"Hugo the Movie Star"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    Bronson Pinchot as HUGO
    Holly Gauthier-Frankel as RITA
    Jennifer Suguin as BARBIE TURNER
    Mark Camacho as CONRAD
    Arthur Grosser as DOCTOR LOONGKOFFER
    Rick Jones as ZAG
    Terrence Scammel as ZIG

    Not Rated
    Studio: Miramax Family

    Directed by: Flemming Quist Møller,
    Stefan Fjeldmark and Jørgen Lerdam
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In both live action, and now animation, Miramax has a lock on the mid-level import of movies. You can find better international cinema from other companies, but Miramax managed to eke out a niche market of finding films overseas that could work in the U.S.

Their animated market isn’t as massive as that of their parent company, but Miramax managed to bring in some family entertainment on the cheap because it’s been produced elsewhere.

“Hugo the Movie Star” is one of the latest Miramax animated imports to come to DVD. The original film is from the Danish market in the late 1990s. Much as they do with anime that comes overseas, this film has U.S. actors dub the dialogue in English. Unlike a traditional animated film, the dialogue must be designed to synch with the original lip movements.

Of course, this results in some not-quite-synched dialogue and odd-looking scenes. It’s a recognized danger of the industry. Like live-action dubbing, it’s never perfect.

However, none of this can excuse the bad voice acting of Bronson Pinchot, who provides the voice for the title character. Let’s just say the man peaked with Balki and be done with it. (After all, it’s too easy to rip on Bronson Pinchot, and I hate to take advantage of a man when he’s down.) He’s not a voice actor, and his attempts at vocal comedy makes my hair stand up on end.

The rest of the cast is fine, mainly because they aren’t duped into thinking they’re the star of the film. The real star is an animated fox-like primate called Hugo. He’s cute in any language, but can be brought down by the man who provides the voice.

“Hugo the Movie Star” is actually the sequel to the 1993 film “Jungledyrat,” which was imported in 1998 as well. This first film, with the English title “Go Hugo Go,” is also included on this disc as a bonus film. With the same running time as “Hugo the Movie Star,” “Go Hugo Go” first introduces us to Hugo, the rarest and cutest animal in the world. Hugo is captured by a desperate actress who wants him to be her co-star in her next film. However, Hugo doesn’t take too well to captivity and escapes.

“Go Hugo Go” shows us how Hugo finds new friends in the city who help him get back to his jungle paradise. The action takes up again with “Hugo the Movie Star” when the movie producer kidnaps him again and forces him to act in another film. Again, Hugo enlists the help of his friend Rita the Fox to escape.

These films are cute, but not tremendous. They’re mid-level animation and at least unique enough since they are original productions, albeit for the Danish audience. It reminds me of the weaker Disney films of the 70s and 80s - you know, the ones that no one remembers as a classic?

Young children will find this film fun and appealing. The characters are cute and colorful enough to keep their attention, without being so frenetic with a flicker-frequency that will throw your kid into an epileptic fit. In fact, my four-year-old son liked this film so much that he hid the DVD box for me so I didn’t take it with me to write the review. The only other film that has won that much praise from his is the original “Care Bears” movie.

Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track; English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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