Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

If you love your kids... just say no

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It can be hard to keep up with pop culture. One Direction -- is that a band? That new redheaded Disney starlet -- what's her name? It's a peril of modernity that no matter how much a person wants to stay tuned in, there's just no way to keep up.

So when something such as The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure rolls around, it is understandable to start wondering: Was this a big hit in Denmark or a sensation in Australia? Did I miss something? Should I know this?

The answer, in every way imaginable, is no. The Oogieloves are not an already-beloved set of characters, but a prefab construction meant to appear like a beloved set of characters.

Kenn Viselman, described in publicity materials as "the marketing visionary" of Teletubbies and Thomas the Tank Engine, has overseen writer Scott Stabile and director Matthew Diamond in presenting three brightly colored, oversize felty young friends along with a talking pillow, fish, window and vacuum cleaner.

While it's tempting to call the plan cynical, the results are so ineffectual and disengaging that it may be better to call it just plain dumb.

Goobie, Zoozie and Toofie get Schluufy some magic balloons for his birthday. When the balloons get away from them, they set off on an adventure around Lovelyloveville to get them back, aided by Ruffy, Windy and J. Edgar (yes, he's the vacuum).

No more can be said of the story. Chazz Palminteri, Jaime Pressly, Toni Braxton, Cary Elwes, Christopher Lloyd and Cloris Leachman appear in brief roles, all looking slightly confused and vaguely embarrassed.

The film, which has a curious 2009 copyright date, should have just stayed on whatever shelf it had been sitting on. Viselman describes it as "the world's first interactive movie" for the way it cues audiences to get up to dance and sing.

At a recent press screening, the youngsters in attendance lost steam at a steady clip, stopping with the standing and the sitting in favor of simply running up and down the aisles.

For the sake of the children, The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure should be allowed to quietly float away.

-- McClatchy Newspapers

Other voices

Selected excerpts from reviews of The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure:

There are no villains in this movie but there's lots of suspense and problem solving involved in retrieving the balloons.

-- Abby West, Entertainment Weekly

It's like paying to watch a dumbed-down mash-up of the least creative parts of Teletubbies, Barney & Friends and Pee-wee's Playhouse.

-- Loren King, Boston Globe

If you have preschoolers or fond memories of tots smiling at friendly costumed characters, you may find a soft spot for this gentle film...

-- Nancy Churnin, Dallas Morning News

Nobody is mean in this movie. They talk very loud.

-- A.O. Scott, New York Times

Enduring this brainless kids' film is akin to witnessing the end of the world.

-- Nick Schager, Slant magazine

Compiled by Shane Minkin

Movie review

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure

Starring Cloris Leachman, Jamie Pressly and Chazz Palminteri

Polo Park, Towne


83 minutes

One star out of five

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2012 D4

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