Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Cannot Believe I Am Slightly Recommending This Infamous Bomb: "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" (2000)

"The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" was canceled in the mid-1960's, and ever since then the cartoon characters have been living in poverty. Through attachment to a movie deal, Fearless Leader (Robert DeNiro), Boris (Jason Alexander), and Natasha (Rene Russo) escape into our real world.

Fearless Leader begins a television network called RBTV (Really Bad Television) and begins hypnotizing the American public with his inane programming. His evil scheme is to brainwash the country into voting for him for president. The FBI sends untested Agent Karen Sympathy (Piper Perabo) to get Rocky and Bullwinkle (and the original show's Narrator) out of their cartoon existences to fight the villains. Fearless Leader is in New York readying to make his speech, so he sends Boris and Natasha to Hollywood to stop Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Karen. Most of the film is essentially a road trip as the cast makes a mad dash for the Big Apple.

When I was a kid, I never really got into Rocky and Bullwinkle. I didn't get into Sid and Marty Krofft's shows, either, but that is another review someday. I do remember liking the Narrator of the cartoon series, but I tired of the puns and lame jokes. I was a Looney Tunes kid, born and bred.

In the feature film, the writer and director give more than enough humor to please kids and adults. There are a ton of cameos here, almost as many as in the Muppet movies. The puns and lame jokes are still here, as is goofy physical humor. The casting of DeNiro, Alexander, and Russo is so inspired I wished the trio had had even more screen time. Keith Scott does the voices of both Bullwinkle and Narrator, and June Foray does the voice of Rocky. Both voice actors do a fantastic job. My one casting complaint is with Piper Perabo as Karen. I thought the role called for someone way older than the actress. What a gas it would have been to get Gillian Anderson as Karen!

The mix of live action and animation is not as smooth here as it was in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," a film this outing even mentions. While adults and children will find some funny stuff here, they will also have to sit through a "find your inner child" subplot and some very choppy editing in the middle third of the film. Mark Mothersbaugh leaves behind the quirkiness of Devo and his "Rugrats" scores, but delivers almost the exact same annoying music cues that came to ruin another live action/cartoon film-"Space Jam."

"The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" turned a lot of people off, and the film tanked at the box office. I found it average, but with enough to give a slight recommendation. I have a feeling true fans of the show hated this as much as those who knew nothing of the show. I kind of fall in the middle of the two groups, and my rating falls in the middle of the scale. (* * *) out of five stars.