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By Charlie David Page
13th September 2015

First it was pigs herding sheep. Now it's dogs herding penguins. Strange but true - 'Oddball' is based on real-life events of a dog that saved a fairy penguin colony in Warrnambool. But is this another tacky Aussie film, or something that rises above the rest?

Emily Marsh (Sarah Snook) is in charge of Middle Island and its occupants - a handful of little penguins. The population has been in steady decline since foxes discovered a way to swim out to the island, and the sanctuary is in danger of being shut down if numbers fall too low. Emily's loose-cannon father Swampy (Shane Jacobson) and his equally unpredictable dog Oddball come to the rescue with a top-secret plan... But can the problematic pooch save the day?

So yes, it's an Aussie film, and yes, it's a little corny. If you're willing to put that aside and go along for the ride, you're bound to enjoy yourself. The core trio of Jacobson, Snook and Coco Jack Gillies (who plays Emily's daughter Olivia) are a solid, if not dysfunctional, family unit. Alan Tyduk as small-town outsider gets the job done, but doesn't get the fun ride the other three characters take. Most importantly, the kids will love it - there was no end of giggles in the screening I attended.


This film was a co-production with National Geographic, and it shows. The shots are spectacular documentary-style, with impeccable close-ups of the real stars - the film's animal cast. The penguins are a joy to watch, the foxes as the baddies are sinister and sneering, the chickens bring a touch of comedy, and Kai as our Maremma hero Oddball is about as loveable a mutt as you could ask for. Following suit, the Victorian coastline is shown in fine form, with stunning shots of the Twelve Apostles interspersed throughout.

If you're after a heartwarming family film, 'Oddball' will tick all the boxes. Maybe it's not quite 'Babe', but it's still a fanatically fun experience. Cute animals, a solid cast, top cinematography and hijinks aplenty - what more could you want?

RELEASE DATE: 17/09/2015
RUN TIME: 1h 35m
CAST: Shane Richardson
Sarah Snook
Richard Davies
Deborah Mailman
Alan Tyduk
DIRECTOR: Stuart McDonald
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