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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Cath Clarke

A Mystery on the Cattle Hill Express review – kids’ animation with a dose of Agatha Christie

Agatha Christensen (centre) in A Mystery on the Cattle Hill Express.
Shonky … Agatha Christensen (centre) in A Mystery on the Cattle Hill Express. Photograph: PR

If you’re in possession of a child under seven who is an early reader, advanced enough in literacy that they are already familiar with the works of Agatha Christie, then they may possibly get a kick out of this Norwegian family animation. Everyone else’s kids are likely to get fidgety 10 minutes in.

This is actually the third film in the Cattle Hill franchise, following Klara the plucky teenage cow as she solves a mystery with detective bunny Agatha Christensen. The story begins on Klara’s farm where her dad, Biff, is at his wits’ end. Nothing is growing in the soil, their crops are failing. Then along comes inventor and corporate fat pig Albert Einswine (a character doing nothing to dispel the negative stereotype of pigs as farmyard greedy guts). Einswine swears that his new genetically modified super seed will solve all their problems. So Klara and her dad take a trip aboard his hi-tech private train (fuelled on, you guessed it, cow farts and burps). When the miracle seed goes missing, Einswine calls in twinset-wearing detective Agatha Christensen.

The figures are so shonkily animated, it’s not always instantly obvious which animals the characters are meant to be, and the overall look has that over-bright cheapness that makes so much children’s television eye-aching to watch. Still there is a surprise ending in homage to Christie that actually isn’t half bad, though by this point Cattle Hill may already have lost the audience. My six-year-old lasted less than 20 minutes.

• A Mystery on the Cattle Hill Express is released on 20 October in UK cinemas.

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