Wednesday, April 18, 2012


You, too, can have this stupified expression...just watch this
"How many times in the past have they stood between me and my dreams of glory? How many times have they foiled my plans with their bungling interference?"

1) The opening few minutes, that begins with a proscenium arc and includes the lengthy animated 'since last you saw them' sequence, makes you think this film will actually work. The voice of the old show is intact, as is the humor. And then, once the film is fully eased into the live action all goes horribly wrong.

2) And the fundamental problem with the film is how it establishes that the most significant characters of the cartoon have entered into the real world....but the difference between the 'real world' and the cartoon world is negligible. Hell, the script by Kenneth Lonergan isn't really clear about the actual rules of this version of reality--the opening makes a clear demarcation between the real world and the cartoon one, yet when we get to Wossamatta U, there's this whole anti-cartoon protest rally and a gag about the college getting real world status after the cancellation, and....

If the rules of the world you're building doesn't make sense, your movie won't make sense.

You should be tying up the writers and producers of this
film,'s not those actors' fault....
3) I know that when this film came out there was a lot of brickbats thrown at Robert deNiro for playing Fearless Leader. But he does the best he can with this underwritten role, as does Rene Russo, who is scary in how much she seems to have channeled Natasha. No, the worst villain performance is Jason Alexander's, whose Boris is so broad they could build a whole airplane hanger with it. It's downright painful to watch his exaggerated mugging, and that weird-ass mustache distracts you every time we see him in close-up.

4) Also shockingly awful is Piper Perabo's Karen Patience. Like Alexander, Perabo overplays her character to a degree that makes her every pronouncement winge-worthy....and the film does her no favor by giving her a wardrobe and a make-up job that's unflattering in the extreme. If she's supposed to be the audience's POV character, the film fails in that respect.

5) Usually I would hate all the 'fish out of water' gags....except that said gags in this film certainly plug into the whole Bullwinkle 'malapropisms/misunderstandings' aspect of that character's personality. It makes sense here, as does the very strict moral sense of Rocky.

What did jar was the one gag about Bullwinkle's first exposure to hip hop, only because his line about getting jiggy with it was there only to be dropped into the trailers.

6) I also appreciate that the film made the conscious choice to animate Rocky and Bullwinkle as cell-shaded objects, instead of trying to make 'realistic' CGI versions of the characters. Not only does it emphasize the nature of Jay Ward's animation style and the fact that they literally don't belong here, it gives the film a look that makes it stand out from other animated properties in live action features.

7) How many times do I have to say this? Every time you draw attention to a flaw in your script through dialogue, you're not proving you're clever--you're just reminding us that your script is flawed.
"You mean this isn't going to return us into pop culture
prominence?  Like Heck you say!"

8) How many times do I have to say this, part two? Just including a celebrity in a cameo isn't a joke. And just including a celebrity cameo so you can make a joke about how the character looks exactly like the celebrity who's playing him is even less of a joke.

9) I have to wonder if Kenan Thompson felt a chill run across his back when he was on set for the woefully unfunny extended cameo he did with his then-partner Kel Mitchell as the fatefully named Martin and Lewis, given he was about to play Fat Albert in a film scenario erieely like this one.

10) I do get the sense that this film tried to capture the same sense of satire the show had with the whole 'RBTV' plot...except that said satire doesn't quite work. Just putting on the same shows we usually watch circa 2000 only with black suited spies is not satire, it's lazy. That being said, I admit I found the clips from 'Three Wacky Spies On A Horse Who Is Also A Spy' weirdly charming in its bizarreness.

Overall...a high holy mess that--like so many of the 'family movies' these days--is so busy trying to prove how hip it is and appeal to everyone, it ends up appealing to no one. There is an effort here, but one so confused that what little that's good about this movie is quickly submerged.

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