The Plot: After 147 days at sea, the 50,000 animals on the ark are getting cabin fever. They’re anxious to find land and thereby a new home. Forever curious, Finny (Max Carolan) and Leah (Ava Connolly) run riot on the ark and get themselves into trouble. They soon find themselves overboard and lost at sea where they make a new friend, Jelly (Carly Kane). Eventually they reach land where Finny finds himself among birds of a feather – a colony of fellow Nestrians. That’s not all they have to contend with – there’s also a raging volcano threatening to spoil the party…
The Verdict: Children’s animation Two By Two: Overboard! has the slight misfortune of opening at the same time as the Number 1 film at the newly-reopened Irish box office: Wolfwalkers. While nobody is likely to mistake the two films, they’re both from homegrown animation outfits. Irish animation frequently punches above its weight on the world stage. This sequel to the 2015 original (which like its predecessor has different titles depending on territory) comes from Galway-based Moetion Films. It reached Number 1 at the mid-term UK box office back in October, so that should be an indication of some success in an admittedly compromised theatrical marketplace. There’s room for these two Irish-produced animations to come in two by two.
The plot isn’t all that much to write home about it. It’s basically an adventure film involving two misfit animals as they try to find a place within both their tribe and greater ecosystem on the ark and in the Nestrian colony that they find themselves in. Cue much frantic racing around as Finny and Leah try to fit in, organise an evacuation and dodge an erupting volcano. It’s a bit like Angry Birds or Trolls, loaded with bright primary colours and with occasional scatterings of avian humour. There’s also some obligatory kid-friendly messaging about getting over differences and youngsters finding their place in the world as well. That’s fine for children, but there’s not a lot here to appeal to their parents.
The film is stronger on the animation side. Populated with American accents and a fleeting Irish accent here and there, it could easily be taken for a generic Dreamworks-style animated film. For an Ireland-Luxembourg co-production though, there’s a notable level of detail in the animation right down to the fur (a tricky thing to animate) on the Nestrian birds. It looks better than your average European animation, though the lipsync is a bit wobbly. The colourful worlds depicted by co-directors Toby Genkel and Sean McCormack make for a visually appealing and colourful film that just about holds up the flimsy, creaking ark plot. Little ones should be entertained. While it’s unremarkable filmmaking, Two By Two: Overboard! is not without its charms either.
Rating: 2.5 / 5
Review by Gareth O’Connor
Two By Two: Overboard! (Ireland / Luxembourg / G / 86 mins)
In short: Has its charms
Directed by Toby Genkel, Sean McCormack.
Starring Max Carolan, Ava Connolly, Carly Kane, Tara Flynn, Mary Murray.