The new Weinstein Company has certainly ushered in a new golden age of animation. First came the negligible misfire “Hoodwinked,” and now here’s “Doogal,” a dazzlingly incomprehensible American re-dub of a British film — because, you know, American kids wouldn’t have understood what those British cartoon characters were saying.
Doogal (voice of Daniel Tay) is a too-hairy, rather ugly dog who lives in a picturesque village with a carousel in the middle of town. Apparently this carousel was being used as a prison of some sort, as Doogal one day accidentally frees a villain named Zeebad (Jon Stewart) from it. Zeebad has a spring for a lower half and has the goal of freezing the entire world into ice, heaven knows why. He bounces off to gather three magical diamonds that, when brought together, will enable him to bring about his nefarious plan.
Then another spring-man named Zebedee (Ian McKellen) hops in to tell Doogal and his friends — which include a cow (Whoopie Goldberg), a snail (William H. Macy) and a rabbit (Jimmy Fallon) — that they have to go find the diamonds before Zeebad does. Zebedee might have explained why he couldn’t do it himself, but I think the movie forgot to include that part. Anyway, he has a map of the gems’ locations, and he conjures up a magic talking train (Chevy Chase) to transport them, and I’m thinking I would not want to be on a long trip with Chevy Chase, Whoopi Goldberg and Jimmy Fallon.
I gather a lot of the dialogue was rewritten for the American version. Obviously the train in the British version didn’t introduce himself by saying, “I’m a train and you’re not” — and yes, that’s the quality you can expect from “Doogal’s” pop-culture references. Seldom have I heard such lame jokes and pseudo-savvy dialogue. It’s an obvious attempt to amuse the adults in the audience with jokes that will go over the kids’ heads, but that only works if the jokes are actually funny, you know? Jimmy Fallon’s rabbit character saying of Zeebad, “That guy is totally villainous! What’s up with that?! Did he not get enough structure as a child?” is embarrassing.
The story itself seems randomly assembled, with events happening not as the result of cause and effect but because someone drew them out of a hat or something. The cow, an opera singer, begins a concert with something from “Carmen,” only to interrupt herself and break into The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” The adventurers use magic to make a boat, only to realize they can’t use a boat on molten lava (duh), so they use their tents to make a hot-air balloon to carry themselves and the boat (and the train) to safety. So why’d they make the boat in the first place? Why not wait until they were somewhere near water? WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU, YOU STUPID MOVIE?!
Part of me wants to consider whether the film’s target audience of very young children would find it entertaining. But most of me says that regardless of how much THEY might like it, there’s no way YOU, their parents, could stand it. It’s a pale wreck of a cartoon, in any language.
D (1 hr., 21 min.; )