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Footrot Flats

Footrot Flats has pace, energy and vigour. It has plenty of humour and reproduces accurately a segment of the New Zealand way of life.

Footrot Flats: the Dog’s (Tail) Tale, New Zealand, 1986

Magpie Productions
Director: Murray Ball
Producers: John Barnett, Pat Cox
Screenplay: Murray Ball, Tom Scott
Animation Director: Robert Smit
Production Supervisor: Mike Midlam
Voice Production: Chris Hampson
Sound Design: John Mckay
Backgrounds: Richard Zaloudek
Music: Dave Dobbyn
Editors: Michael Horton, Denis Jones

Voices: John Clarke (Wal), Peter Rowley (Dog), Rawiri Paratene (Rangi), Fiona Samuel (Cheeky Hobson), Billy T James (Pawdi)

35mm, PG–Contains coarse language, 72 minutes

The Dog's Tale: his first encounter with the sexy bitch Jess, his loyal devotion to Wal Footrot, whom he saves from a fate worse than death, his adventures with Horse, the cat with the barracuda jaw and fishhook claws, his brilliant cowardice and mighty nose pitted against the dastardly schemes of the villainous Murphys, their hell hounds and the Croco Pigs. Will Wal become an All Black? Will Coach recover his stolen stag? Will the Dog win your hearts and funny bones?

“This film has pace, energy and vigour. It has plenty of humour and reproduces accurately a segment of the New Zealand way of life.” — Neal David, 14 December 1986

“An amiable animated feature that has a dash of satire and some great songs (You Ought to be In Love is a charming ballad). The plot’s a sort of ‘Lifestyles fo the Isolated and Taciturn’ and familiar rustic stereotypes parade around Wal Footrot’s 2000-acre spread. Wal and Dog (the real star of the show) conspire to have Wal selected for the All Blacks. The rest of the time Dog does his best to come between Wal and his hairdresser girlfriend ‘Cheeky’ Hobson from Raupo (population 406). Written by Tom Scott and Murray Ball, the film broke box-office records and spawned two hit songs. Sit back, relax and enjoy.” Listener, Best of the Week, 26/11/1990

“The good news is that it’s a great little film. Producers Pat Cox and John Barnett should feel well satisfied that their team has brought in a winner. One could be cynical and say that the movie only needed to be halfway decent, given the massive recognition of Murray Ball’s cartoon strip, but it’s actually a lot better than that. A major factor in the success of the film is that it has stayed true to the spirit of Ball’s original. There is no softening in style for children. Doubtless, they’ll be as delighted as adults at the earthiness of the results. The humour in Footrot Flats is sometimes harsh, the wide cast of villains – from the Murphys to the Crocopigs – often really threatening. Vernon the Vermin, a new character, is guaranteed to give rat haters the shivers. So maybe this isn’t one for the citified squeamish. On the other hand, there’s a matter-of-fact good humour infused in the film; a nonchalant sense of reality that firmly grounds even the blackest excesses of Murray Ball’s wit. In terms of storyline the movie hardly falters. Tom Scott juggles several inter-related subplots, keeping the action fast and inventive, with plenty of scope to spotlight all the talented performers in the Footrot menagerie. Particularly welcome are the evident pains taken to spread the weight of the comedy – from verbal jokes, to more visual hijinks. There are, indeed, some inspired touches of slapstick – including a hilarious opening look at Wal Footrot’s early morning wake-up routine, and a wonderful step-by-step parody of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. Finally, plaudits are certainly due for the uncompromising quality of the animation, and the high standard of the production in general.” — Costa Botes

New Zealand’s first full-length animated feature film, Footrot Flats is also one of our best-loved and most successful films.

Six years in development, 15 months in the making, and comprising over 100,000 individually drawn and painted animation frames, Footrot Flats is a full-colour celebration of a cartoon phenomenon that appeared in over 120 newspapers in New Zealand and Australia, and has been translated for readers in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Japan.

Released two months in advance of the film Dave Dobbyn and Herbs reached number 1 on the NZ music charts with Slice of Heaven, the first release from the Footrot Flats soundtrack album. The song became synonymous with the film and remained on the charts for over six weeks, going Gold within five weeks and was named Song of the Year at the 1986 New Zealand Music Awards.

Screenings: Footrot Flats screened on 14 and 15 October 2011 as part of the Reel Festival; on 27 October 2010 during the school holidays; 25 February 2009 as part of a season celebrating NZ music in NZ films; 16 April 2008 as part of the Features for Kids season; and on 13 September 2006