After I finished watching Little Gobie, I had to ask myself the following question: are children really this dumb?
Little Gobie is the story of a young reckless reindeer who has a thing for snowboarding, but with a hoverboard. One day while out on the slopes, Gobie and one of his pet dragons Bebe, get into a horrible accident when an avalanche occurs. Gobie had ignored the warnings and had taken the shortcut, and as a result his friend gets injured. Things don’t look good for Bebe, so Gobie decides to set off for Santaland, in this hopes that he can find Santa before Christmas.
Little Gobie is very obviously aimed at children, probably between the ages of four and six, with absolutely no content for adults (except for one line that’s hilarious if it’s taken slightly out of context).
The major problem I have with Little Gobie is that everything is spoon-fed to you. There’s a narrator that points out the moral aspects of the movie – as an adult, I find this very annoying, and I’m sure some children would as well. There are plenty of children’s movies that deal with heavy issues, but they don’t slap you in the face with lines like “If only Gobie had listened to the warnings.” Most of the major animation studios, such as Dreamworks, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli, seem to understand that you don’t need to force an idea down someone’s throat to get them to understand. The Iron Giant speaks volumes about sacrifice, without ever mentioning the word; Spirited Away teaches children to be wary of greediness through punishing gluttonous characters in the story; Pinocchio learns about lies and how they can hurt the people you love.
Also, Little Gobie more often than not also has someone that points out exactly what’s going on. This is annoying because if you do your job properly you shouldn’t need to do this in any movie, you really should be able to see what’s going on. In all fairness there are a few children who can see something and just not get it (and maybe this is the same group that Gobie’s narrator is aimed at). I remember watching Kung-fu Panda 2 in the cinema, and it gets to a scene where Po is shot with a very big and obviously very nasty cannon – there was one little girl in the audience who didn’t understand that getting shot in the face with a giant cannon generally doesn’t end well, since she had to ask her mom why Po was lying down.
Things don’t get any better for Little Gobie as the budget is obviously very low. You know things aren’t good when the original Toy Story (which was released in 1995) looks better than your cg animated movie (which was released 15 years later). Poor character animation, effects, texturing, lighting, lip syncing… just about everything is done poorly.
The voice acting is also pretty bad, with most of the lines sounding forced or just plain terrible. They clearly hired people with little to no experience for cheap which just adds to the frustration of the experience since there’s really no good excuse for this. There are plenty of people who do voice acting for television, and I’m sure they don’t cost an arm and a leg to hire. Maybe there was literally no budget left by the time they got around to casting voices for the characters.
What about the characters themselves? Gobie is annoying with the amount of idiotic things he does in the beginning of the movie, but even as the movie progresses he does very little to change or grow. More often than not he’s a helpless child who gets saved by one of his friends, or breaks down crying. His pet dragon Kuma? He doesn’t have a voice at all and uses little signs to indicate what he’s saying. He’s not very funny and doesn’t really feature that much in the start of the movie. Nick, who Gobie meets on the way to Santaland, ends up being more of a hero than Gobie since he seems to be there solely to help Gobie out.
There’s also the very strange places that Gobie explores. I’m all for magic and fantasy but even I had to stop and ask myself what was going on when Gobie arrives in a city filled with doughnuts that have arms and legs, but don’t have any eyes or mouths. The locations are all strange without having much specific purpose in regards to the story.
Little Gobie is very obviously aimed at children younger than six.
The Bottom Line
Little Gobie is a low-budget cg animated movie for children that will struggle to compete against any CG animated movie that’s ever been released in cinema. Even relatively poor CG animated films like Alpha and Omega are far more entertaining to watch than this movie. It might have some appeal with really young kids, but if they’ve seen anything from Pixar/Dreamworks/Disney, they’ll probably get bored very quickly.
About the writer
Rowan Govender, a writer and artist who is more commonly known by his pen name Rowango, graduated from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal with an Honors degree in Media in 2006. He relocated to Cape Town in 2007 to pursue his interest in writing and film. He is currently employed part time in the Technical Writing industry, while he pursues personal creative projects.