Review: 'Doug's 1st Movie' drawn out for big screen
March 30, 1999
By Reviewer Paul Tatara
(CNN) -- Every time I find myself having to review a children's movie, I can't decide whether I'm supposed to be writing for the prepubescent audience or their parents.
Since I'm 6-foot-3 and can actually remember when "The Mod Squad" was a TV show, I'll opt for covering "Doug's 1st Movie" from the adult perspective. Even if you're over 11 years old but know how to mentally downshift when confronted with children's entertainment, you'll be a whole lot less than inspired by this one.
I'm also guessing that the same thing will happen if you reside in the targeted audience age bracket, although if you do, you probably have better ways to occupy your time than reading movie reviews. (I collect Hot Wheels, kids. I understand.)
Based on Nick cartoon
The movie is based on the popular Nickelodeon cartoon, "Doug," about the misadventures of a skinny 12 1/2 year-old named (you guessed it) Doug who continually finds himself caught up in somewhat clever, cartoon-type situations involving school bullies and his long-suffering girlfriend.
I've seen it a couple of times while channel surfing, and it quickly makes me yawny. The movie version is different, though, in that it makes me wide-screen yawny ... or maybe you should make that nine-bucks yawny.
The real problem here is the characters' utter blandness of conception. They're drawn like real people (no pants-wearing dogs or rodents in "Doug" world) but, as people go, they're not much more elaborately imagined than those smooth-featured guys on crosswalk signs.
The main difference between the various inhabitants of Doug's hometown is that some of them are blue, some of them are green, and some of them are purple. I imagine this is a nod towards racial tolerance, and you can't argue with that, but everybody in the movie looks like they're ready to puke.
The plot is an "E.T." rip-off in which Doug and his best friend, the irrepressible Skeeter, discover a very nice monster in the lake that's the genetically screwed result of a local industrialist's polluting ways. A crack squad of commandos pursues Doug and Skeeter as our heroes try to keep the monster (who the boys name Herman Melville when he tries to eat a copy of "Moby Dick") out of harm's way.
There's also a subplot about the oncoming school dance and Doug's eternal fixation on a cute girl named ... Patti Mayonnaise. I repeat: Doug's girlfriend is named Patti Mayonaisse. I don't know why, but I think that's hilarious. (Just don't confuse her with Susie Creamcheese. That's Frank Zappa's girlfriend.)
Intended for video market?
And that's it for fun. I've caught word that this one was originally intended for the straight-to-video market, but was turned into a "feature" when the "Rugrats" movie made a rather unexpected killing at the box office. Maybe "Doug's 1st Movie" would have worked a little better on the tube. The detail in the drawings is fairly rudimentary, and there's no "Simpson's"-type blink-and-you'll-miss-it insanity that's easier to catch on a big screen.
In fact, the monster looks like something out of "Scooby Doo," and you can't get much more rudimentary than "Scooby Doo."
But I don't want to seem like I'm bad-mouthing the monster. He was my favorite character, in that you'd be waiting a long, long time before you saw boring old Doug do something like drink out of the toilet then curl up under the bed and take a nap. One can only hope that they've got additional footage for the director's cut.
Yeah, right. "Doug's 1st Movie" is highly reminiscent of the works of Sam Peckinpah. I've seen darker snowfalls. Like I said- there's a cute monster. Rated G, although I don't know what it did to earn any rating at all. 77 minutes.
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