Saturday, March 24, 2012

Doogal (2006)

There are three different kinds of films based on television series. 1) the type of movie that is so good that it encourages you to watch the show (South Park:  Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, The Simpsons Movie, etc.), 2) the type of movie that is so god-awful that you are almost timid in watching the show and 3) the type of movie that is not that good, but may encourage you to watch the show anyway. Even though I don’t know many films in that last category, I definitely know that one of those examples is 2006’s Doogal.

Doogal is based on the long-running 1960s French/British television show, The Magic Roundabout. The film revolves around a dog named Doogal and his friends in a world that includes The Magic Roundabout, a magical carousel. One day, Doogal accidentally releases the evil ZeeBad (yes, that’s his real name), an evil sorcerer who, like Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin, uses ice as his weapon of choice (just don’t expect ZeeBad to sing “I’m Mr. White Christmas, I’m Mister Snow”). The good sorcerer, Zebedee, sends Doogal and his friends, Dylan, the rabbit, Ermintrude, the cow, and Brian, the snail, on a quest to collect three diamonds that will save the world, unless in the hands of ZeeBad, who will use them to freeze the sun and thus, the world.

My interest in watching this movie became provoked when I saw that the film website, Rotten Tomatoes, named Doogal the 83rd worst reviewed movie of the 2000s. Plus, my friend, Ryan, at a point in his life named it as his least favorite movie (I don’t know if he still sticks by it today). So, I was all geared up to hate it, too. It’s not the worst thing ever, but it’s not anywhere near good.

The story is unengaging and, at some points, doesn’t even make sense. I can’t reveal those details, but sometimes, mostly near the end, things are there that feel forced, clichéd, or unnecessary. Plus, there is this weird subplot about the snail being in love with the cow. OK, maybe I can understand Gloria and Melman in Madagascar 2, but here, it is not only weird, but it is not cleverly developed or interesting.

Also, the voice acting is pretty dull. This film was actually an American version of the 2005 British film, coincidentally called The Magic Roundabout. So, in the American version, they just took out a lot, but not all, of the old voices and put big name actors in their place. The voice actors include Daniel Tay, who voices Doogal, Jimmy Fallon, Whoopi Goldberg, William H. Macy, Kevin Smith as a moose (who talks in this movie, but never talked in the 2005 film), and Chevy Chase as a train that accompanies the animals. 

Not only is the decision to change the voice actors utterly cynical as if the person who chose to alter the voices knew that they were trashing someone else’s creation, but they would still get money for it, but the voice actors are lethargic and bland, especially Daniel Tay, who is particularly wooden. They all sounded like they were just in it for the paycheck. Even in some of the dramatic moments, there is barely any dramatic interest in their voices. 

However, there is one exception of someone who is actually trying, besides Judi Dench and Ian McKellen, whose voices were spared (I didn’t mention Kylie Minogue, whose voice they kept, too, because she was bland as well), and that person was Jon Stewart, who is the villain. However, while he is a great comedian and he’s doing his best, it’s so sad and embarrassing, especially his delivery, which I found completely unnecessary and distracting. He speeds through his dialogue a lot, as if he's giving it all and yet doesn’t want to be there. Also, you will definitely know who voices who because, in the credits, they show the voice actors acting out their parts, which makes it all the more sad.

Making matters worse, the English dub idea truly is a bad idea. I mean, I understand for foreign language films when you don’t want to use subtitles, but I truly don’t find the British language very complex. Instead of re-telling it, they should’ve just released the original British cut of the film to a wider audience. Dubbing over British dialect is not only a bad idea, but it makes the poor lip movements stand out that much worse.

Even worse, this movie has a very mediocre script. The script, along with the poor voice work, makes the characters very bland, particularly Doogal. He is not only bland, but is also annoying. He is a screw-up, he barely contributes to anything, he can’t save himself, and yet he still boasts about being the leader. Even if you want to argue that he was being sarcastic, it’s still annoying. Yet he’s our main character, although the script treats him like an almost secondary character, but not quite because his name and his face take up half of the freaking poster. We’re supposed to identify with him and root for him, but we don’t and when he does finally contribute, it’s so simplistic. Since the story is so predictable, there is especially no rooting interest in any of the characters. 

Not to mention, the script is filled with unfunny jokes, bad puns, and loads of pop culture references. They reference anything from Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even CSI. Why? Because I guess we needed to Americanize it somehow, so how about references so blatant and unfunny that your five-year-old will groan. 

And the thing I cannot forgive this movie for is that I counted ten uses of the fart joke, eight of those involved the moose and the other two involved the train. Not only were the fart jokes OR the pop culture references for that matter not even in the original British cut, but the fart joke is probably the worst cliché in a movie. I hate that cliché. It is a cliché used out of desperation for a cheap laugh and I wish Hollywood would stop using it.

However, on the bright side, the animation is the best thing about the movie. It is vivid, whimsical, and surprisingly intricate. The backgrounds and things like trees, rocks, or lava look very realistic. The characters, surprisingly, even look good. They kind of remind me of the characters in the Christmas special, Yes, Virginia. Also, they were a few funny moments and a couple of scenes, like the characters struggling to not fall in the lava pit or a cool train chase scene, that not only kept my interest, but it also gave me a sense like I was there. 

Overall, though, it’s just a bland, average movie. I haven’t seen the TV series or the 2005 British film, but I would like to think that even for a fan of that show or a regular filmgoer, it would still be pretty disappointing. I guess this is just another case of style over substance or *insert bad pun here*.

RATING: A low two stars out of four!

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