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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Fairly OddParents: Abra-Catastrophe The Movie
The Fairly OddParents: Abra-Catastrophe The Movie
Paramount // Unrated // July 15, 2003
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jason Bovberg | posted July 31, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

You might have seen episodes of The Fairly OddParents on Nickelodeon. This manic animated show presents the magical kiddie adventures of 10-year-old Timmy Turner, who just happens to have a pair of fairy godparents who guide him through his preteen existence at home and at school. Unfortunately, these mystical creatures are somewhat insane. Cosmo and Wanda—the Fairly OddParents (get it?)—are a screeching pair of bug-eyed fairies, always at the ready with a lame joke or a tired pop-culture reference. And that pretty much sums up this film—it's a spastically edited, made-for-Nickelodeon feature for the ADD set, and it also relentlessly tosses out strained "poke-the-ribs-of-the-adult" jokes in an attempt to amuse the parents.

Me? I was put off by the whole thing. I started watching it with my daughter, but the aggressively loud tone of the production made me fear for her psychological well being, so I turned it off to watch it later. (My own psychological well being is long since destroyed, so no fear there.)

The show seems to be taking its cue from the vastly superior SpongeBob Squarepants and Jimmy Neutron, but unfortunately it lacks the goofy, laidback charm of the former and the retro heart of the latter. The animation of Fairly OddParents is an odd amalgamation of The Jetsons and Ren & Stimpy, and also incorporates digital animation. But if there's anything pleasingly quirky about the show's look, it's undone by the hysterically screaming voicework of the characters. I found myself wincing as the convulsive characters brayed just-plain-bad jokes at me. And the whiplash editing gave me a tic in my right eye that still hasn't gone away.

The story of this feature finds Timmy the recipient of a magic muffin on the occasion of his 1-year Fairy-Versary. The muffin gives him the ability to wish for anything he wants. Unfortunately, he loses the muffin, and anyone who later takes a bite can make a similar wish. When we meet the devious and power-hungry schoolteacher Mr. Crocker (Carlos Alazraqui, doing his best, most blatant Mr. Burns ripoff, complete with drawn-out "Excellent!"), it's clear where the plot is moving—toward a Crocker-dominated planet! But then a monkey gets ahold of the muffin, and things start going seriously awry.

To its credit, the film offers a few inspired moments. Although the film seems proud of its opening dream sequence, in which Timmy finds himself a part of Empire Strikes Back, Spider-Man, and Jurassic Park parodies (I must admit to deriving some joy from the use of Jar-Jar Binks as a blunt instrument), the most imaginative section of the film is the final 20 minutes, in which the film's "reality" opens up and lets the characters really have some fun. Finally, some creativity and cleverness creeps into Abra-Catastrophe. But it's too late. Most everything that comes before those final 20 minutes is a loud concoction of frenzied images that all comes across as trying too hard.

HOW'S IT LOOK?

Paramount presents Fairly Oddparents: Abra-Catastrophe in a vivid full-frame transfer of the film's original 4:3 television presentation. I found very little to complain about here, as the image is rock solid, offering wonderful colors and an impressive level of detail. If I were being nit-picky, I would point out the minor aliasing (particularly noticeable on large sets), slight ringing at hard edges, but who's complaining? This transfer is just fine.

HOW'S IT SOUND?

The disc's Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation is surprisingly full and active. The musical score and sound effects fare the best, with rich depth across the entire front soundstage. Dialog levels are spot-on, and clarity is above average, with some minor distortion at the top end. However, with rare exceptions, voices are rooted at the center.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE?

The most substantive extra is an Audio Commentary by Cosmo and Wanda, which is just as loud and shrill and obnoxious as you can imagine. I honestly couldn't take much more than 5 minutes of this, but I skipped around to get a general notion of how fantastically headache-inducing it is. Essentially, it's Daran Norris and Susan Blakeslee (the Fairly OddParents) in character for the entire track. Good God.

The "Wish Come True" Storyboard is a 2-minute presentation of the original storyboards for a musical sequence in the film. It contains finished audio.

You also get a Photo Gallery of "stills" from the film.

Behind the Scenes is a collection of three interstitial efforts about the show. These brief (1-2 minute) pieces were featured between commercials on Nickelodeon. Their titles are Fairly OddParents Statue, Background Design, and Making Faces.

Finally, there's a selection of Nickelodeon Previews.

WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?

The Fairly OddParents is surely one of the lesser efforts from the Nickelodeon animation brigade, but Abra-Catastrophe does offer an imaginative final act. The DVD offers a fine video-audio presentation, but the extras are thin, save for an ear-piercing commentary.

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