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Animated 'Blinky Bill: The Movie' is sure to be popular in Australia but may bewilder U.S. audiences

Animated 'Blinky Bill: The Movie' is sure to be popular in Australia but may bewilder U.S. audiences
Blinky Bill, voiced by Ryan Kwanten, appears in a scene from the animated film "Blinky Bill: The Movie." (Flying Bark / Shout! Factory Films)

Since he first appeared in a series of children's books more than 80 years ago, Blinky Bill the koala has remained a popular character in Australia, appearing in hand-drawn TV series and features. "Blinky Bill: The Movie," a new CG film, may leave American audiences wondering why the character has such a following.

Despite his mother's orders, Blinky Bill (voice by Ryan Kwanten) sets out to find his adventurer father (Richard Roxburgh), who's been missing for a year. In his absence, Mayor Cranklepot (Barry Otto), a nasty goanna lizard, has tried to take over the animal town of Green Patch. Along the way, Blinky picks up Nutsy (Robin McLeavy), a girl koala on her way from one zoo to another; Jacko (David Wenham), a frill-necked lizard; assorted other friends and an enemy, Sir Claude (Rufus Sewell), a feral cat.

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None of the characters ever stops nattering as the group heads through the desert in a rather predictable series of misadventures. In addition to the bodily function jokes that have become a standard of "family" movies, the characters spit into their paws before shaking hands on a deal — not a behavior parents will want kids imitating.

"Blinky Bill" proves that CG animation has reached a point where even a low-budget film can include realistically rendered feathers and fur. But even the most sophisticated software can't give characters a sense of weight or a way of moving that suggests their personality. Nor can it create an engaging story. Sadly, director Deane Taylor and his crew fail to provide those elements.

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'Blinky Bill: The Movie'

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

MPAA rated: PG, for some rude humor

Playing: Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena

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