REVIEW: Robin Robin [2021]

Rating: 8 out of 10.
  • Rating: G | Runtime: 32 minutes
    Release Date: November 24th, 2021 (UK)
    Studio: Aardman Animations / Netflix
    Director(s): Daniel Ojari & Michael Please
    Writer(s): Daniel Ojari, Michael Please & Sam Morrison

Not bad for a couple of flightless fools, eh?


Familiarity means nothing as long as there’s enough heart. This is especially true with animated films such as Daniel Ojari and Michael Please‘s Aardman-produced short Robin Robin. We have seen the scenario many times: a lost egg finds its way to the home of a pack of mice on a scary rainy day, forcing Dad (Adeel Akhtar) to bring it inside and ultimately raise Robin (Bronte Carmichael) as his own. Like with most of these oddball situations, that which makes her different from them is initially presented as a flaw (she can’t sneak when breaking into human homes for crumbs) before eventually proving a boon (those wings might come in handy if she ever learns to use them). And that revelation’s drama is both entertaining and endearingly sweet.

Co-written by the directors and Sam Morrison, the comedic struggles Robin faces introduce two outsiders to help propel her onto this path of self-discovery. One is a friend: Richard E. Grant‘s “things”-obsessed Magpie with a broken wing. The other is a foe: Gillian Anderson‘s malicious cat. And it’s an unfortunate set-back where dinner is concerned that brings them all together since Robin hopes to make up for her “mistakes” (an inability to be quiet or careful) by bringing home enough food for the entire family herself. Since sticking to Dad’s plan is hard enough, though, going out alone won’t be much easier due to an unawareness of just how noisy she is (a truth that’s exposed when she tells Magpie to follow her lead … and he does).

The humor is just offbeat enough in parts to resonate with adults while the gorgeous felt puppetry work (this is Aardman’s first stop-motion production without plasticine) provides the type of characters and world to steal the attention of any child watching. Ojari and Please aren’t afraid to make the scary parts scary either with Anderson’s cat proving a formidable antagonist with the sort of nonchalant malice of old like the Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp. We feel the danger when it arrives and revel in the slapstick gags (as well as Magpie’s acerbic quips) used to ensure things never get too dark. Robin is finding the confidence to embrace her identity as both bird and mouse—an evolution of spirit that can overcome anything.


photography:
courtesy of ShortsTV

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