Moomins on the Riviera (4 stars)

Moomins on the Riviera

Elegant, hand-drawn animation which finds the childhood favourites on holiday

In these days of souped-up CGI animations, with relentless chases and Rihanna-inspired soundtracks, it’s heartening to see the return of the Moomins. Created by Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson, this family of gentle white hippo-like creatures and their oddball friends, living out a peaceful existence in Moominvalley, are the antithesis to cynical DreamWorks-manufactured characters.

Popularised by the 1970s Polish TV series, the Moomins have made it to the big screen before – for example in the mildly disappointing 3D effort Moomins and the Comet Chase (never released in the UK). This latest effort, however, is just the ticket. Helmed and produced by veteran French animation director Xavier Picard and the Finnish-born Hanna Hemilä, it harks back to Jansson's comic-strips, taking its story from an original Moomin adventure.

No prizes for guessing where the Moomins wind up – holidaying in the South of France, where they check into a five-star hotel under the name the ‘De Moomins’ and mix with aristocrats and film stars. It’s all too much for Moominmamma (voiced by Tracy-Ann Oberman) who heads to the beach to get away from the others, as they gamble in casinos and shop in glitzy boutiques. Sneakily satirising our fascination with celebrity culture, it’s a crafty story that doesn’t outstay its welcome.

The English voice-cast is led by Russell Tovey, who brings life to the adolescent Moomin as he moons after his girlfriend Snorkmaiden (voiced by debut actress Stephanie Winiecki), as her head is turned. While there’s also good work by Nathaniel Parker as Moominpappa, the real pleasure lies in the elegant hand-drawn animation. Admittedly, given its casual pacing, this might appeal more to adults than kids weaned on breathless action. But for those looking for something more thoughtful, tinged with nostalgia, then Moomins on the Riviera is spot-on.

General release from Fri 22 May.

Moomins on the Riviera

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • Finland / France
  • 1h 20min
  • U
  • Directed by: Xavier Picard, Hanna Hemilä
  • Cast: Russell Tovey, Nathaniel Parker, Tracy Ann Oberman, Stephanie Winiecki
  • UK release: 22 May 2015

The Moomins holiday in the South of France and fall in love with casino gambling and ritzy boutiques – all except for Moominmamma (Oberman), who heads for the beach. The elegant hand-drawn animation is a pleasure, although the casual pacing might not appeal to kids weaned on breathless action. A nostalgic treat.