Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sam Hardy, Hannah Herman Cortes, Lilly Singh
Directors: Dave Rosenbaum, Eamonn Butler
Well, it looks like we have 2022’s first case of a solid movie that was released at the worst possible time for its success. When you think of Ireland and Irish culture, what’s the first that you think of? No, not Guiness, St. Patrick’s Day. If you delayed this movie to March, without a doubt in my mind it would have been an absolute hit. Riverdance: The Animated Adventure has some slick animation and an enjoyable plot that make it another solid addition to the Netflix animated catalog. It won’t be in the same league as their other projects like Vivo and The Mitchells vs the Machines, but it’s enjoyable for what it is and found a perfect home on a streaming service. Upbeat, stylistic, and original, Riverdance: The Animated Adventure is quick 86 minutes of fun for the whole family.
The film follows Keegan (voiced by Hardy), a young boy who is tasked with taking care of a lighthouse after the passing of his grandfather. Once he starts to take on this task, he and his classmate Moya (voiced by Cortes) find out that the river is home to several talking elk that have magical powers that keep the river flowing and the community safe. While this seems like a fun, exciting opportunity for the two kids, they also find out that the Huntsman (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) is seeking control of the river and wants to destroy the elk so he can harness their magical powers. It is now up to Keegan, Moya, and the elk to make sure that the Huntsman fails at his quest so the river and all of its inhabitants remain safe and sound. The first thing that pops out about this movie is the level of dance and the coordination of those scenes. I know the word “dance” is in the title of the movie, but it did an excellent job of capturing the essence and culture of Irish dance. This movie transported me back to a time in my life when I would pop in my Mom’s Riverdance VHS and watch as these elite performers took over the stage, and to replicate that for a younger generation in a way where they can comprehend it is quite impressive. I believe a large credit of this goes to the animation style and making a somewhat dated product feel fresh and new to a different type of audience. While I personally don’t care for how computerized a lot of the animation feels at times, I understand that this is appealing to the target audience, so I give the movie credit for what it has to do to make an impact in a competitive and crowded genre. Regarding the story, it’s definitely a standard story when it comes to a generic hero’s plot, but again look at who the target audience is. This isn’t the type of movie that should have tons of twists and turns or revolutionizes the movie industry, but it’s entertaining and serves the purpose it sets out to accomplish. Finally, the voice acting is more than enjoyable and allows the actor to be themselves and completely take control of their character. I enjoyed the fact that this movie uses almost exclusively Irish voice actors and as a result it feels more authentic when you hear someone’s real Irish accent coming from a character. Even though the elk tend to sound American or otherwise non-Irish, it works since they aren’t supposed to be talking in the first place and adds a level of mystique to the animals. Considering that these actors are also funny in a juvenile sense, it helps the movie blend between the actual plot moments and the jokey, fun moments that are required to make the movie feel balanced. It’s far from a perfect movie, but if we take the movie at face value and understand what it’s purpose is, then we’ll all see a movie that is harmless and generally fun. Netflix is the perfect place for a movie like this where more people would realistically have access to it versus a wide release that wouldn’t generate as much interest, so kudos to the studio for selecting the right distributor. I appreciate a nice, traditional, Irish movie regardless if it is animated or not, so seeing one in the format was a decent surprise, regardless of the level of total quality.
Overall, despite its poor marketing strategy and traditional yet typical plot, Riverdance: The Animated Adventure is enjoyable and introduces foreign audiences more into the wonder that is Irish dance. I don’t know how much of a draw this type of movie will be for younger audiences, but if it does end up being viewed by children, I think that they will enjoy it. I wish this movie came out in March so more people would be interested in seeing what it has in store, but we have to take what we’re given and give credit to movies when they are enjoyable. It’s a perfectly fine stream, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to make sure I see this movie. If you have some free time, some young kids, or an interest in Irish culture, there’s nothing wrong with spending 86 minutes seeing what Riverdance: The Animated Adventure has in store for you.
Final Thoughts: Stream It