Some of the best ideas take root in coffee shops.
JK Rowling famously started writing the bestselling Harry Potter books with her baby daughter at her side while enjoying a hot brew. Five years ago, inspiration also struck Michael Acton Smith in a South London coffee shop.
While sketching creatures on a scrap of paper, the designer stumbled upon the idea of a game, which allowed players to adopt, play with and nurture their own monster, expanding the idea of virtual pet ownership from the Tamagotchi craze that swept the globe in the late 1990s.
The success of the Moshis has been phenomenal, sowing the seeds of a dizzying array of spin-offs including trading cards, magazines and a music album. Considering more than 80 million children aged six-14 have adopted Moshi Monsters, it’s perhaps inevitable these quirky critters would also stampede the big screen in a song-filled romp.
Financed, written, directed and animated in the UK, Moshi Monsters: The Movie brings to life the six virtual monsters from the game - Diavlo, Katsuma, Furi, Luvli, Poppet and Zommer - as they venture far from the safety of Monstro City.
Moshling collector Buster Bumblechops (voiced by Keith Wickham) leads an expedition to uncover the Great Moshling Egg.
The moustachioed adventurer brings this precious artefact back to Monstro City and proudly displays it at his mansion.
Arch-villain Dr Strangeglove (Ashley Slater) and his incompetent Glump sidekick Fishlips (Boris Hiestand) steal the egg and promise to return it only if Katsuma (Emma Tate), Poppet (Phillipa Alexander) and the other Moshi Monsters retrieve three rare objects.
With a documentary film crew and Mr Snoodle in tow, Katsuma, Poppet and the gang begin their epic quest, unaware of the dangers that await them.
En route, they encounter sugary psychopath Sweet Tooth (Steve Cleverley) and shake their booties with Jollywood superstar Bobbi SingSong (Rajesh David).
Alas, Katsuma’s over-inflated ego jeopardises his friendships.
“The others, they’re just the fries to my burger, the sprinkles to my cupcake,” Katsuma arrogantly tells the director of the documentary.
Pride, inevitabley, comes before a fall, and Katsuma must fight hard to rebuild bridges with Poppet, Diavlo (Wickham again), Furi (Tom Clarke Hill), Luvli (Tate again) and Zommer (Slater again).
Enforcing the Moshi Monsters brand with its cheerful, upbeat tone and a well-worn mantra (“if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything”) Wip Vernooij and Morgan Francis’s film should entertain youngsters, who have already been bitten by the virtual pet bug.
Slater camps it up as the boo-hiss villain of the piece, while the animators cram as much retina-searing colour into each frame. Pacing is brisk and action set-pieces include a stomach-churching mine cart roller-coaster ride.
Given that I’m more than 30 years older than the film’s target demographic, I cheerfully spent 81 minutes with Katsuma and co, and smiled through most of it.
Children/Animation/Adventure. Featuring the voices of Keith Wickham, Emma Tate, Tom Clarke Hill, Boris Hiestand, Phillipa Alexander, Ashley Slater, Steve Cleverley, Rajesh David. Directors: Wip Vernooij, Morgan Francis.
Released: December 20 (UK & Ireland)