Directed by Lenard Fritz, Krawinkel and Holger Tappe, starring the voices of Patrick Stewart, Emily Watson, Glenn Wrage, Alan Mariot, Bob Saker, Red Pepper, John Schwab, Stephen Lander and John Guerrasio.

The world of Gaya exists only in the land of television, inhabited by fantastical creatures (with very strange ears) who live under the light of the Gayan sun, powered by the dalamite crystal. Amongst Gaya's favourite inhabitants are Boo (Mariot), a genius inventor, and his heroic sidekick Zino (Wrage). But Gaya is also home to the Snurks, a group of troublemakers from the other side of the tracks. Galger (Guerrasio), Zek (Schwab) and Bramph (Pepper) lead the Snurks' challenge against the fame of local heroes Boo and Zino.

But when a bitter scientist (because every film has to have one) Professor N Icely (Lander) steals the dalamite crystal that is Gaya's source of energy, a hero is called for to restore normal life. Zino steps up to the job, dragging a frightened Boo along for the ride. Eager to upstage Boo and Zino, the Snurks too set off for Earth to try to retrieve the precious dalamite. And, not wanting to be outdone by the boys, the mayor's strong-willed daughter Atlanta (Watson) follows the crusaders from the realm of Gaya out into the real world.

Not forgetting that Gaya exists only in the cartoons, our heroes are all characters in a series that is the creation of cartoonist Albert Drollinger (Stewart), whose help they must now seek. Their chosen method of time travel is through television sets and they are surprised to discover a glorious state known as 'free will' when they arrive in the real world.

This is not a classic good-versus-evil moral lesson that unfolds. Although the rivals are forced to come together for the common good, their initial hatred seems misplaced. The Snurks never come off looking like the villains they are supposed to be. They inspire only pity in the face of Zino's absolute self-love and bad guy Zek instantly becomes the most likeable character of the lot.

The animation is nice, although not as striking as previous offerings from this stable ('Hercules' and 'A Bug's Life'). Kids will love the nasty Snurks and Daddy's girl Atlanta, and they'll adore the adventure of Gaya. But 'Boo, Zino and the Snurks' doesn't offer the same broad-ranging appeal as many of the current animated features on offer. The challenge to the Pixar crown is minimal.

Linda McGee