DVD Release Date:  May 16, 2006
Rating:  G
Genre:  Animated Action/Adventure (Children's)
Run Time: 85 min.
Directors:  Jean Duval, Frank Passingham, Dave Borthwick
Actors:  Daniale Tay, Ian McKellen, Jon Stewart, Chevy Chase, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Smith, Judi Dench, William H. Macy, Jimmy Fallon
       
It’s unfortunate that filmmakers keep cranking out kid movies with little-to-no story, superficial characters, trite dialogue and lousy animation – just because they’re kids and, I guess, nobody seems to care.  I’m sure that over in Europe, a lot of 40-somethings have really been looking forward to the film version of their favorite childhood TV show, too.  So, for you disappointed Frenchies and Brits, I have two words from this side of the pond:  “Scooby Doo.” 

Doogal (voiced by Daniel Tay) is a ditzy little dog who can’t stay away from candy or his owner, Florence (Kylie Minogue).  When Doogal tries to steal some candy, he causes Florence and her friends to get stuck on a merry-go-round, which is then frozen by an evil sorcerer.  The sorcerer’s name is Zeebad (Jon Stewart) and he has a tiny little head, a Magnum P.I. mustache, and a spring for a body.  (Yes, a spring, as in “boing-boing.”  Go figure.)  Zeebad’s body spring looks exactly like the body spring of his adversary, Zebedee (Ian McKellen) – apparently to save them from the hassle of inventing another character.  He also has a Magnum P.I. mustache, but he’s red, and his special power is fire, whereas Zeebad is blue and uses cold as his special power.   Oh, and when they “fight,” they bounce around.  But wait – it gets even better.

Now Zeebad, who’s into freezing, is going after world domination, like most villains, and needs these three diamonds.  Diamonds of color, no less – as in blue, pink and yellow.  (Which, in my book, would actually make them a sapphire, a garnet and a tiger’s eye, respectively.  But who cares, right?)  Now what these “diamonds” have to do with world domination, much less a merry-go-round, is beyond me.  But hey, this is a movie for little kids.  So who cares.

After Zeebad freezes the merry-go-round, locking Heather and her friends inside, Doogal goes on a quest for the diamonds, with Zeebad in hot pursuit.  He’s accompanied by a guitar-playing-stoner-dude (without the pot)-rabbit named Dylan (Jimmy Fallon), an operatic cow named Ermintrude (Whoopi Goldberg) and Brian, the shy snail who adores Ermintrude (William H. Macy).  Oh, and let’s not forget the moose-with-gas (played by – oh, why am I not surprised – Kevin Smith) and, gee, a train with gas (Chevy Chase), too.  Anybody else out there with gas?  Because the producers are auditioning for their next film.  The more flatulent, the better.  

Back to the “plot.”  The idea is that – follow closely now – if Doogal can get the diamonds, he can save Heather and her friends from freezing to death in the iced-up merry-go-round.  Of course, why someone didn’t just tap on the ice and break it, I have no idea.  It wasn’t even thick.  But, like I said, who cares.  Kids have no brains, right?

Well, if this plot sounds familiar, then bingo!  Or, should I say, “boing!”  you win world domination.  Because, of course, it is a ripped off version of “Lord of the Rings.”  Only without the good characters, dialogue, acting, direction, cinematography and anything else that can and should create a decent film.  Add to that, bad animation and really bad jokes, and you’ve got “Doogal.”  Just get a load of some of these pitiful puns:

  • “I have a bone to pick with you” (speaking to skeletons).
  • “Why do I always get the shaft?  Lucky I have tunnel vision” (spoken by the train, while traveling through a tunnel).
  • “After winter it’s time for spring!” (by one of the two spring characters)
  • “You, a guard!  You couldn’t guard underarm odor!”
  • “I was supposed to be your knight in furry armor” (spoken by Dougal, the dog).

Have you had enough yet?  Ah, but wait.  I still have the worst joke of the film.  Are you ready?  Here it comes – and I promise I am not making this up:  “One spring to rule them all.”  Aha!  Now we know why the villain was a spring.  So they could use this joke!

For the sake of more puns, we’re also subjected to a litany of pop culture references that include Blue Man Group, Phil Collins, Harry Potter, C.S.I. and the overused phrases of “Whassup?” and “Peace Out!”  I guess the screenwriters were trying to emulate the postmodern witticisms of “Shrek,” but suffice to say that they did not succeed.  The film doesn’t even have a decent message.  Well, there is something about the importance of friends, but woop-dee-do.  Even my three-year-old understands that.  And that cliché is still buried among the fart jokes, bad dialogue and brain-numbing plot.

If there is a decent line in the film, it comes from Jon Stewart, when he threatens the snail with garlic butter, or perhaps his comment, “No, Sam.  The evil laugh comes from the back of the throat, like this.”  But honestly, that’s it.  Even the acting, a stellar lineup of talent if ever there was one (except Tay, who offers a poor Doogal), can’t overcome this cinematic catastrophe, which is wrapped in animation that looks like claymation mixed with early '70s cartoon “technology.”  I mean, the dog doesn’t even walk, okay?  He hops.)

An Americanized version of “The Magic Roundabout," a popular television show during the '60s on European television stations, “Doogal” – like most remakes – should have just stayed in the old memory box.   For good animation with a strong message, instead check out VeggieTale’s “Lord of the Beans,”  a well-made, witty spoof of “Lord of the Rings.”

AUDIENCE:   8 and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:    None.
  • Language/Profanity:   None.  However, multiple characters rudely pass gas throughout film, without apology or rebuke.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  None.
  • Violence:   Mild peril and discussion about death, as in sorcerer’s instructions to guard: “Pain, misery and torment will be on your daily to-do list, and your only break is death.”