In 10 Words or Less
It's all about the cuteness and nothing else
Likes: Good family shows
Dislikes: "Girl stuff"
Hates: Bratz dolls
It's unlikely anyone would ever question that there's a pretty clear delineation between girls and boys programming (though the best kids films and TV shows bridge the gap.) And as a guy, I've always fallen into the G.I. Joe/Transformers/He-Man camp (though I had a soft spot for Jem and the Holograms.) However, as the father of a young daughter, I've found myself watching more and more programming aimed at girls, and I've found it rather lacking in terms of storytelling and quality (with the exception of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, though I'm no Brony.) Unfortunately, Adventures in Lalaloopsy Land: The Search for Pillow, the first film based on the popular Lalaloopsy toy line, does nothing to change that point of view, as it's a sweet confection with nothing much of substance in its crafty core.
We don't learn much about Lalaloopsy Land as we meet its citizens, including Jewel, Mittens and Peanuts (named for an aspect of their interests, respectively princesses, snow and the circus.) All you get is what you see, which is a design based on crafting, with obvious threads holding everything together and defined fabric patterns, while the characters stick strictly to their defined personalities, which carry over to their pets, as well as baby versions in some cases (possibly sisters?) The look is very charming, right down to the girls' button eyes and the flat, yet crisply shaded curls in their hair, capturing some of the bold, modern design of shows like Wow Wow Wubbzy, but there's a lack of backstory that makes it hard to embrace the show.
The thin plot of this film centers around a surprise announcement that Peanut will be making, but they realize that their friend Pillow (and her pet Sheep) are missing, so they set out to find her. Pillow's problem is she's a bit of a narcoleptic, as she falls asleep anywhere and at any time. This makes finding her a bit of a hassle, and it send the girls all over Lalaloopsy Land to try an find her. Unfortunately, not a whole lot happens along the way, with the exception of seeing more of their world. There's not much in the way of comedy or lessons, and there's not much drama either (though that's pretty rare in this genre anyway.) As a result, the 75 minutes feels a lot longer than it is.
However, to my little girl, who has a collection of Lalaloopsy dolls and an unbreakable addiction to all things cute and "awwwwww"-worthy, it couldn't have lasted long enough. She laughed at the silly baby talk of the mini-Lalaloopsies, she smiled at their goofy behaviors and she just generally bathed in the adorableness of it all. When I asked her what she liked most about it, all she'd say was "It's so cute." Now, normally I like her to get something out of a movie or a TV show, which is why I don't mind her ceaseless viewings of Too Cute and How It's Made as she learns about her world. But this is just meaningless outside of its Paul Frank-like appeal. But at least it's not Bratz, Lalaloopsy's parent company's other big product line. In fact, it couldn't be more opposite, and for that I am quite thankful.
The 75-minute movie arrives on one disc, in a standard-width keepcase with an embossed slipcover that repeats the cover art. The disc has an animated, anamorphic widescreen menu with options to play the film, select scenes or check out the extras. There are no audio options or subtitles, but closed captioning is included.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer looks stunningly clean, especially for DVD, as the bright colors come across beautifully and there's quite a high level of detail, which really shows in the thread details on the edges of the characters and settings. There's nothing noticeably problematic here, as there are no obvious digital artifacts.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is mainly about the characters' dialogue, which stays up front in the center channel, and is clear and clean, with the music getting support in the surround speakers, where you'll also find a few nice sound effects, though there's nothing dynamic about the mix. That said, it is far more impressive than anyone would expect coming in.
There are actually a few extras included, starting with a sing-a-long of the movie's theme song. It's insanely catchy, but the problem is, it moves like greased lighting in several spots, which can make it hard for even the best young reader (or their parents) to keep up. After one pass, my daughter turned to me and said "Can we do that again? I couldn't even read the words!"
The song is followed by five short mini-adventures, running around two or three minutes each. (These can be viewed individually or as a group.) There's not a lot of plot to these stories, with some barely existing beyond the initial set-up. But they were cute enough to entertain my daughter, so they have that going for them.
Also included on the disc is an reel of trailers for other Lionsgate kids releases.
The Bottom Line
It's hard to find fault with the world of Lalaloopsy, as it's full of adorable, well-crafted animation, and free of any kind of questionable content, but it's also free of any genuine plot or content. It's the ultimate in kid-friendly empty viewing calories, powered by pure cuteness. However, my daughter sat through it happily, enjoying every sugary morsel. The DVD looks and sounds quite fine, and there are a few extras to check out, making this an easy recommendation for anyone with a girly girl at home to entertain.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.