This tiresome animated quest story starts out uninspired but quickly becomes irritating. Half an hour into its 80 minute running time, the child behind me asked hopefully, “Is that the end?” If only.
Has anyone behind this movie ever met a child? The story, about an evil wizard who is after three magic diamonds and the dog, rabbit, cow, and snail who try to stop him, has some mild appeal, but the characters are so uninteresting, most of the artwork so unimaginative, and the tone so uneven that it is unlikely to hold the interest of any age group.
This is a G-rated film directed at children that tries to make jokes about the Blue Man Group, Donald Trump, Simon and Garfunkel, Austin Powers, the MTV car fix-up show “Pimp My Ride,” Mission Impossible, human resources departments and the inadequacies of interns, Dawn of the Dead, music group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. These are not the kind of keep-the-grownups-happy jokes from Shrek and The Incredibles. They are just stale throw-in-any-pop-culture-reference non-jokes-in-a-hopeless-attempt-to-sound-hip-and-snarky.
The story itself is sugary pap of the “kids don’t know any better so it won’t matter if there’s nothing especially vivid or memorable” category. It keeps telling us that friendship and togetherness are important, but we never have any reason to believe that they believe it, much less that we should. Even the voice talents of Whoopi Goldberg, William H. Macy, and Jimmy Fallon can’t make up for a lackluster script and sluggish pacing. The animation has the low-budget CGI look: meticulous textures but movement as jerky and unpersuasive as Davey and Goliath.
Originally made in England, the movie was redubbed to make it more accessible to an American audience. Apparently, they didn’t think American children would find British accents appealing. The slightly governess-y narration by Dame Judi Dench is, however, the best part of the movie, suggesting that it might have been better to leave it as it was.
Parents should know that, despite the G rating, this movie may be too intense for younger children. Wizards fight with lightning bolts, scary skeletons guard a jewel, children are locked in a frozen merry-go-round, characters are in peril and there are some apparent deaths. There is some crude schoolyard language (indcluding the expression “pimp my ride”), a brief joke about substance abuse, and some potty humor.
Families who see this movie should talk about how friendship and loyalty made it possible for Doogal and the others to succeed.