DVD REVIEW: RIBBIT / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: CHUCK POWERS / SCREENPLAY: AMIR HAFIZI, CHUCK POWERS / STARRING: SEAN ASTIN, TIM CURRY, RUSSELL PETERS, CHERAMI LEIGH / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 30TH
Expectations for new animated films are always going to be high. While the word “classic” is bandied about with often flippant overuse, there are films such as Frozen, Despicable Me and the Toy Story trilogy that with the passing of time may one day lay claim to that sought after moniker. With that in mind, Ribbit from KRU Studios doesn’t do anything to warrant even slightly memorable status let alone approach consideration as a classic.
Ribbit (Astin) is a frog with identity issues. He doesn’t like jumping, he doesn’t like water, and to make matters even worse he’s poisonous. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn’t belong with the rest of the leaping, swimming amphibians, and following some rather iffy advice from Deepak (Peters), a doctrine spouting vampire bat with questionable motives, he sets off to find his true purpose accompanied by best friend Sandy (Leigh), a flying squirrel.
The problem with Ribbit is that it’s hard to know exactly who it’s aimed at. On one webbed foot, there is no humour aimed at adults; there are no knowing references or cheeky winks that would court the parental vote, and while this is not a bad thing in the right film, it diminishes any grown-up appeal Ribbit might have had. On the other foot, there are moments that might be lost on the younger, single digit-aged demographic, one in particular involving what appear to be German-speaking tourists of unknown creature origin that occasionally require the inclusion of subtitles when speaking in their own language. As such, younger interest may also wain pretty quickly.
The central story itself draws on classic fairytale material for its inspiration, and uses this to repeatedly hammer home its relevant if overly-used message. As the titular frog embarks on his “journey” to discover himself, he somehow convinces himself that deep down he is actually a prince and all he needs is a little lip action from a willing princess to restore him to this true form. Throughout his quest he is constantly being told to “just be himself” and “you are who you’re supposed to be”; moral edicts that fall on deaf ears until the predictable self-realisation in the final act. The blunt, formulaic wielding of this central theme further alienates the viewer and if anything comes across as a little patronising.
Sadly Ribbit doesn’t do anything to earn the right to repeat viewing. There are no scenes of note and no moments any viewer of any age will deem worthy of repetition. While the film may look nice in places, although the 3D is clunky and uninspiring, this is a disappointing film that will struggle to find an audience. Perhaps not only the frog has identity issues.
Special Features: Making of Ribbit / “Magical Moment” music video
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