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Kids deserve better than Toopy and Binoo: Movie Review

Corus Entertainment
Corus Entertainment

There are countless children’s movies that grind on parents forced to bring their kids. There are bad films in their own right. And then there is Toopy and Binoo the Movie.

An unlikely entry into Canadian theatres this summer is a new animated film based on the popular television show and book series that began in 2005, featuring the (cute?) characters Toopy the mouse and Binoo the cat.

As a film writer, I walk into theatres hoping every movie will be terrific so I can excitedly write about it and encourage audiences to go. This is especially important for independent and Canadian-produced projects, which is always worth promoting and endorsing.

With that in mind, please trust me then that it’s physically painful to say that Toopy and Binoo is the worst movie of 2023 - it’s poorly animated, cheap, unfunny, self-contradictory, annoying, and dumb. Unless you are a toddler under the age of 4, you’ll be miserable sitting through this national disappointment.

The thin plot feels more like a padded episode stretched to be a movie rather than a full-length story that justifies a big screen adaptation. The basic premise follows Toopy and Binoo on a nonsensical fetch quest to find Binoo’s lost plush toy.

What follows are short segments barely stitched together following a gaggle of garish and weird looking animal character designs (especially Dorothy the cow and Magnificent Princess the horse) succumbing to Toopy jeopardizing their mission every chance they get.

Babies might possibly enjoy the bright colours and soft sound effects on screen. For adults, unfortunately, watching Toopy and Binoo the Movie is an endlessly unpleasant experience. While colourful and optimistic for toddlers, the script and visual effects are overly simple and often annoyingly juvenile.

There are two things that make Toopy and Binoo so grating to watch: the first is the squeaky lead vocal performance of Frank Meschkuleit as Toopy. While fine on television in ten minute episodes, listening to Toopy’s high-pitched cartoon voice for an hour and a half is almost painful.

Secondly, all of the side characters subplots are - for lack of a better word - stupid. Why is Dorothy the cow genie’s cell phone obsession a relevant story for preschool children? What’s supposed to be enjoyable about the Princess’ unforgivable rudeness? How can the bird brothers be so clumsy, but only specifically when the plot needs another event to stall the group’s search?

Worst of all, there’s hinting throughout the story Toopy may finally learn how wrong his selfish, ignorant and dismissive behaviour of his friends can be. But then the story abruptly ends without him ever having to confront his annoyances.

Being a Quebecois production, the film was actually originally made in French. While the English version of the film was audibly adjusted so the characters’s mouths match the new dialogue, it’s weird seeing all the backgrounds filled with all written dialogue in French.

Watching Toopy get away with his abusive and troublesome antics is bad enough. The ugly animation makes it worse. Facing the harrowing thought somehow this is best family entertainment Canada has to share with the world is a bleak and troubling idea.

But that’s not true: Paw Patrol is much better example of Canadian kids’ movies by far. If you want to bring kids to the cinema, go see the far better Elemental or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In the meantime, let’s leave Toopy and Binoo where they belong: on TV screens where they can be ignored by anyone who’s been to grade school.

Toopy and Binoo the Movie

2 out of 10

G, 1hr 24mins. Animated Family Comedy.

Directed by Dominique Jolie and Raymond Lebrun.

Starring Frank Meschkuleit, Lucinda Davis and Claudia Besso.

Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill & VIP and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.