Film Review: Blinky Bill: The Movie

The cartoon character of Blinky Bill, an adventurous koala, has been a huge hit in Australia since 1933. American kids (and their parents) may well ask why it took so long to bring Blinky and Aussie pals to the U.S..
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Adult moviegoers who don’t usually take small children to the movies are probably not that familiar with animated features created specifically for kids, so discovering there are good ones like Binky Bill will probably come as a surprise.

It’s not that Blinky’s story is terribly original (an innocent sets out on an adventurous quest and meets fascinating, like-minded companions along the way), nor does the film’s CGI animation technique give it a new and different look. The thing that makes us sit up and take notice here is the sheer Aussie-ness of the characters, as well as the strange and wondrous depiction of the Australian outback.

Blinky (Ryan Kwanten) is a bright and ambitious adolescent koala who lives with his mom (Deborah Mailman) and dad, Mr. Bill (Richard Roxburgh), in the peaceful haven of Green Patch. One day the always-adventurous Mr. Bill announces he’s off to the outback to rescue some lost animals and will be returning home soon. After a year goes by with no dad, brave little Blinky decides it’s up to him to find his father and bring him home. Duping his mother into thinking he’s locked in his room, Blinky sets out, alone, but quickly encounters Nutsy (Robin McLeavy), a girl Koala, who was on her way to the zoo and what she hoped would be a luxurious life of spa baths and manicures. Blinky promises to help her get to the zoo, right after he finds his dad, who was last seen heading for the Sea of White Dragons—or Croc Canyon, as it’s sometimes called, because it’s home to a swarm of white crocodiles.

During their odyssey, Blinky and Nutsy are caught up in all the requisite close calls and they meet a variety of other creatures native to the Australian outback. Among them are kookaburras, kangaroos, platypuses, goannas, tree rats—and, significantly, a nervous frill-necked lizard named Jacko (David Wenham) who repeatedly proves helpful to our hero and heroine, as do Cheryl and Beryl, a couple of dainty emus delightfully voiced by Toni Collette. A couple of the other top Australian actors who give voices to the unique characters are Rufus Sewell as Sir Claude, a vicious feral cat (every adventure movie needs a villain), and Barry Humphries (better known in this hemisphere as Dame Edna), who plays an eccentric Wombat called Wambo.

Although the outback may be a fearsome place to most Australians, the bright but barren landscape depicted in Blinky Bill looks quite intriguing to those who’ve never seen it, and while Blinky and his buddies may be familiar cartoon characters Down Under, they’re all new to the American kiddies who’ve probably had it up to here with the homegrown Tweety Bird or Marvin the Martian. And, finally, this Aussie import throws in a couple of brazenly funny quips for the adult guardians in the audience. For example: “Do you have a reptile problem?”

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