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By popular demand I've brought back my favourite guest critics to help me navigate another helping of sub par computer animation. Please welcome Olivia, five years old, Sierra, seven years old, Hailey eleven years old, and the elder of the group, Faline, thirteen years old.

Doogal

Feature


So, there's this dog named Doogal (voiced by Daniel Tay), who lives in city centred on a park inhabited by what appears to be living toys. He's friends with a giant snail (William H. Macy), a singing cow (Whoopi Goldberg, perfect casting if there ever was such a thing), a man sized, pot-head rabbit (Jimmy Fallon), and some kids. The problem is that Doogal is a bastard with an insatiable sweet tooth, who's not beyond sabotaging the candy-wagon in order to steal some fattening snacks. When his underhanded sweet swapping scheme goes wrong, Doogal inadvertently releases an evil blue, springy legged wizard (voiced by John Stewart) from his carousel prison. In the process Doogal's owner is frozen within the carousel herself, destined to freeze to death unless something is done.

The good, red, springy legged wizard (Ian McKellen!) sends Doogal and his friends on a mission to stop the evil wizard, but first they must find three lost diamonds. Why red wizard, who proves he can move quickly through space and time again and again, can't just get the stones himself is apparently irrelevant. Also unanswered is why Doogal's friends have to trudge along on the journey when it was all his fault. I'd send Doogal to a quick time out and get the diamonds myself, if I were a springy legged, red wizard, and I worry about the evil wizard's plan to freeze the entire earth, but that's me.

Doogal
I kind of hated this movie for two specific reasons. One, it has a habit of depending on the add-libbed 'genius' of its voice talents far too often, and two, Doogal is a son of a bitch, in all senses of the word. Basically he goes the entire film thinking only of himself and mucking everything up for his friends. I'm sure his  behaviour was suppose to be a lesson to bratty children, but unlike Sen of Miyazaki's Spirited Away, Doogal basically never redeems himself. Yeah, he saves the day, but it's really out of dumb luck. For most of the film he's entirely obnoxious and entirely unlovable.

Going back to my Hoodwinked review, some readers may remember that I have no tolerance for baseless, random pop-culture references in my animated films. This goes triple for Doogal, as every pot-shot is very obviously tacked-on (sometimes the offending character's mouth doesn't even move) and brutally out of place. This is a movie for young children, and placating to adults almost never works, especially when it's this irrelevant. And another thing, who makes references to M.C. Hammer in a film aimed at six year olds? Insulting.

I actually watched this film back-to-back with Hoodwinked since I already had my co-critics at my house and raring to go. Hoodwinked busted the girls up and was generally enjoyable the full runtime, and even I had to admit that it had its moments. Doogal sank like a lead weight for most of its mercifully sort duration, especially with the three older girls.

Doogal
The only real bright points, from what I could tell by their reactions, came during the springy wizard on springy wizard showdown (which had some nice post- Matrix visuals), and when the train-engine or flatulent moose spoke. The train is voiced pretty well by Chevy Chase (remember him kids? No I didn't think so), but most of his lines are reduced to cliché driven observations. The moose is voiced by none other than Kevin Smith. Smith plays the moose as if he's been given no lines, which does make the character funny in a kind of subversive way.

I suppose I have to give the designers and animators a little credit for creating something pretty and somewhat original on a tight budget. Unlike Hoodwinked, Doogal could be mistaken for a well financed production. The characters all look like preschool toys, complete with rounded edges and no protruding or chockable parts, except the wizards, whose spring legs could probably put an eye out. The animation has a few visually inspired moments, though not wholly original ones, and seems to have kept six year old Olivia properly engaged.

Video


Another straight digital dupe. Doogal looks crisp and clear, colourful and bright. Blue is blue, red is red, ice is shiny, fire is smouldering. There really isn't much negative to say. The occasional softness of the image can be attributed to the film's style. This is reference level stuff, but why would you want to use it for that when you have Toy Story 2 on your shelf? Also included on this double sided disc is a pan-and-scan version of the film.

Doogal

Audio


Nothing to die for here, but nothing to pout about either. The film's music tends to be mixed very quietly, as are the few instances of explosions. This is probably because it's a kid's flick and the wee ones can be startled pretty easily. At one point, when Ian McKellen's good springy wizard comes to the rescue, I noticed some of the girls whipped their heads around to the rear channel, which tells me the surround effects were pretty effective. Dialogue is clear, blah blah blah. The usual.

Apparently, Doogal is a redubbed version of a European animated feature based on an older kids film. This might explain the Thomas the Tank Engine meets The Teletubbies look, both shows were created on the other side of the proverbial pond. I guess the Brits really know what really little kids want to see. It might have been interesting to include the original audio track for purists, but I'm pretty sure nobody really cared.

Extras


Not much. A featurette that amounts to a long trailer, full of name actors pretending not to be embarrassed by the project, and a regular trailer. I guess kids don't really care about non-interactive features on their DVDs, and Genius Productions was smart enough to know that the film wouldn't appeal to enough adults that spending money on extras would prove useful. There's also an ad for the Weinstein’s other animation release, Hoodwinked.

Doogal

Overall


Well, I surely didn't enjoy myself watching this particular bratty little dog nearly destroy humanity. What did my co-critics think?
Olivia (5) - 8
Sierra (7) - 7
Hailey (11) - 5
Faline (13) - 5
Personally, I think they were being generous; none of them seemed to outwardly enjoy the flick that much to me.


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