the high life of movie stars and fashionistas. A sailing trip with Moominpappa (Nathaniel Parker) and Moominmamma (Tracy Ann Oberman) leaves the family shipwrecked on the French Riviera, where they pose as an aristocratic family and end up sharing a hotel with A-lister Audrey Glamour (Shelley Blond).
Moomins on the Riviera is a dreamlike, freewheeling journey through a fantastical world. Sequences flow over and through each other, rather than neatly from scene to scene, giving the entire film an unusual quality that leaves it all feeling inconsistent and free of any narrative cohesion.
| “Why don’t we go sailing in the moonlight?”
It’s also a film packed with characters who aren’t quite complete. Plenty of time is devoted to Snorkmaiden, who spends much of the film struggling with her identity in the face of the seductive foreign glamour of the Riviera. Everyone else, however, gets little to do in terms of emotion as they potter around taking part in weird side stories that don’t really go anywhere.
There’s plenty of comedy in Moomins on the Riviera, but crucially there aren’t all that many laughs. Many of the jokes fall flat on their face given that there’s so little context for them. A third act sword fight, in particular, comes out of nowhere in terms of plot and feels completely incongruous.
The animation in Moomins on the Riviera is full of flair and charm. In fact, it’s the traditional hand-drawn visual style that rescues the film from being a complete failure. It gives the film a unique feel amongst the CGI-heavy animated market of recent years.
| “This is the life I was born for.”
Unfortunately, for all of its visual uniqueness and refreshing originality, Moomins on the Riviera doesn’t hold together on any level. It meanders along without any sort of thrust in either plot or character and limps to its feeble conclusion, almost free of anything resembling entertainment.
Pop or Poop?
Ambling along like an unfocused and baffling dream, Moomins on the Riviera is a deeply weird animated film, saved only by its impressive throwback visuals, which really make the European landscapes pop.
The vocal performances are okay, if incredibly unremarkable, and the characters are very thinly drawn. As a result, laughs are few and far between. It might keep the kids entertained for just over an hour, but there’s little for anyone else to enjoy.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.