I'm a Melbourne girl, born and bred, and new resident of Geelong. Fantabulous adventures await as I explore my gorgeous new city and the stunning Surf Coast. But don’t worry—I’ll be crossing the bridge regularly to get my Melbourne fix.
Published September 6th 2015
Blinky Bill goes bush in his biggest adventure yet
Well now, wasn't this exciting. Attending a preview screening of a brand new movie, before the general public. Hadn't ever done that before. So just like Blinky Bill, I was off on a new adventure.
The preview screening of Blinky Bill: The Movie was held at the Village cinemas in the Jam Factory, in the heart of Melbourne's Chapel Street. This was a bit of a thrill on its own—my outer-suburban self doesn't get into fancy-schmancy Chapel Street very often these days (actually, let's be honest: I don't go there at all anymore), and I must say, I felt quite the big-shot as I breezily waved my complimentary ticket at the ticket-sellers as I made my way up to cinema just before the allotted arrival time of 1.30pm. Oh, I could say that there was a press pass waiting for me, and that I was swiftly ushered behind a curtain to a seat with my name on it, but of course there wasn't (and I wasn't really expecting anything of the sort. Really, I wasn't). It was mainly just a zoo of excitable children and their frazzled parents, who'd most likely won their tickets through various competitions here and there, but the excitement in the waiting area in front of the theatre was palpable, and I still felt pretty special at being there.
The preview screening was at Chapel Street's famous Jam Factory
Sadly, I was dateless for this momentous occasion in my writing career. My darling niece and nephew had cancelled on me (four-year-olds can be so unreliable) as they were on a merry-go-round of going to crèche, getting sick, getting well, going back to crèche, picking up another bug…and so it goes on. And so while the little darlings were resting at home and trying to get well, I was there alone, perhaps attracting a few curious looks from parents as to why there was a thirty-something female at the screening of a kids movie, on her own…"Press", I wanted to say, "I'm with the press….".
Most guests were taking photos of their children in front of this sign...sadly, I was the only one taking a photo just of the sign...
So I stood by the perimeter of the waiting area, enjoying watching the children get even more animated with the pre-show festivities and hoped that their little bodies wouldn't burst with over-excitement before the movie even started. Two lovely ladies and their table of paints and glitter glammed up the faces of the little ones, and a man in a horrendously bright red vest and matching pants expertly twisted long squeaky balloons into koalas and kangaroos (as well as a few 'Elsa' balloons for the little girls obsessed with Frozen, who were perhaps not going to be placated with a koala balloon). Fluffy Blinky Bill ears were handed out to all the children (I managed to do the good-Auntie thing and snaffle a couple for my niece and nephew—so hard to hold a grudge against dates being cancelled by two sick four-year-olds), as well as little boxes of sultanas with a colourful picture of Blinky Bill on the box. At this stage, I was unsure if I was ever going to be able to go back to seeing a regular screening of a movie ever again—this was all pretty cool, even I didn't have any children in tow.
Eventually we filed into the cinema, the kids going crazy as they were let loose and darted up and down the stairs, looking for the best place to sit. Parents followed, arms filled with children's coats, abandoned balloons, empty juice boxes and snap-lock bags filled with homemade popcorn. And then there was me, clutching my little white and gold notebook, all ready to take notes (still hadn't figured out how I was going to write in a darkened theatre, but I had to look the part, didn't I?), while I looked for a seat where my aloneness wouldn't stand out too much (which of course it did—completely). A man at the front of the cinema talked into his microphone and welcomed us (could we feel any more special?!), gave out some lucky door prizes, then the lights dimmed, the screen lit up, and the movie started. Not even any advertisements or previews—yep, there's no way I can ever go back to a normal screening again.
So, onto the movie. Yes, this is supposed to be a movie review (you'd be forgiven if you hadn't realised this yet—my introduction has been, um, somewhat long…), so I'd best get to it. As Australia's best-loved koala, Blinky Bill is no stranger to the big screen, and Blinky Bill: The Movie is set to enchant a whole new generation of little Australians (and their parents). The bright and colourful graphics, quirky characters and often-hilarious one-liners of this latest movie are a far cry from my first memories of Blinky Bill, which were back in the days when the lovable koala was a puppet on the ABC series The New Adventures of Blinky Bill. He lived in real gum trees, with real-life actors—no fancy animations back then—and there was a crazy talking magpie too (or is my memory going a little hazy here?). Blinky Bill: The Movie is Blinky Bill for modern-times: it's funny, the cast is a roll-call of who's who in Australian entertainment, and whilst there are a couple of 'darker' themes and a few scary-ish scenes, it all ends happily ever after—as all good animated movies should.
