In a world dominated by mainstream CGI animated films comes a simple, refined film… MOOMINS ON THE RIVERIA. In celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Tove Jansson’s birth, Moomins on the Riveria is the first animated feature based on the comic strips by Tove Jansson and Lars Jansson.
Starring Russell Tovey as Moomintroll, Nathaniel Parker as Moominpappa, and Tracy Ann Oberman as Moominmamma, Moomins on the Riveria follow the adventure of the Moomin family (accompanied by My and Snorkmaiden) embarking on a trip across the ocean in search of the majestic Riveria.
Upon arrival in the sophisticated French city, they soon forget the Moomin ways. Dazzled by celebrity Audrey Glamour and the attentions of playboy Clark Tresco, Moomintroll’s friend, Snorkmaiden, falls head over heels for Riveria. To Moomintroll and Moominmamma’s great surprise, Moominpappa also becomes mesmerised by the classy Rivierian way of life when he befriends the rich aristocrat, Marquis Mongaga.
Confronted by Riveria’s obsession with materialism, Moomintroll is annoyed by the nonsensical life and Snorkmaiden’s silliness. In the same boat as Moomintroll, Moominmamma is also unable to adjust to the fancy life as she continues to request porridge for dinner and pot plants to plant her seeds. With the Moomin family’s unity threatened, Moomintroll and Moominmamma eventually decides to move to the local beach in order to escape Riveria.
Co-produced by Finnish studio Handle Productions and French studio Pictak Cie, Moomins on the Riveria marks Xavier Picard’s directorial debut. We must wonder — how does one translate Tove Jansson’s art into modern cinematic animation? How will it stand against the other mainstream animated features?
Maintaining its traditional comic strip art direction, this hand-drawn animated feature presents a fairly reduced colour scale for the overall film. It is minimal art at its best, ultimately drawing our attention to the storytelling and characters on the foreground.
Yet, we are astounded by its use of limited colours and 2D animation that somehow makes this film refined — complete with a desire to not wander away from its original content to meet the expectations of today’s viewers.
Showing a cultural clash between the Moomin life and a modern world that runs on money, Moomins on the Riveria is a cautionary tale that reminds us to be content and appreciative with the simple things in life. However, the film also warns young viewers that not everything can be passed onto us for free, and some things must be earned through hard work in order to survive in the real world.
Despite being marketed as a children’s animated feature, that doesn’t mean Moomins on the Riveria can’t be enjoyed by older fans. Believe it or not, the story featured many adult scenarios that foreshadow the harsh reality of being an adult. Scenes such as Moominpappa’s painful hangover and Moomintroll’s bitter jealousy would have been recognisable, and as a result, older fans would have reminisced about life being much simpler when we were younger.
Overall: MOOMINS ON THE RIVIERA is animated feature that brings old school back to modern times. A great tribute to a much celebrated comic strip, the film has achieved well, and no doubt that it has had the opportunity to gain a wider audience than before.
However, we can’t help but wonder whether an animated television series would be on the cards as Moomins on the Riveria is better tailored towards television than another cinematic adventure.