** (out of 5)
February 24, 2006
Chevy Chase as TRAIN
Judi Dench as NARRATOR
Jimmy Fallon as DYLAN
Whoopi Goldberg as ERMINTRUDE
Bill Hader as SOLDIER SAM
William H. Macy as BRIAN
Ian McKellen as ZEBEDEE
Kylie Minogue as FLORENCE
Kevin Smith as MOOSE
Jon Stewart as ZEEBAD
Daniel Tay as DOOGAL
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Directed by: Butch Hartman
BY KEVIN CARR
Maybe it was a bad thing that I only caught the sophomore CGI film from the newly formed Weinstein Company. Sure, they can do transsexuals and nude London revues, but “Doogal” might be a sign that not all things CGI are going to be great.
I missed “Hoodwinked” in the theatres, so I can’t speak on its quality. However, if you believe box office receipts, there was definitely something there. It came out of nowhere to be a runaway hit. Unfortunately, it seems that “Doogal” might just run away.
“Doogal” is a re-dubbed version of a British-dubbed French film called “The Magic Roundabout.” I’m not exactly sure why the re-dubbing was necessary. Are American kids so dimwitted today that they can’t understand British accents? (Of course, we know this isn’t true, considering the wild popularity of the Harry Potter films.)
Sadly, I would imagine that American distributors favored a cast with big Hollywood names in it. Unfortunately, this meant scratching the voices of talented Brits like Tom Baker, Jim Broadbent and Joanna Lumley. Instead, we’re given American embarrassments like Jimmy Fallon. Some of the American cast is okay, like William H. Macy and Jon Stewart, although they aren’t fully comfortable in voice-overs. Otherwise funny people like Whoopi Goldberg just come across as annoying.
Overall, the dubbing is bad. Really bad. It reminds me of watching Asian imports like Pokemon and seeing the lip synch not quite right. One of the characters – a moose voiced by Kevin Smith – thinks all of his lines in voice over. Having not seen the original British film, I’m not sure if the moose even had a voice, but it nonetheless seemed off.
“Doogal” takes place in a magical world where everyone’s friends. A spring-loaded wizard named Zebedee (Ian McKellen) has hidden his evil brother Zeebad (Jon Stewart) in a magical carousel. Apparently, it’s a thousand years old and still ticking. However, the mischievous dog Doogal (Daniel Tay) accidentally sets Zeebad free, and he emerges with a plan to freeze the world. In order to save their land, Doogal and his strange assortment of friends must track down magic diamonds to reseal Zeebad’s merry-go-round prison.
It’s not that “Doogal” is necessarily a poor story. It’s just not worthy of a feature film in its current American form. Lines are poorly ad-libbed throughout, often resorting to clunky fart jokes. It’s your chance to see Jimmy Fallon at his worst with such pathetic quips as “I just pooped my pants.”
Younger kids should enjoy the film simply for the animation. Having singing cows and a guitar-playing rabbit doesn’t hurt the cause either. There are some scary scenes with Zeebad and Zebedee battling on a glacier. In fact, a young girl sitting in the back of the theatre had to leave when I saw it. If the kids can get past these scenes, they should have fun. However, I wouldn’t subject anyone older than eight to see the movie as they might get annoyed at the overly sweet message of relying on your friends to save the day.
Rather than being on the level of powerhouse CGI animation, “Doogal” is more along the lines of direct-to-DVD kids videos like “Hero Town City” and “The Care Bears.” I suspect the Weinsteins are trying to ride the “Hoodwinked” success wave, but it’s an ill-conceived bet. Ultimately, it reminds me more of something you might have seen on “H.R. Pufnstuf” in the 70s – without all the hallucinogenic drugs.
Actually, the highlight of the film is the CGI short “Gopher Broke” which precedes the film. It’s at the level of humor of Pixar with decent animation and a cute story.