Blinky goes bush, and meets a host of characters along the way, in his latest foray onto the big screen. Image from www.facebook.com/BlinkyBill
It all starts in Green Patch, where Blinky Bill lives peacefully among the gum trees with his parents and a bunch of friends (including Robert the lyrebird) who get up to all sorts of mischief. When Blinky's dad takes off on an adventure in search of the Sea of White Dragons, Blinky never expects he'll be gone for a year. Whilst Blinky's mum sadly accepts he mightn't be back, Blinky refuses to believe it—so he follows in his father's paw-steps, and takes off on an adventure of his own to search for his beloved dad.
The real adventures begin when Blinky makes it out of Green Patch and lands in the middle of an outback highway, with squashed lizards on the road, big, scary road train trucks hurtling by, and a roadhouse called Koala Joe's. It's there he encounters Sir Claude, an evil feral cat with one green eye and one purple, who makes it his mission to torment Blinky throughout his journey. But never fear, Blinky manages to thwart Sir Claude's plans every step of the way, with the help of the gaggle of friends Blinky meets during his outback odyssey to find his dad.
Nutsy is the zoo koala he 'rescues' along the road, and then along comes Jacko, the frill-necked lizard with the somewhat temperamental frill (Sir Claude refers to it as 'reptile dysfunction'—one of the snippets of adult humour sprinkled throughout the movie that got a raucous laugh from all the parents). Nutsy and Jacko accompany Blinky as he navigates the wild and unknown outback looking for the Sea of White Dragons, convinced that's where his dad is. The threesome come across a host of other characters, including the crazy old wombat, Wombo, who appears to be rip-roaring mad, and two wacky, fun-loving emus, Cheryl and Beryl, with their long fluttering eyelashes and purple beaks. Voiced by the brilliant Toni Collette, Cheryl and Beryl greet Nutsy and Blinky with a hilariously nasal "G'day petals, where are yous off to?", then tell them to "hop aboard darls" as the two furry koalas get a lift to the Sea of White Dragons (which they've since discovered is actually the scary, no one-comes-out-alive Croc Canyon) on the backs of the vivacious emus.
The movie is littered with phrases that only those from the land Down Under will understand—"Hang on a bilby whisker!", "What's for brekky, sweet cheeks?" and "Grab your gumnuts and run!"—which keep you entertained throughout the movie. And whilst Blinky Bill: The Movie is an animated feature, it still manages to showcase the beauty and vastness (and sometimes scariness) of the Australian outback, and does make you realise that we truly live in a pretty incredible country—even if we do have some of the creepiest creatures going around. I did wonder if the scenes at Croc Canyon were a tad scary for the little ones, or if the thought of Blinky's father going missing—or worse—was a bit too deep for small minds to take in, but the almost-lifelike cuddliness of Blinky and Nutsy, the bright colours and the funny characters are sure to outweigh any darkness and scary moments during the movie. Of course, good wins over bad, and without spoiling the end, Blinky and his father are eventually reunited, and return to Green Patch to reclaim it from the nasty Cranky the Goanna—who has renamed Green Patch 'Goannasburg' (he he he…another humorous moment for the adults).
Blinky's crazy adventures eventually come to an and, and thus, so did the movie. The audience gave a round of applause (always a good sign, don't you think, that the movie was a success, when the crowd claps at the end?), the kids repositioned their Blinky Bill ears back on top of their little heads, parents gathered up discarded jumpers and stray sultanas and I finished off my notes in my little notebook (turns out I could write while the movie was going—trying to read my scrawls afterwards was a bit of a different story though). My verdict? I thought it was wonderful, for children and adults alike. And sure, the Blinky Bill of 2015 is very different from the animated Blinky that appeared in the television series in the early nineties, but Blinky Bill: The Movie will again bring to life the funny, furry koala to the next generation of little Australians. Released on 17 September 2015, just in time for the school holidays, the movie will create a whole new set of Blinky Bill memories for children all over Australia. Me? I'll add them to my long-ago, slightly-fuzzy-around-the-edges memories of watching Blinky Bill after school as a stuffed puppet, living in a real gum tree, on a television set that had less than ten buttons and needed you to get up to change the channel. Blinky Bill, you're still Australia's favourite koala.