If Wes Anderson smoked some really good stuff all day every day while making “Grand Budapest Hotel” (well maybe he did anyway – it’s the rhetorical thought that counts), this movie might have been the result. To experience this graceful animated film is like doing a transcendental meditation session. The movie is built around the denizens of a much-loved comic strip, which originated in Finland and spread to London’s Evening News in 1954 and then to over 40 countries. The creator, Tove Jansson, was living in Finland surrounded by constant Russian bombing through World War II and she yearned for peace. The stars of the story are a family of gentle, yet adventurous creatures that seem like a cross between a hippopotamus and a potato.  Their most striking attribute is that they have no mouths. So, when they speak you feel that their words are thoughts coming from the heart.

The producer and co-director is Hanna Hemila. Hanna’s daughter, Los Angeles actress/filmmaker Beata Harju, is also one of the screenwriters and voices a couple of the characters.  Hemila and Harju noted in their Q&A session after the screening that it was Harju over 20 years ago who at age four begged her Mom to make a film about the Moomins.

Every part of the filmmaking was done in exquisite detail. The hand-drawn animation and the colors are simple and ethereal. The orchestral and jazz music by composers Milja Viljarnaa, Anna-Karin Korhonen, Panu Aaltio and Timo Lassy, adds to the warmth and soft flowing quality of the visuals and to the impact of abundant life lessons absorbed by the family of Moomins along their journey, life lessons we will all recognize. Bravo to a team with the courage to “break the mold” of obligatory violence and hyper split-second narrative and produce a beautiful inspiring film.

The off-the-wall things these characters say have meaning way beyond their face value. “I just want to live in peace, plant potatoes and dream”, says one Moomin.  Think about it.

 Not rated, 77 Minutes, Release Dec. 4

Kathryn Whitney Boole was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left.  It has been the backdrop for many awesome adventures with crazy creative people.  She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kwboole@gmail.com 

For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com/