In the small town of Australia’s Warrnambool, there’s been a steady drop-off of fairy penguins. The stubby animals think they’re safe at a sanctuary on Middle Island, but end up being dinner for foxes. Not only is this bad for the animals, but this has also put a damper on the sanctuary’s future; causing its relevance to dwindle.
It turns out Middle Island’s worries is just what a local troublemaker needs to find a role within his community. I am, however, talking about an excitable sheepdog named Oddball. His owner – an equally excitable farmer – has been reprimanded for Oddball’s behaviour for the final time, which only further inspires him to show everyone just how special Oddball can be.
Stuart McDonald’s environmentally-friendly family film Oddball does the trick. The film won’t floor anyone, but it does give movie goers some pleasant surprises. Kids will be drawn to the loveable relationship between Oddball and the cute penguins as well as the bond between the farmer and his enthusiastic granddaughter. Meanwhile, parents will be impressed with how McDonald hasn’t spared any adults in the story. The characters are far more than simple, oblivious supervisors, and actually add more endearing heart to the movie. Even Alan Tudyk’s arrogant businessman is more than his outline.
Oddball is slated to be TIFF Kids’ opening film, which may be anti-climactic for those expecting a showy game changer. The next time Oddball screens is on a Saturday afternoon – that’s more like it.
Oddball screens at Toronto’s TIFF Kids International Film Festival on Saturday, April 9 at 1:15 pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie