Friday, February 24, 2006


Directors: Dave Borthwick, Jean Duval, and Frank Passingham
Written By: Paul Bassett
The Weinstein Company

After Hoodwinked, The Weinstein Company looked to be a potential force in the ever-crowding arena of digital animation. Taking a Rashomon storyline, their first animated entry seemed to promise a different kind of family movie, one that took a chance. It wasn't near perfect, but it was enjoyable enough and it was their first try. Essentially, TWC is still in their infancy, but their second animated film in two months doesn't have nearly as much going for it.

Doogal (Daniel Tay) is a candy-loving dog who one day plots to raid a man's candy cart. It goes out of control and ends up crashing into a merry-go-round, one that Doogal's owner Florence (Kylie Minogue) is on. The result makes the merry-go-round spin ultra fast, and it does two things--unleashes the springy baddie Zeebad (Jon Stewart) and freezes the merry-go-round with Florence and a couple of other friends in it. Zeebad wants to find three diamonds that will freeze the Earth, and Doogal has to find the diamonds to unfreeze Florence and to prevent Zeebad from getting them. So, with the help of Ermintrude (Whoopi Goldberg), a cow, Brian (William H. Macy), a snail, Dylan (Jimmy Fallon), a bunny, and the Gandalf-esque, fiery good twin brother of Zeebad, Zebedee (Ian McKellan), the animals and a train (Chevy Chase) do indeed go on a Lord of the Rings type quest, complete with the requisite danger that it implies.

It's just not a fresh movie. There are jokes that are adult-oriented, and I'm not talking the kind that pushes the censor envelope in any way, but there is a consciousness to get more than just the kiddies involved--it's only mildly amusing. The animation is of that Hoodwinked variety, kind of creepy, and also, unfortunately, Doogal is a fairly unlikeable hero. Yes, he needs to learn lessons about not being selfish, but he's selfish all the time, until the story dictates that he becomes the hero. All the people who do voices here are very good, but Judi Dench as the narrator comes off extremely well. Her narration gets you excited about the movie, even when you've sort of been bored to tears, but then it's back to the grind.


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