‘Moomins on the Riviera’ Review – Social Commentary is Always Cuter From Cartoons

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Review in a tweet: “#MoominsOnTheRiviera masterfully use cuteness and animation to make poignant social commentary”
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Moomins on the Riviera is the first feature length film starring the Moomins. The film uses the same animation style used in the comic strips and book compilations to bring the long beloved family to life on the big screen. The film begins with a seemingly typical day in Moomin Valley that leads to the night of one of Moominpapa’s parties. Unbeknownst to them there is a pirate ship nearby using their campire as a light house beacon; this mix up causes the pirates to crash into rocks and abandon ship while their prisoners untie themselves and scramble to survive. The next day the Moomins are simply going about their when one of the prisoners, Mymble, is scrambling to get to shore. Moomintroll, referred to as “Moomin,” drops his screen acting with his girlfriend Snork Maiden to swim out and rescue Mymble, making Snork Maiden jealous. Mymble then tells them about the ship and the Moomins go to recover anything they can, returnung with tropical seeds, rumb, fireworks, and Mymble’s sister Littly My. After returning home, the pirates come to the Moomins’ home to search for their treasure to no avail. They then leave, and Mymble attempts to follow as she still believes she is their prisoner. The Moomins and Littly My then journey to the Riviera as Snork Maiden direly wants to go and live the life she reads about in her magazine. Once in the Riviera the Moomins find themselves all adjusting to the big city life very differently, and hijinx ensue.

I personally did not know much about the Moomins other than I randomly have a Moomin toy from some Kinder Surprise Eggs I had smuggled into the country. Regardless of being unaware of the Moomins’ long history and reputation I found the film to be adorable. What stood out to me was the art style. It is very basic in terms of shapes and coloring, but the animation really made it feel like a newspaper comic strip came to life. I feel it gracefully homages the Moomins’ origin and brings it to life in spectacular form. However, there were some really irking flaws in continuity. During Mymble and Little My’s escape from the pirate ship, Little My chews through the rope then climbs the ships ballast, then the shot cuts to a wide of the entire ship as it lays on the rocks. The aduience is shown Mymble going from the ballast to the ocean and Little My is no where in sight. There are numerous occasions where things should be in the shot and are not that momentarily takes me out of the experience.

Story wise, it is reminscent of The Beverly Hill Billies, or any other fish out of water story where non-city families deal with large city culture, this is where a lot of the depth of the film came. A lot social commentary can be found on the affluent lifestyle seeming needless and excessive in comparison to more rural and simple living. Such commentaries can be seen when the Moomins decided to all live on the large bed in their suite as they saw the room was far too big for them, or how the artist Marquis Mongaga could only make true art after suffering by living simply and without excess as the Moomins do. The commentary is rather deep but subtle, it comes off as playful due to the child friendly animation and dialogue, but it is profound in its reduction. The downside is that the story is a bit drawn out, and minus Moomin and Snork Maiden’s relationship kerfuffle and Moomin and Moominmama’s dislike of city life, there is essentially no conflict.

In terms of performance, I found the entire cast to be solid. The characters who had the most range in their performances were Moomin and Littlye My, voiced by Russel Tovey and Ruth Gibson, Moomin going through an array of emotions as he struggles to adjust and comprehend living in the big city, while Little My plays the straight man that calls out all of the oddities. The rest of the characters essentially stay on the same note throughout the film. I did find the casting of the voices to fit perfectly for each character, but in general I do not feel the overall performance has any profound affect on the film.

Moomins on the Rivera is an adorable animated feature that is suitable for the whole family. It is full of wholesome values and light hearted humor that is rare to come by. I would recommend it as a family film for families with younger children and any fans of the franchise.

It will be playing once a day, beginning Friday December 4th, 2015  at the Laemmle Royal Theater on Santa Monica Blvd. here in Los Angeles at 12:45pm.

The Verdict
3

Summary

Moomins on the Rivera is an adorable animated feature that is suitable for the whole family. It is full of wholesome values and light hearted humor that is rare to come by. I would recommend it as a family film for families with younger children and any fans of the franchise.

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