Movie: Back to the Outback
Reviewer: Aishah Saleeman
Release date: 2021
Directors: Clare Knight & Harry Cripps
Back to the Outback is a Netflix movie released in December, 2021. It is an animated movie filled with comedy and suspense. It has strong messages about friendship, personality being more important than looks, not judging a book by its cover and self-belief.
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To celebrate the Aussie film coming to our screens in time for the summer holidays, hundreds of families were invited to join Netflix in welcoming the outback to Sydney Harbour with an immersive family experience.
The Back to the Outback park popped up at the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park this December and featured thrilling escape courses, reptiles and unique activities for the whole family to experience.
It was a real treat for those children craving a bit of the outback after sinking their innocent fangs into the fun film. And that is what a film like Back to the Outback does. It ignites all that bravery, curiosity and sense of adventure we want our children to discover within themselves. “Monsters; that’s what they think we are in here…” these were among sad words uttered by the movie’s main character, Maddie, a “Dangerous” inland taipan snake which can kill a human in mere seconds. At least that is what every visitor to the zoo is told when they enter the reptile section. It is a description that Maddie (voiced by Isla Fisher) hates hearing, because, despite her scary fangs, she is quite friendly. Pretty Boy (a koala) was seen to be in the spotlight among kids in a world of animals (park). He addresses other animals with resentment, calling them names ugly and stupid. Maddie (an inland taipan), Frank (a funnel spider) and some other dangerous animals were set to return to their families at the outback after being seen and treated as dangerous and ugly in the zoo.
Maddie, expecting her trainer (Chaz) to show her off to the visitors was stereotyped and presented as dangerous. She becomes fed up with being locked up for people to gawk at her, so she convinces her mates – Frank, a purple lovelorn funnel-web spider, Nigel, a sensitive scorpion, and Zoe, a thorny devil lizard, to escape their quarters and return to the outback where they belong. The only problem is, Pretty Boy, the zoo’s most treasured koala, unexpectedly joins in on the adventure as they make their way through Sydney to the outback, trying to stay one step ahead of Chaz and his son. While trying to escape, they meet some other animals who rescue them from dangers along the way. These animals are known as USS (Ugliest Secret Society), with the password “I’m ugly, you are ugly, we should all be ugly. Ugly is the new beautiful’’. With this, they help each other when in trouble. On arrival at the outback, they are welcomed by other animals. There is a decent message in Back to the Outback about not buying into false impressions of an entire species and also in how the downtrodden band together.
The crew of reptiles trying to get back home might be the ones you would find in any “Australia’s deadliest animals” book, but in this film, they are quite the opposite. In their case, beauty truly does come from within.
Jokes and silly laugh-out-loud moments are throughout. This movie portrays the need to treat animals with respect and help each other – no matter how different we look. And how right they are!
Australia is home to such diverse and unique animals, critters and plants that we should celebrate their uniqueness and protect them.
As fun and enjoyable for kids, so it is for adults. There are plenty of adult-only jokes thrown in there, like when the tarantula wants to breed, or the references to Steve Irwin when Chaz talks about his past.
Cast: Isla Fisher as Maddie, a blue kind-hearted inland taipan; Tim Minchin as Pretty Boy, a popular but irritable koala; Eric Bana as Chaz Hunt, a zookeeper who pursues the escaped animals; Guy Pearce as Frank, a purple lovelorn funnel-web spider; Miranda Tapsell as Zoe, a dark grey self-assured thorny devil; Angus Imrie as Nigel, an Orange sensitive marbled scorpion; Keith Urban as Doug, a cane toad who lives in a school; Jacki Weaver as Jackie, a motherly saltwater crocodile; Diesel La Torraca as Chazzie Hunt, Chaz’s adventure-seeking son; Kylie Minogue as Susan, a Razorback; Rachel House as Jacinta, a friendly great white shark with barnacles in her teeth; Celeste Barber as Skylar, a vapid and shallow koala; Wayne Knight as Phil, a platypus; Aislinn Derbez as Legs, a female redback spider; Lachlan Power as Dave, a tough Tasmanian devil.