The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle

"Weak"

The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle Review


Every kid's favorite cartoon Moose and Squirrel magically transported into the real world? Why if that's not a sure-fire gimmick for a movie studio to make a quick buck, I don't know what is.

Welcome to "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle," another TV-to-big screen transition that must have seemed like a good idea at the time.

In fact, it seems like a good idea for the first half hour of the movie, too. The "Roger Rabbit"-style cross-over story begins in good ol' Frostbite Falls, the sleepy 'toon town where Rocky the squeaky flying squirrel and Bullwinkle the dumb-yuk-yuk moose have been trapped in re-runs since their show was cancelled in the 1960s, living on "diminishing residual checks" -- so says the show's booming and lampooning narrator, who similarly has been reduced "to narrating his own life."

A tide of such trademarked self-mockery gives this "Bullwinkle" flick a good running start of laughter. But soon the our heroes are yanked into the real world, and the movie tries to coast to the closing credits on a thin trickle of similar japes.

Boris and Natasha, those incompetent spies from Pottsylvania, have crossed over ahead of them, having suckered a desperate Hollywood studio junior exec (Janeane Garofalo) into signing a magic contract. "And the expensive animated characters," crows the narrator, "were transformed into even more expensive live-action stars!" Namely Jason Alexander, Rene Russo and -- get this -- Robert De Niro as Fearless Leader (talk about your perfect casting!), who has a plan to take over the United States by turning Americans into TV-watching zombies. I mean, you know, more so than they already are.

Occasionally hilarious, but more frequently flavorless, "Rocky and Bullwinkle" consists largely of pop-culture spoofs (notably "COPS" and "Roger Rabbit," to which it winkingly acknowledges a large debt) set against a ridiculous road trip story that finds R&B driving cross-country to stop Fearless Leader from being elected president by zombified voters.

With a deadpan bent, director Des McAnuff ("Cousin Bette") happily embraces the absurdity of it all, as do the characters, who often break the fourth wall to comment sarcastically on the paper-thin plot.

De Niro goofs on "Taxi Driver," Alexander and Russo ham it up with gusto, and several celebrity fans have small parts in the picture (Garofalo, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters, John Goodman). Everyone is obviously having tons of fun.

But decreasing snippets of that their frivolity make it off the screen as the movie wears on, and it has one quite significant flaw: Way too little Bullwinkle, way too much Piper Perabo.

Piper who, you ask? Exactly my point.

Perabo is a forgettably pretty Generation Y cutie from central casting, given the movie's real lead role as Karen Sympathy, an FBI agent who has lost touch with her inner child.

She's the one who coaxes our lovable-as-ever Rocky and Bullwinkle into crossing over -- they've defeated Fearless Leader before, see? -- by getting a movie green-lit at a Hollywood studio (industry gags abound). But while the movie takes pride in poking fun at most of its own foibles, it turns a blind eye to the fact that this character is 1) a cheap metaphor, 2) a story-crippling script crutch that serves only to slow down the laughs, and 3) has about as much charisma than a supporting player on "Saved by the Bell."

Making a good movie as deliberately dumb as "Rocky and Bullwinkle" -- not to mention one with so many built-in expectations -- is a difficult balancing act, to be sure. Want proof? Just look at the last two movies adapted from Jay Ward cartoons: "George of the Jungle" -- milk-out-your-nose funny. "Dudley Do-Right" -- walk-out-of-the-theater awful.

This deliberately dumb movie falls somewhere in between. When it's on a full-court press of snickers and grins, it's as comical as the screwy old cartoon ever was. But when it pauses for plot, it goes to pieces because McAnuff and screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan (he worked on De Niro's "Analyze This") seem unable to get the story and the satire to co-exist.



Facts and Figures

Budget: $76M

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Capella International, KC Medien AG, Tribeca Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Natasha, as Boris, as Karen Sympathy, as Cappy von Trapment, as Fearless Leader, as Whoppa chopper pilot / Ohio cop with bullhorn / Old Jeb, as Rocky / Cartoon Natasha Fatale / Narrator's Mother, as Bullwinkle / Narrator / Cartoon Boris Badenov / Cartoon Fearless Leader, as Minnie Mogul, as P.G. Biggershot, as Oklahoma Cop, as Lewis, as Martin, as Measures

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.