“Moomins on the Riviera” is a lovely Finnish-French animated feature with gentle laughs under the soft sunshine of nostalgia. It doesn’t aspire to be more than a two-dimensional cartoon, partly in homage to its creator. The Moomins are famous in Europe, including the United Kingdom, but for many this film will serve as an introduction. “Moomins on the Riviera” opened Dec. 4 at the Laemmle Royal.

Moomin is a comic strip created by Tove Jansson in 1947. Jansson was a Finnish novelist and artist, but she is best known for her Moomin children’s books. She was awarded a Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1966 for her contribution to children’s literature. Her family was part of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. There is a Moomin Museum and even a Moomin theme park.

What exactly is a Moomin? They look like hippos, but are not. The main character was called Moomintroll. They are a family of Moomin (Russell Tovey), his father Moominpappa (Nathaniel Parker) and Moominmamma (Tracy Ann Oberman). Moomin has a friend, Snorkmaiden (Stephanie Winiecki) who is also a Moomin. They live in Moominvalley in Moominhouse. The Moominhouse is a round blue house that is shaped like a ceramic fireplace.  Snorkmaiden is also a Moomin and Moomin’s friend and playmate.

People do enter their world in the form of LittleMy, her older sister  Mymble and Snufkin who is their half-brother.”Moomins on the Riviera” is based on original comic strips, but adds Littlemy and Mymble via pirates.

When the Moomins set off for the Riviera, Littlemy and Snorkmaiden come along for the journey. The fearless Littlemy is a favorite character of fans. They brave a storm and stop at a desert island, but that is nothing compared to the dangers of the rich and famous on the Riviera. In the Riviera, Snorkmaiden meets a movie star, including Audrey Glamour (Shelley Blond) and begin to live a fabulous life, flattered by a particular playboy. Moomin is jealous. Moominmamma prefers a simpler lifestyle. Moominpapa befriends Marquis Mongaga (Philippe Smolikowski) who wants to live the life of a poor bohemian artist.

You can get your introduction to the Moomins in this adventure “Moomins on the Riviera.” Originally released in October of last year in Finland, the animated feature is making its Oscar qualification run in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Royal, screening there until Dec. 10. “Moomins on the Riviera” will open to a wider release next year. For more information, visit the official website.

 

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