Dove has had second thoughts on this movie, since we reviewed it in 2016.
Based on the book Comet in Moominland by Tove Jannsson, a Swedish book first published in 1946, this delightful animated movie is narrated by the late, great Max Von Sydow. His distinctive voice lends itself well to this imaginative tale about a comet that is headed on a collision course with the residents of Moominland.
Aptly directed by Maria Lindberg, this wonderful world of fascinating characters is set in a world of vibrant colors—red, orange and when the story opens, a rare grey day. The three main characters who become adventurers in the tale are Moomintrol (voiced by Alexander Skarsgard), Sniff (voiced by Mads Mikkelsen), and Snufkin (Peter Stormare).
The people of Moominland are concerned as to how quickly a comet might hit, after they have learned of its projection toward Earth from Mr. Muskrat. Mr. Muskrat visits Sniff’s home and when Sniff’s father thinks Mr. Muskrat is becoming too negative he suggests he returns home and to his hammock to think.
It is soon decided that our two heroes (Moomintrol and Sniff) will attempt to cross the river in a raft in order to travel to the observatory, where they hope the scientists there can tell them more about the impending striking of the red comet and its streaking tail.
The characters are like little animated puppets and each stand out. For example, Snufkin wears a distinctive green hat with a flower in it and Sniff is a mouse with a distinctive voice. The trip doesn’t start out too well for Sniff, who falls in the water but he is soon rescued and the two would-be heroes sail away. The two soon become a trio when Snufkin invites them to his place for coffee. He is concerned the world will be destroyed if the comet strikes so he joins the journey to visit the observatory. This nice tale features some pearls of wisdom too. For example, a character says, “Life gets complicated when you want to own things.”
The three heroes overcome a lot of obstacles including hitting a rapids but they make it despite the raft going over the falls. One of a funny character’s exclamation is, “Great Grasshoppers!”
In their travels they meet a wise old character who tells them the red comet shows up once every hundred years and it has a red tail. Despite their worries they do share some nice moments such as when they spend a night, snug as can be, in their tent. And later in their journey a nice lady shopkeeper helps them with some supplies in a jam. The big-hearted lady donates the items to the intrepid little band.
A subplot of the story features Snarkmaiden losing her golden ankle bracelet. Moomintroll is determined to find her, after he discovers the bracelet, and to return it to her. Various scenes of a character’s kindness are shown in this wonderful film. One of the professors at the observatory believes the comet will strike the following Sunday. Sniff is amazed as he looks at it through a big telescope, and he declares, “It’s beautiful and terrifying. It’s fire red and coming straight at us!”
The journey remains difficult, especially when they lose their tent. And they will soon come face to face with a giant octopus! Yet, there are still nice moments they experience. In a touching scene, when Moomintroll finds Snarkmaiden and gives her the bracelet along with a mirror as a gift, she in turn gives him a medal for him courage in returning the bracelet.
The weather goes from gusts to gales and the group finally make it back home, where they hide in a cave to wait to see what damage the comet does. Will the comet strike their home? Will they survive? How does the story end? You will have to watch to find out.
A previous review did not approve the movie, and the weird theme song at the beginning and end, by the Icelandic singer Bjork, was the reason why. It is hardly your typical children’s ditty, with its “clanking percussion, creepy crawly basslines” (a British newspaper’s assessment of the song) and especially because it contains the chorus line “comet, oh dammit.” Though that sentiment fits the subject matter, seems out of place in every other aspect. Spin Magazine, which is now a Webzine, called the song “typically avant-garde.”
Nevertheless, it seems overly harsh to paint the whole movie with the theme song brush. Rather, we warn you about it in a caveat, because this otherwise enjoyable movie has merited our Dove seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
This unique movie is a fun watch for kids with some wonderful lessons included along the way, not to mention a couple of catchy songs.