A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Moomins on the Riviera is based on Finnish cartoonist Tove Jansson's beloved Nordic comic/book/TV characters that have been popular in Europe since 1945. In the movie, the Moomin trolls are a family of eccentric and naive hippo-like creatures who have little adventures. Originally recorded in Swedish, the movie has been dubbed by an English-speaking cast, but American audiences may be unfamiliar with the characters. There's more drinking than is usually featured in Hollywood animated tales, with the Moomins and other resort goers drinking wine, champagne, and even hard liquor like whiskey. There's no strong language or violence beyond a few moments of slapstick, but there is some flirting and jealousy as Moomin's girlfriend, Snorkmaiden, accepts advances and a date from a rich suitor.
What's the story?
MOOMINS ON THE RIVIERA follows the Moomin family: Moomin (voiced by Russell Tovey); his parents, Moominmamma (Tracy-Ann Oberman) and Momminpappa (Nathaniel Parker); his girlfriend, Snorkmaiden (Stephanie Winiecki); and Little My (Ruth Gibson), a snarky little human girl. The group ends up on an unintended vacation in the Riviera; once they arrive at a fancy resort, they mistakenly believe that being hotel "guests" means their stay is free. Taking up residence in the hotel's poshest suite, the Moomin family is referred to as the "De Moomins," suggesting aristocracy, and befriends a few upper-crust guests who believe the Moomins are bohemian eccentrics -- rather than a broke and naive lot.
Is it any good?
Those unfamiliar with the Moomin comic (sort of the Peanuts of Northern/Western Europe), may not be as enchanted with the gentle and naive characters as those who feel nostalgic about them. While there are definitely some sweet and funny moments in the film -- particularly those featuring Moominmamma, who resists the glitz and glamour of the Riviera by spending time on the beach and attempting to grow her own food in their penthouse suite -- some of the other characters frustrate more than they entertain. Snorkmaiden in particular is hard to root for as she gambles for the sake of buying a black bikini and other fashions a la mode.
The movie's funnier scenes involve an aristocrat who takes a shine to Moominpappa and the family because he's secretly an artist who wishes he could shed the golden shackles of his blue-blood upbringing. Little My is hilariously mischievous, causing trouble and making blunt, matter-of-fact comments that prove that while she may be the youngest, she's certainly the most knowing character of the bunch. This is a modestly charming story that families who enjoy Japanese and European animation will want to check out but that those who "need" more Disney-fied characters, musical numbers, and heartwarming adventure plots may find a stretch for Moomin-uninitiated kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between the Moomin clan and popular American cartoon or comic characters. Do you have to be familiar with characters to enjoy their movies?
The resort goers think the Moomins are so rich that they're eccentric; how does others' perception of them change when they realize the Moomins have no fortune? What message does that send?
What role does drinking play in the story? Is it glamorized in anyway, or incidental? How does it compare to what you've seen in American animated movies?
Does the movie make you curious about the Moomin comics, books, and TV serires? Do you want to read/see more about the Moomin trolls?
- In theaters: December 4, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: January 1, 2016
- Cast: Russell Tovey, Tracy Ann Oberman, Nathaniel Parker
- Directors: Xavier Picard, Hanna Hemilä
- Studio: Handle Productions
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 80 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: November 02, 2019
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