The Other Side of Animation 245: Back to the Outback Review

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


Heads up: I was able to watch this series before its recent release via a screener sent to me by Netflix. I got no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank you, Netflix.

Netflix has been making a name for themselves with the teams and talented individuals they hire to craft their animated work. Streaming has opened up a much wider field for there to be differences within the animated medium. We have gotten shows and films that would not fly within the big studio scene, and it leads to a much healthier artistic freedom. Not to say there aren’t huge improvements to be made behind the scenes, because there absolutely are with how animators, writers, and entire teams are paid and treated, but you can still appreciate the work that they have made. Hopefully, things become better behind the scenes, because the products these talented individuals are making have been really fascinating. For example, this new animated film called Back to The Outback. 

Directed by Clare Knight and Harry Cripps, our story revolves around a group of “dangerous” animals at a zoo in Australia, because if you are going to have a film about dangerous animals, you might as well go the route and place it in a country with some of the deadliest animals around. Moving on, we are following the story of a Taipan snake named Maddie, voiced by Isla Fisher. She lives in a glass cage in the area of the zoo that has “dangerous” animals. These animals include a funnel-web spider named Frank, voiced by Guy Pearce, a thorny devil named Zoe, voiced by Miranda Tapsell, and a scorpion named Nigel, voiced by Angus Imrie. They are treated as the worst things ever, compared to their zoo counterpart, a koala named Tom/Pretty Boy, voiced by Tim Minchin. Pretty Boy is the star of the Zoo while everyone else is treated like garbage. After a crocodile is taken away after scaring a kid, Maddie and her friends decide to escape the zoo to head back to the outback! Unfortunately for them, they have to take Pretty Boy with them and are now on the run! They are being hunted down by a handler at the zoo named Chaz, voiced by Eric Bana, and his son named Ben, voiced by Diesel La Torraca. Can our gang of animals outmaneuver the humans and make it back to the wild?



Listen, this film is getting stuck between so many big releases and releases that aim for a more adult audience. It’s a real shame, because while it is a smaller story, the film itself is still creative with how it handles its themes. There is a lot of subtextual commentary with how the “dangerous” animals are portrayed, and how the zoo handlers get them ready for the show. There are so many little moments and details that you can pick up from the film’s animation beats, that the cutesy designs are almost there to really catch you off-guard with the subtext underneath the cuteness of the visual style. Even the villain, while nothing super memorable, follows through the themes of the film. There is nothing better than watching a film taking full advantage of the themes it lays out on the table for everyone to see. Throughout the entire film, the story itself has all of these little creative jokes and moments that play up the themes of the film in clever ways. Sure, on the surface this looks like a lot of smaller-scale animated films, but when you look past its cute designs and past the somewhat familiar trappings of most family-focused animated features, there is a lot to find admirable about how it talks about the subject matters. Even the comedy has a lot of wit via its dialogue and visual gags. If you are at all familiar with the history of animals in Australia, then some of these gags are going to be a laugh riot. 

Animation-wise, it gets the job done. The designs of the animals and humans are good. The animals themselves are expressive and they mesh well with the human characters. The voice cast is delightful, and they are all going at it like how most actors should be doing voice work. You know, like actual acting gigs. They all capture their characters perfectly. The cast is stacked with plenty of big names that include Isla Fisher, Tim Minchin, Guy Pearce, Miranda Tapsell, Angus Imrie, Eric Bana, Rachel House, Keith Urban, Celeste Barber, Wayne Knight, Jacki Weaver, Aislinn Derbez, and Diesel La Torraca. The soundtrack has the proper Australian vibe composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams, and there are a few songs that are sung by the characters in the film. It will definitely remind you that Keith Urban has a great singing voice. 

While the film suffers from some familiar story beats that we have all seen in road trip films, some characters are better fleshed out than others, and not all of the jokes hit, Back to the Outback is a wild romp that sets out to be a fun little animated adventure, and at the same time, deals with themes of discrimination. It’s on Netflix, so you have no excuse to miss out on it. Plus, Netflix, despite their many faults, was willing to let these directors and their talented team of writers and animators make a movie that was a surprise. Rarely do many films result in a positively surprising reaction. Now then, it’s time to dive into some screeners with My Sunny Maad. 


Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!

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