Here’s a rather curious computer-animated import from South Korea. Originally titled The Outback, the 2012 feature film has been rechristened Koala Kid and is now available on DVD in the U.S. exclusively at Walmart and Sam’s Club. Directed by Kyung Ho Lee (co-director of 2007’s Garfield Gets Real), it’s the story of an all-white koala bear named Johnny who is taken in by a traveling circus after being considered an outcast his whole life.
Set in the Australian outback, Johnny (voiced by Rob Schneider) is dubbed the “Koala Kid” to increase his marquee value in the circus. Much to his dismay, he finds himself consigned to the freak show rather than the main big top, on account of his white fur. Naturally, he makes it his goal to step up to the big show since he’s tired of being ostracized. Various adventures await Johnny, Tasmanian devil Hamish (Bret McKenzie), a one-legged wombat named Quint (Norm MacDonald), and his other companions as they travel from location to location.
A love interest for Johnny turns up in the form of another koala, a boomerang expert named Miranda (Yvonne Strahovski). He spends a good amount of time attempting to impress her. As for villains, there’s an obese crocodile named Bog (Alan Cumming). The presence of numerous well-known stars voicing these characters helps provide a little interest for older viewers. This isn’t a bad minor league effort overall, with passable animation (the landscapes look particularly good). The character animation is a little stiff and video game-ish at times, but a few action scenes (such as Johnny scrambling to cross a rickety bridge as it falls apart under his feet) are creatively staged.
The DVD features a pair of the least-useful supplemental features I’ve yet seen. The “Adventure Map” offers a barely interactive “game” that shows Johnny’s path with numerous stops along the way. At each stop, you can click to watch a brief scene from the movie and guess which type of animal is being shown. The “Down Under Sing-Along” is a very brief clip of the big musical number, only with subtitled lyrics at the bottom of the screen. Even the least-discerning kid viewers will wonder why these “special” features were even included.