The story of Noah’s ark is rather bizarre in its original incarnation, but what this cheap European animated film does with it is almost beyond comprehension. And not in a good way.
Not everyone is gonna get a berth on the ark — ya gotta be on the list, like it’s a hot nightclub or something — and Nestrians Dave (the voice of Dermot Magennis) and his son, Finny (the voice of Callum Maloney), don’t rate. What the heck are Nestrians? Imagine stuffed carnival prizes designed by a kindergartner come to annoying life. (Finny, who has no fins, is constantly threatening to hug anyone who will stand still. This is meant to be cute. But he makes even other characters onscreen with him want to kill him.) They are not denied rescue because they are not a mating pair but for a reason that will eventually be revealed as, at best, the result of petty cruelty (though this is the Old Testament, after all, which isn’t known for its kindness). Another nonmating pair, catlike Grymps Hazel (the voice of Tara Flynn) and Leah (the voice of Ava Connolly), are entitled to rescue; the fact that they are mother and daughter may account for the fact that there are no longer any Grymps in the world. Anyway, Finny and Leah get left behind when the ark launches, because shenanigans, and Dave and Hazel have to rescue them. (“Dave”? “Dave”? Maybe he comes from “Kansas”… which is also mentioned here. *facepalm*)
This spectacularly ill-conceived movie is a sort of low-rent ripoff of the Ice Age flicks, which no one should be copying in the first place. This is what happens when a movie cannot even rise to the level of crass Hollywood junk. Two by Two (aka All Creatures Big and Small) would be atrocious for the cringe-inducing banality of its sledgehammer-driven motifs about fitting in, friendship, and family alone. But it also features a strained running joke about the ark as a cruise ship, the invention of a whole new kind of fart, a bleak mass-extinction existentialism completely inappropriate in a children’s movie (“Maybe we’re not destined to survive this deluge…”), and some ill-fitting videogame metaphors. (Some people will likely also be displeased to discover that there isn’t a single mention of God or why the world is flooding.)
But the absolute worst, the thing that made me actually wince every time someone said it? Finny and Leah meet another animal who was also turned away from the ark, a large blobby Studio Ghibli-esque creature named — *wince* — Obesey. The name gets ineffably more horrid each time it is uttered, and it’s perfectly emblematic ofTwo by Two’s consummate tone-deafness.