As the actor Sir Donald Wolfit (though it has been attributed to many others also) is supposed to have famously quipped when, in his death bed, he was asked how he was feeling "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." Truer words have rarely been spoken. Watching a great comedy it seems so easy. String together a bunch of funny lines, add a humorous plot, and watch the audience fall out of their chairs laughing. It doesn't always work that way however. Case in point: the animated film The Chosen One. While it has an interesting premise and some talented voice actors the movie never really gets off the ground but manages to crash during the ending anyway.
Lou is a perpetual student who has been kicked out of college because the institution "no longer has the faculty, resources, or patience" to ummm, allow him to pay them money. In any case, while things were going well when he was a student, now that he isn't paying for tuition or books he's into his ears in debt. He gets a job as a lab tech, but is fired when he shows up one morning because it "is the third time [he's] been late this week and it's only Tuesday." His girl friend dumps him, his car gets demolished by a Chinese satellite that falls to Earth, and he gets mauled by a bear, pretty much all in one day.
Going home on the bus, he stops by the Church of Frank hoping to get a handout. He gets more than that as the bear bite on his arm pegs Lou as the Chosen One. Even though he doesn't buy it, the Church will give him $30,000 if he visits the Mountain of Echoes in the promised land: Kansas.
So Lou bums a ride from his ex-coworker Donna (Danielle Fishel), lets his geriatric roommate Zeb (Chris Sarandon) tag along, and hits the road to Kansas. Things aren't that easy however because members of the Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim churches have banded together to stop him, and they've hired a team of unstoppable mercenaries to make sure he never gets to the Mountain. Luckily Lou bumps into someone (Lucifer (Tim Curry) ) who shows how to access his superpowers. But will heat vision, flying and invulnerability be enough?
While the premise is amusing, in execution it just doesn't work. The jokes are all really bad (the fact that the promised land is Kansas is one of the better ones) and the dialog stilted and awkward. The plot tends to meander, and at the end it zooms off into a metaphysical discussion about the nature of good and bad. It ends with the notion that the world we have is the best of all possible options. You could make that case for someone living in the western world, but I think the people in Darfur might disagree.
The film was animated with a very flat 2D style similar to South Park. It was fairly appropriate since the characters themselves were very flat and two dimensional. While this style was cute for a minute or two, there was such little movement that it was more reminiscent of the old Star Trek cartoon than South Park.
I was given a DVD-R to review that contained only the movie. It was obviously not the final product and should end up being significantly different from the retail version. As such I can't review the A/V quality or the extras. I've left those ratings blank, but will revisit this review if/when the final product arrives.
For a comedy, my main criterion for rating a film is how much I laugh.
Sure, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is stupid, but I laughed so it's
good. This film was also stupid, but I didn't laugh. I was mildly
amused in one or two scenes, but honestly I can't remember which ones they
were, and I finished watching the movie about 2 hours ago. If you're
curious give it a rental, but this wouldn't be a good blind purchase.