Review by Camden Ferrell
Back to the Outback is an international co-production between the United States and Australia obviously. It is the directorial debut of the duo consisting of writer Harry Cripps and animated film veteran Clare Knight. The movie feels somewhat fresh due to the seldom seen Australian setting in children’s animation, but this movie lacks a lot of humor and charm that’s needed to appeal to older children and adults.
An Australian Zoo has a collection of some of the world’s most deadly creatures. This includes a snake, spider, thorny devil, scorpion, and even a crocodile. When one of their own gets taken from the zoo, and the animals become disenchanted with being looked at as monsters by the public, this group of animals plot an escape in order to go to the Outback. It’s a simple premise, and it feels like it has been done many times before, but it’s sufficient for a kid’s movie.
This film was written by Cripps and Gregory Lessans, this being the latter’s first feature length script. Unfortunately, the writing seems to lack depth and character, and it doesn’t do much to create funny and memorable interactions between its characters. Everything is spelled out for the audience in a dull way, and it’s one of the film’s weakest aspects.
The movie also features a pretty star-studded cast. It stars Isla Fisher, Eric Bana, Guy Pearce, Jacki Weaver, and Keith Urban among others. However, none of the actors do anything to make their performance memorable. Nobody gives a bad performance, but I’d struggle to remember their quality even shortly after watching the movie. This is rather disappointing considering how talented the cast has proven themselves to be in their respective careers.
Even if it’s not bad, the movie also doesn’t have the highest quality animation. It looks cheaply made at times and can really make the final product feel less valuable than it might actually be. Despite its flaws, I will concede that there are a few funny moments of physical comedy throughout, and it features noble albeit familiar themes for kids to learn from.
Back to the Outback may only appeal to very young children, but it has some funny moments even if it’s surrounded by a lot of mediocrity. The setting of the Australian outback was refreshing, but it feels rather derivative and repetitive other than that.
Back the Outback is available on Netflix December 10.
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