Direction: Eamonn Butler and Dave Rosenbaum | Scenario: Dave Rosenbaum & Tyler Werrin | Cast (voices): Pierce Brosnan (grandfather and Patrick), Pauline McLynn (grandmother), Lilly Singh (Penny), Sam Hardy (Keegan), Hannah Herman Cortes (Moya), and others | Playing time: 90 minutes | Year: 2021
Ireland, with all its ancient myths and more contemporary cultural expressions, continues to inspire animators. After movies like Song of the Sea (2015) and Wolfwalkers (2020) Eamonn Butler and Dave Rosenbaum release an animated film about traditional Irish step dance. At least that’s what the title says River Dance: The Animated Adventure suggests. Because what is their directorial debut really about?
Through a short puppet show in a puppet theater we enter a small charming village located on the Irish coast. Everyone is cheerful, everyone is happy. Except for the three seagulls that fly against a signboard, traffic light and French door respectively. The puppet show introduces Keegan, a boy who never knew his parents and was raised by his grandparents. His grandfather runs a lighthouse and Keegan can be found there every day. Both hope that Keegan will take over from his grandfather.
That moment comes sooner than expected. Keegan is devastated and finds it difficult to process the loss of his great example. One day, Keegan’s Spanish girlfriend Moya takes him to a mythical world called Megaloceros Giganteus, where she teaches Keegan that life goes on after the death of a loved one. “Celebrate life, celebrate with dance!”
And there is some dancing in it River Dance: The Animated Adventure. Not only by the inhabitants of the village, but even the sweets in the candy shop dance around like a whirlwind and the moose of Megaloceros Giganteus can also do something about it. These dance scenes are energetic and the swirling music of the Irish composer Bill Whelan takes it up a notch, but unfortunately the computer animation is not convincing.
The same goes for the very sweet song that Moya sings: her lips don’t always move nicely to the lyrics. Yet you can see that Butler and Rosenbaum have done their best to create a magical world through colorful animation, where the amazingly beautiful landscape is often depicted from the perspective of the birds.
Unfortunately, bad guys also live in that mythical world, who don’t want the best for the animals that live there. The battle that ensues ensures that Keegan returns to his own world with more confidence. Go River Dance: The Animated Adventure actually really about Riverdance? Riverdance is translated several times in the film as dancing on the surface of the river. The question is whether Riverdance fans and dancers can appreciate this joke – assuming that this dance style is translated that way for humorous reasons.
Anyone who has ever seen a Riverdance show will not be blown away by the choreography of this film. River Dance: The Animated Adventure should be seen above all as an entertaining film for children, a first introduction to this Irish dance style and a comforting film about grieving. They will probably also appreciate the many silly jokes. And admittedly, the frogs imitating fireworks are quite funny.
River Dance: The Animated Adventure can be seen at Netflix.
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Review: Riverdance: The Animated Adventure [Netflix] (2021)
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