You can't create a phenomenon. It has to happen organically. You can't force people to flock to your film, buy millions of copies of your album, or tune in to the latest installment of your celebrated TV series. Sure, it today's tech savvy social media world, a fad is much easier to manufacture (it's now called "going viral") but the effects are almost always short-lived and anticlimactic. So when a couple of kid show producers wanted to craft something new, something Barney, something Teletubbies, something The Wiggles, they decided to go big, or go home. No PBS or small market broadcast basis from which to build. No cute or cuddly toy line from which they could pull from and profit. No collection of direct to DVD titles that have parents yanking out their hair while their ADD-addled ankle biters play them over and over and over again. No, in this case, producer Kenn Viselman and director Matthew Diamond came up with the Oogieloves, a cinematic disaster guaranteed to give nightmares to those guardians who find the Backyardigans and Yo Gabba Gabba filling up their sleepless dawns.
Yes, they made a movie, and boy oh boy what a movie it is. The Oogieloves are three human sized puppets so brightly colored and simplistic in shape that zygotes would find them crude. Goobie is the brainy one. Toofie is the "totally rad" athletic one. Zoozie is the token girl. They live in Lovelyloveville in a gadget-filled playhouse ala a brain damaged Pee-wee and are friends with a talking goldfish named Ruffie, an all seeing window named Windy, and a Hoover vacuum cleaner named...wait for it...J. Edgar. While planning a birthday party for a pillow, the aforementioned appliance looses five magical balloons. Using Windy's ability to find things, the Oogieloves head out to locate the missing favors.
In each case, they run into a proposed comical character. There's Dottie Rounder (Cloris Leachman) who is obsessed with circles, Marvin Milkshake (Chazz Palminteri...yes, you read that right) as a diner owner who can make a refreshing ice cream beverage out of anything, Bobby Wobbly (Carey Elwes, about as tortured as he was in Saw) who loves to shake and shimmy, the diva like Rosalie Rosebud (Toni Braxton) who sings a song about having a cold, and Mr. and Mrs. Sombero - Lero (Christopher Lloyd) and Lola (Jamie Pressly) - who enjoy a bit of flamenco dancing. With their help, the Oogieloves gather their balloons, which turn out to be magical, and return to their home. There, they have a big to-do for a throw cushion.
It's easy to see that if you were three, incapable of wholly rational thought, still developing the cognitive skills to help you "know better," and had 80 minutes of free time between naps and your next BM, you'd be up swinging from the chandeliers to the Oogieloves noxious "interactive" idiocy. Yes, when this played in theaters (for about a minute back in the Spring of 2013), it offered ways for the already unsettled spawn in the audience to get up, get buz-eee, and bust a move. Preserved here to make Moms and Dads and StepMoms and StepDads and unfortunate baby sitters and angry adolescent siblings' lives a living Hell, a group of CG butterflies appear on the screen commanding kids to get up and dance/sing/embarrass themselves along. When they want said sugared and hyper bratlings to simmer down and follow the story, a group animated turtles arrive to put the preschoolers back in their place. That's about the extent of the creativity involved here. Whenever the movie needs a placeholder for the plot, call out the cartoons and get the already distracted kids up and moving.
As for the rest of the film, well, it's hard not to hate everything about it. For instance, the joke about J. Edgar, the Hoover, requires some actual thought, which is clearly above the average member of the demo's mental pay grade. Similarly, the arrival of Leachman, Palminteri, and Lloyd scream for a cult conceit that the movie will never achieve. Some have argued that this could be the next Rocky Horror or Eraserhead, but only if you stripped both of those manic midnight movies of anything remotely entertaining or enticing...and another thing. Was Mr. Elwes Southern drawl so offensive or bad that he had to be dubbed, or was his work so poorly captured, technically, that all of his dialogue had to be done in post? It's outrageous in its obviousness. Granted, one could imagine some kids enjoying this sprawling, spastic mess. After all, serial killers gotta get their start somewhere.
While we are being a bit harsh, The Oogiloves in the Big Balloon Adventure really is nothing more than product, and the digital presentation of same shows. The extras include an interactive brain game (so easy even a dope smoking frat boy could figure it out) and an introduction to the characters, which is unnecessary since the first five minutes of the movie covers this is a solid, sledgehammer to the cranium fashion. As for the more technical elements of the release, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image is sharp, colorful, and like crack for the synapses. You can audibly hear your brain cells screaming ala George C. Scott in Hardcore, "TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF." It's all cone and rod overload. The sound will drive you equally insane. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix is not what you would call immersive, but it does deliver some decent multichannel elements. But the Oogiloves dialogue and voice work is like tinfoil on your teeth while scraping your nails on a chalkboard. OUCH!
Back in the days of exploitation, nudie cutie and gorehound filmmakers like Herschell Gordon Lewis and Barry Mahon created some of the most crazy crackpipe kiddie productions EVER. With names like The Magic Land of Mother Goose, Jimmy the Boy Wonder, The Wonderful Land of Oz, and Jack and the Beanstalk, they represented the baser, bottom feeder level of meaningless Saturday matinee fodder, until now. Each of the aforementioned is "Mrs. Falbo's Tiny Town" compared to The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure. If you hate your offspring, buy them this junk. If you actually want your children to grow up well adjusted, socially interactive, and contributing to the civilization, avoid this electronic babysitter at all costs. If you don't care, then Rent It, and when the world comes to a crashing end a generation from now, we'll know who, and what to blame.
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