Dallas International Film Festival Review: Oddball

Dallas International Film Festival Review: Oddball

Have you ever seen a film that starts out by announcing it is “based on true events?” The odds are, you HAVE, but have you ever seen a movie, which says that it is “a fairy tale that also happens to be true?” Well, if you have NOT, this is the simple declaration made by the makers of the Australian, family-friendly film “Oddball.” Right away, the positive music and bright, cheery setting are set to make the audience feel uplifted and poised to witness an enchanting story. You might even think that the titular character is the tubby, unkempt chicken farmer, known by his peers as “Swampy” Marsh. However, the REAL “Oddball” is none other than his great, white inept herding dog, which happens to go by the name “Oddball.” That sure is a coincidence!

Shane Jacobson (“The Dressmaker”) is the aforementioned “Swampy.” He is bright, but eccentric; well meaning, but disastrous. If you do not grow tired of him early on in the movie, just give it more time, for he is prevalent.

Alongside Jacobson are: Coco Jack Gillies as his granddaughter, Olivia, Sarah Snook (“Steve Jobs”) as Emily Marsh and Alan Tudyk (“Zootopia”) as Emily’s boyfriend, Bradley Slater.

I must say that I have never come across any community, anywhere, that would make the consequences of a misbehaved dog a high priority, but I am not from small town roots, so maybe I am just out of touch. Meanwhile, a small island near the town, which inhabits a small population of penguins, is facing complete shutdown from the community officials, as well. Somehow, EVERY one of the primary characters is involved in this process. “Swampy” yearns for his dog to be free, Olivia is a confidant for her grandfather AND her mother, Emily is a part of a team of scientists who are desperately trying to keep the island open for the penguins and Bradley wants to make his mark as an international business by turning a profit, which involves the same island housing the wayward penguins.

Anybody who has ever seen a “kids” film knows what the outcome is likely to be. Does it help that this IS based on a true story? Yes, I believe it does. It means that the sappy, sweet ending does not have to stay in the dream world. However, outside of the well-groomed landscapes and effective music cues, throughout “Oddball,” the story lacks real depth and fails to stay interesting past a certain point in the plot. Who really knows how much of the story was altered with the purpose of enhancing the excitement of the tale? Maybe Stuart McDonald and Peter Ivan know for sure. I REALLY wanted to like this movie, but time only served to make the film more annoying, as a spectator, and I can think of no real, redeemable qualities, all-around. Many kids may like it, though, and perhaps those who accompany them will find just enough entertainment to suit their needs for a single viewing of “Oddball.” I did NOT.

Official Trailer:

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