Star Rating:

Puffin Rock and the New Friends

Director: Jeremy Purcell

Actors: Chris O'Dowd, Amy Huberman, Eva Whittaker

Release Date: Friday 14th July 2023

Genre(s): Animation, Family

Running time: 79 minutes

Oona (voice of Eva Whittaker) lives on the island of Puffin Rock with her younger sibling, Baba, and her parents (Amy Huberman). When a storm brings a whole host of new creatures to the island, Oona helps newcomers Phoenix and Isabelle settle into life on the island, but when the last egg of the season disappears, they must set out on an adventure together to find it...

For those with little ones, 'Puffin Rock' is no doubt familiar and soothing like a favourite blanket or a warm set of slippers. Much of that same comfort and familiarity is replicated on the big screen for 'Puffin Rock and the New Friends', reuniting the likes of Chris O'Dowd's sonorous tones and the beautiful animation of Dogs Ears and Cartoon Saloon. There's a kind of warmth to it all that makes it so stark in comparison with the fizziness of something from Illumination or Disney and Pixar. Maybe it's the kind of hand crafted appeal or maybe it's just the soft visual tones of it all, but 'Puffin Rock and the New Friends' has an appeal all of its own and uniquely Irish to boot.

The cast is a host of familiar voices, like Chris O'Dowd's good-humoured narration, mixed with names like Amy Huberman and 'Bad Sisters' alum Eva Birthistle in there as new cast members. You get the sense that the cast assembled understands the soft approach that the show goes for. There's no harshness in any of it, not even when the seagulls turn up as the villains for a certain spell. Indeed, seagulls are much more violent and despicable in real-life than they are in this.

At a brisk 79 minutes long, 'Puffin Rock and the New Friends' keeps the threat and the action light and frothy, because there really isn't anything too dark or foreboding about any of it. While climate change is the driving force behind the new arrivals on the island, the cast of characters are blissfully unaware of humanity's role in their problems. Instead, they move on and adapt as they can, their resilience and ingenuity matched to the resourcefulness of new arrivals to the island. 'Puffin Rock and the New Friends' takes on the idea of integration in a community in such a slight way that you don't really fully grasp the importance of it until the credits roll.

Colourful and vibrant without being harsh or insistent, 'Puffin Rock and the New Friends' will delight younger audiences and those bringing them as well.