'Blinky Bill: The Movie': Film Review

BLINKY BILL -Still 1 -H 2016
Courtesy of Shout Factory Kids, Flying Bark Productions
A pleasant but generic Outback kiddie adventure.

'True Blood''s Ryan Kwanten goes kid-flick, voicing an Australian koala hunting for his father.

A plush little koala rushes off to adventure in Blinky Bill: The Movie, Deane Taylor's adaptation of Dorothy Wall's eponymous Australian kids'-book series. The books were published in the '30s, but parents shouldn't expect anything resembling their quaintly antique illustration in this thoroughly conventional CG update. They shouldn't expect much originality either, though the youngest viewers will be diverted by the action.

Blinky (voiced by Ryan Kwanten) is the son of a self-styled explorer who at the film's start heads off on a quest to find the mythical Sea of White Dragons. Cut to a year later, when the inhabitants of little Green Patch have given up hope of his return. With a cranky monitor lizard threatening to declare himself monarch of the village, Blinky decides it's time to go retrieve Dad himself.

The Outback quest that ensues introduces the kid to a predictable assortment of colorful characters, from a wigged-out wombat to a pair of chatty emus. But his key companion is Nutsy (Robin McLeavy), a girl koala who was raised in a zoo and wants nothing to do with wild nature. Having accidentally rescued her from human hands, Blinky must help her get back to captivity before he can pick up the hunt for his father. That's if a giant feral cat with aristocratic affectations doesn't gobble him up first.

Fin Edquist's generic but pleasant script offers only a couple of groaner puns to those chaperoning kids in the audience ("got a reptile dysfunction, have you?" is an example); but it's brought to solid life by Aussie thesps Toni Collette, Richard Roxburgh, and others. (Cam Ralph, though, might have been wise to avoid channeling Robin Williams in his depiction of a lyre bird's manic mimicry.) Young viewers won't mistake this cuddly yarn for a new Pixar release, but they shouldn't be bored.


Production company: Flying Bark

Distributor: Shout! Factory Kids

Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Rufus Sewell, Toni Collette, David Wenham, Deborah Mailman, Richard Roxburgh, Robin McLeavy, Barry Otto, Barry Humphries

Director: Deane Taylor

Screenwriter: Fin Edquist

Producers: Barbara Stephen, Jim Ballantine

Executive producers: Hans Bourlon, Paul Cummins, A.K. Madhavan, Emily Price, Brian Rosen, Gert Verhulst

Editor: Simon Klaebe

Composer: Dale Cornelius

Casting directors: Lucky Gorka, Kirsty McGregor

PG, 90 minutes