When you have over a billion views on YouTube, you must be doing something right.
With its unique brand of heart and humour, Toopy and Binoo has been a beloved fixture in Canadian homes for over a decade. While their adventures of the animated duo have always targeted younger viewers, their silliness continues to reach new generations of children. (In fact, my own 13-year-old still has a place in his teenage heart for the two lovable characters.) Now, after all this time, the impetuous mouse and his silent friend (and let’s not forget Patchy-Patch, their beloved stuffy) have finally made the jump to the Big Screen in Toopy and Binoo: the Movie.
Directed by Raymond Lebrun and Dominique Jolin, Toopy and Binoo: the Movie follows the beloved friends as they encounter a genie named Dorothy who offers them three wishes. When a mishap leads to the disappearance of Patchy-Patch, the trio set out on an adventure to the ‘Lost and Found’, where they hope to bring their stuffy home. However, along the way, they find themselves facing numerous obstacles that threaten to derail their quest.
To be fair, Toopy and Binoo has always been a show that’s focused on younger kids. And the film is no different. To be in Binoo. Unlike other major, animated franchises, this is not a film that goes for broke with musical numbers or high-octane information. Instead, to its credit, Binoo focusses itself on the magic that makes the show continue to work. To be remains a mouse who is relatively, unaware with the world around him and Binoo, as his silent companion, cleaning up the impetuous mouses mess wherever he goes.
In some ways, Toopy and Binoo is reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz. After all, both films tell the stories of a ragtag group of misfits on the journey to a mysterious land, each looking for answers to their own issues. What’s more, both stories feature magical dreamscapes where anything can happen—and frequently does. (In fact, even the genie’s name is Dorothy.)
However, what separates the two films is their tone. Whereas Oz gives its whimsy a darker edge, Toopy never strays from the imaginative nature (and borderline insanity) of the series. This is a film that features a pyramid that contains the Almighty Choo-Choo, a crying rock monster, and an adventure into Toopy’s brain. (And yes, for adults, these moments are is trippy as they sound. Lol) Even so, there is such a spirit of innocence and joy about these characters that one can’t help but hop on the banana car and go for the ride.
Fueling the adventure are a host of new friends who travel along with them. A magnificent princess, ‘twin’ bird brothers, and the genie with a cell phone addiction are all along for the treacherous adventure to the Lost and Found and each keeps the adventure interesting in their own way.
Having said this, it’s also worth noting that Toopy and Binoo also avoids any particularly grand messaging. While one character learns the value of being nice, conversations that lead to the change are surprisingly not heavy-handed. What’s more, the twins’ search for their father reveals their love for him, yet this isn’t really a film about parents either. Even the playfully overconfident Toopy learns very little about himself along the journey, despite his insistence that he’s great at everything. Unlike other animated franchises that use their stories as a platform, Toopy keeps its emphasis on the respect of its characters.
In sort, like the series, the film emphasizes silliness over sermons.
If anything, Toopy and Binoo simply shows the value of having friends and the importance of helping out along the journey. If anything, the most profound aspect of the film is the subtle messaging that ‘All Roads Lead to the Lost and Found’. Without putting too fine a point on it, there’s a genuine sense that, no matter what these characters face, they’re going to make it to their destination. For children, this is a particularly valuable lesson to learn, especially as they encounter their own challenges in their own journeys.
But Toopy and Binoo: the Movie refuses to hammer the viewer with its messaging.
Instead, it simply does exactly what any film based off a beloved children’s series should do: it takes the best aspects of the show and simply lets the characters be themselves, albeit on a grander scale. Admittedly, there will be those who tut-tut at a film of this nature. Targeting younger viewers, Toopy and Binoo is silly, strange and sweet for its audience. However, for fans of the series, this is an absolute celebration of what drew them in in the first place.
No matter what age they are.
Toopy and Binoo: the Movie is available in theatres on Friday, August 11th, 2023.