Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure [2012]

MPAA (G)  CNS/USCCB (A-I)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (directed by Matthew Diamond, screenplay by Scott Stabile and created by Kenn Viselmann) is, fairness must say, honestly "an experiment."  Viselmann is best known as the "marketing guru" who brought the Teletubbies [1997-2001] to the United States.  So if you LIKED (or (DIDN'T particularly like or WERE WARY of) the Teletubbies ...

The current project involves "full bodied puppets." Adult actors in large, bulky, primary-colored costumes animate them kinda like the Teletubbies.  But the current Oogieloves characters talk, sing, dance.  So this film is intended for a "slightly older audience" :-) -- 1-3 year olds rather than 6 month olds ;-).  To some extent the puppet characters resemble those in Where the Wild Things Are [2009] only far more brightly colored and (IMHO generally friendlier ;-).

The film is intended to be an "interactive movie."  That is, when the three principal characters -- Goobie (animated/voiced by Misty Miller), Toofie (animated/voiced by Malerie Grady) and Zoozie (animated/voiced by Stephanie Renz) animated therefore by three young women actors even though two of the characters appeared to be male ... -- get up to sing or dance, a cue is given (butterflies shown flying across the bottom of the screen) telling kids/viewers that they should get up and sing / dance as well.  When the song or otherwise stand up activity ends, another cue (turtles walking along the bottom of the screen) indicates to kids/viewers that it's okay to sit down again.

The plot for this 90 minute often very cute contraption is simple as well.  Goobie, Toofie and Zoozie want to have a birthday party for their talking pillow Schluufy (voiced by Taras Los) who's mostly asleep during the story.  And it's actually good that Schluufy is largely asleep throughout, because almost immediately after the three friends receive five golden/helium filled balloons for the birthday party from their talking red felt-covered vacuum cleaner named J. Edgar (voiced by Nick Drago) -- yes apparently he's a HOOVER vacuum cleaner -- the balloons fly away.

What now?  The rest of the movie is about Goobie, Toofie and Zoozie along with their somewhat crotchety gold-fish named Roofy (voiced by Randy Carfagno) going around retrieving said balloons.

Along the way then, in their "big adventure" they meet all sorts of interesting characters --Jubilee and Dotty Rounder (played by Kylie O'Brien and Cloris Leachman) who live in a giant tea-cup in a tree.  (Despite her last name Jubilee seems to prefer squares to circles while her polka dotted mother Dotty is just happy as pie with the dots she was given in life ... ;-); raspy-voiced Marvin (played by Chazz Palmintieri), the owner of an Ice Cream Shop / Diner who makes a really mean milkshake (at times literally ;-); a singing "diva" named Rosalie Rosebud (played by Toni Braxton) who's actually slightly allergic to the roses that she keeps getting (her "big hit" that she sings is a "Motown" style song about "scratching, coughing and sneezing ..." ;-) ; a cowboy-boot/hat donning trucker named Bobby Wobbly (played by Cary Elwes) who's "hauling a semi full of bubbles cross-country" ;-); and finally salsa/flamenco dancers Lola and Lero Sombrero (played by Jaime Pressley and Christopher Lloyd respectively) who travel on a giant hat and live by a windmill.

It's all cute -- at times kinda pre-fab, Monkees-like, are we being used? just wait for the avalanche of marketing tie-ins' if this thing succeeds, cute -- but honestly parents and really little kids could probably do a lot worse.  I found the film _better_ than both the Teletubbies [1997-2001] (which I never really understood/liked) and Where the Wild Things Are [2009] (where IMHO the children's books were _so much better_ than the film). 

Readers of my blog will know that I generally give innovative projects a break.  I'm doing so here.  Honestly parents with really small kids this is not a bad film and I would imagine that it would probably be useful (and safe) as a DVD filler (what the heck am I going to do with the kids while I prepare dinner ...) at home.  Again, one could do worse.

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  1. Dennis, I took my five year old to see the "Oogieloves" movie (as in, desperate parent needs something to distract child). There were 11 people in the theater, counting us. My son, of course, adored it. But, for adults, the film is only watchable from the perspective of how bad a film can actually be. I found it fascinating the way people find train wrecks interesting. Take the more bizarre aspects of the Wiggles and multiply them by 50, and you get the idea. Things like garishly colored puppet people, lead characters such as a vaccum cleaner and a throw pillow, a cowboy with bubbles in his pants, a giant tulip, a flying sombrero and people like Toni Braxton and Christopher Lloyd totally humiliating themselves. It cost $20 mil to make, $40 mil to market, and has taken in $1.0 mil so far! I'm part of a historical event -- one of the few people to see in the theater one of the worst big budget bombs ever!

    Perhaps I've shaved a couple of hours off of my time in Purgatory by sitting through this thing. Otherwise, it's useless. Although, since my wife wasn't there with us that day, I'm waiting for the DVD so that she can have the full experience with us. Just pray that she doesn't file for divorce afterwards for spousal abuse..

    God bless,

  2. Hi Bob, I'm not sure I'd want to defend too much such an obviously commercial venture as this film. Still, IMHO this film is positively "Citizen Kane-esque" when compared to the Teletubbies or even/especially Peewee Herman of years past :-)