Oddball (extended to Oddball and the Penguins in some regions) is a 2015 Australian family film directed by Stuart McDonald. It was released in September 2015 and stars Shane Jacobson, Coco Jack Gillies, Sarah Snook and Alan Tudyk. It is based on a true story.
On Middle Island off the coast of Warrnambool, Fairy Penguins have made their home, but foxes have found the island and have reduced the population of penguins. An eccentric chicken farmer named Swampy teams up with his granddaughter to train their mischievous dog, Oddball, to protect the penguins from these predators in an attempt to reunite his family and save their seaside town. As the penguin population shrinks, the Island stands to lose it's penguin sanctuary status and is set to become a whale watching spot for tourists. However since Oddball starts to protect the penguins, the penguin population starts to stabilize until one day Swampy cannot find Oddball on the Island. He is eventually found by the dog catcher who picked him up on the roadside inside town limits (the town being strictly off limits to Oddball). Swampy in the meantime discovers a tranquilizer dart beside the penguins on the island and comes to realize that not everyone wants to save the penguins. Will Swampy and Oddball be able to protect the penguins or will the Island become a whale watching station?
- Shane Jacobson as Swampy
- Coco Jack Gillies as Olivia
- Sarah Snook as Emily Marsh
- Alan Tudyk as Bradley Slater
- Terry Camilleri as Judge Burns
- Deborah Mailman as Mayor Lake
- Richard Davies as Jack Jones
- Frank Woodley as Dog Catcher
- Tegan Higginbotham as Zoe
The film had its North American premiere at the opening weekend of Indianapolis's Heartland Film Festival in October, 2015 and opened the Toronto International Film Festival for Kids in 2016. It was an Official Selection, playing opening weekend at Chicago International Children's Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival, Sonoma Film Festival, Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital in Washington D.C., Cleveland Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, Miami International Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, and Traverse City Film Festival, among others. It also received a special screening at Utah's Tumbleweeds Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Oddball received positive reviews from critics and audiences, earning a 83% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Luke Buckmaster of The Guardian wrote "Some kinks in the writing notwithstanding, Oddball is fun and thoughtfully minded, with a sweet charm that endears from the get-go." Erin Free of Filmink wrote "Oddball's brand of fun-with-heart will hopefully click with local kids and their parents too." Matt Neal of "The Standard" gave a positive review, saying "You'd have to be heartless to hate Oddball."(citation needed)
Jake Wilson of the Sydney Morning Herald gave a negative review, writing "Unfortunately, they appear to have lost sight of the golden rule for family movies of this type, which is to keep the focus squarely on the animals or, failing that, on the kids." Sandra Hall, also of the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote "Jacobson is so intent on its efforts to firm up Swampy's credentials as an impractical but inspired eccentric that he's in danger of turning him into a gormless irritant."
As of 27 October 2015 the film has grossed $10.1 million at the Australian box office. the Final Australian theatrical box office for Oddball hit $11 million in December 2015 and went on to be the top-grossing Australian Family Film of 2015.
|Best Cinematography||Damian Wyvill||Nominated|
|People's Choice Award for Favourite Australian Film||Stuart McDonald||Nominated|
|AFCA Award||Best Supporting Actress||Sarah Snook||Nominated|
|FCCA Awards||Best Children's Film||Sheila Hanahan||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Young Actor||Coco Jack Gillies||Won|
|Mill Valley Film Festival||Audience Award for Best Family Film||Stuart McDonald||Won|
|Screen Music Awards||Feature Film Score of the Year||Cezary Skubiszewski||Nominated|
|Seattle International Film Festival||Films4Families Youth Jury Award||Stuart McDonald||Nominated|
|Traverse City Film Festival||Stuart Hollander Prize for Best Kids Film||Won|
The film was released on DVD, Blu-ray and video on demand platforms in Australia on 16 December 2015.