Oddball and the Penguins is a delightful children’s movie with a heartwarming true story and gentle message of preservation and awareness. This film is in many ways reminiscent of cherished animal stories such as Babe and Happy Feet.
The film is based on the true story of Swampy Marsh, an eccentric chicken farmer and his Maremma dog, Oddball, who protects the endangered fairy penguins on Middle Island, a local tourist attraction in Warrnambool, Australia. Swampy comes to learn that his mischievous mutt Oddball protects the penguins by chasing away foxes that threaten their species count. This touching, rural adventure displays the wonder of Australian wildlife, as well as the poignant pursuit of a man trying to reunite his family.
Shane Jacobson gives quirky and endearing character to Swampy Marsh, particularly in collaboration with Coco Jack Gillies as his granddaughter, Olivia. The film has the exciting and heroic appeal of an animated children’s tale, but with a very real story and very real animals. It doesn’t hurt that the title roles are given to adorable little penguins and a lovable, furry sheepdog. The cuddly, white Maremmas are ridiculously photogenic, and, as an added bonus, valiant and loyal.
The only way Oddball could be improved is if there was even more focus on the animals and less on the somewhat predictable human storylines. Overall, it is difficult to dislike the amiable creatures, the picturesque Australian scenery, and the crowd-pleasing, family-friendly story. The children’s movie genre could use more films like this with a true story and gracious message to inspire positive change in our community and in family life.
Oddball is released nationwide on 12th February 2016.
Watch the trailer for Oddball and the Penguins here: