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Puffin Rock and the New Friends


Stars: Voices: Eva Whittaker, Beth McCafferty, Aaron MacGregor, Euan McGrath, Chris O'Dowd (narrator)

Director: Jeremy Purcell

Shorn of 12 minutes from its original print, this ecologically-minded Irish cartoon feature for younger children (based on the TV series from a few years back) has a charm and directness that will appeal to three-to-five-year-olds who will love its colourful backdrops - despite this being a rock, there's plenty of greenery and other animal life around - while the gentle background music by Eberg is in keeping with the film's delicate handling of its story.

Isabelle, a purple puffin (don't ask), voiced by Whittaker, is a newcomer to Puffin Rock with her parents, after her previous home was destroyed in a storm, and, feeling out of place after her folks fly off, she soon gets into all sorts of scrapes. To protect it from bad weather, she hides away the Little Egg that's the last of the season, and which provides the McGuffin for the film's action, as the distraught parents attempt to effect its recovery.

As well as entertaining, the film, made by the same team that gave us The Secret of Kells (though this isn't quite in that class) seeks to be instructional, as the chortling narrator (O'Dowd) provides young watchers with key pieces of of information about puffins, gulls, otters, crabs, rabbits and pigmy shrews, making it almost a puffin primer for tiny tots.

But Marvin the otter kit (MacGregor) being smaller than the adult puffins takes more swallowing than the dozens of fish the puffins can cram into their brightly-coloured beaks.

The deliberately unsophisticated animation (although all the creatures are engagingly drawn), jolting at first, gradually exerts its own charm, while parents taking their infants along won't find this too much of a strain to sit through - especially at its new, shorter length.

David Quinlan

Ireland 2023. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Colour (unspecified).
80 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 12 Aug 2023