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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Blinky Bill: The Movie is an animated movie based on a beloved series of Australian children's books about a plucky little koala. There's some peril (animals are chased, threatened by predators, and presumed dead or hurt) and a bit of rude humor, as well as a couple of insults ("shut your snout," "stupid"). But it's still a fine choice for all but the youngest viewers who scare easily. Although American viewers may not be as familiar with the popular Aussie character, audiences of all ages will find Blinky endearing and courageous. He does trick his mother when he sets off on his adventure against her wishes and without telling her (which might warrant a reminder to kids), but the messages are ultimately about teamwork and perseverance paying off.
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What's the story?
BLINKY BILL: THE MOVIE is based on a series of popular Australian children's books about a daring little koala named Blinky (here voiced by Ryan Kwanten). Blinky and his family live in Green Patch. After his dad, a brave adventurer, goes missing in the Outback, Blinky's the only one who thinks he's still alive out there and in need of rescue. So one day, Blinky leaves Green Patch to find him. On the road, he teams up with a female domesticated koala, Nutsy (Robin McLeavy); sister emus Beryl and Cheryl (both Toni Collette); Jacko (David Wenham), a nervous frill-necked lizard; and a wacky wombat (Barry Humphries). But of course, Blinky also runs up against an enemy: angry feral cat Sir Claude (Rufus Sewell), who will stop at nothing to destroy Blinky and ruin his quest.
Is it any good?
This animated Aussie adventure isn't Pixar-level amazing, but it's endearing enough to appeal to young viewers who will root for plucky little Blinky. Blinky Bill stays true to its Aussie roots with a story that celebrates the Outback and encourages strong family and friendship ties. Blinky doesn't always make parent-approved decisions -- like when he leaves Green Patch without his mother's consent (and fools her into thinking he's still there) -- but he has a good heart and tries his best to help others and to find his dad. He never gives up, even when the odds are stacked against him and his friends.
Although the animation isn't groundbreaking, and the plot is rather predictable, the story is short, sweet, and just adventurous enough to make young audiences wonder how Blinky will manage to overcome his various obstacles. The tension between a wild and zoo-kept koala also makes the friendship (and light romance) between Blinky and Nutsy quite comedic. One of the best aspects of the movie is how authentically Australian the characters are -- the voice cast is a who's-who of Australian character -- so there's always a clear sense of place. If you're looking for a cute animated adventure with positive messages, Blinky Bill is a fine pick.
Talk to your kids about ...
Which characters are role models? How can you tell? Does someone have to make the right decisions all the time to be considered a role model?
What makes stories about kids searching for their parents/families so appealing? Can you think of others?
If you're familiar with the Australian children's books -- how does this Blinky compare to the Blinky of the stories?
- In theaters: October 7, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: October 11, 2016
- Cast: Ryan Kwanten, Rufus Sewell, Toni Collette
- Director: Deane Taylor
- Studio: Shout! Factory
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Wild Animals
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor
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