Video Views

“Rocky and Bullwinkle.” Rated PG. I give it a 2 on a scale of 5.

Every time somebody decides to make a ’60s cartoon TV show into a movie, I cringe. Before “Rocky and Bullwinkle” hit the silver screen and video stores, no Hollywood genius had been able to pull off the big move.

Sadly, I have to say, the classic Jay Ward cartoon fares no better than any of the others. At times it’s a bad movie; at other times, it’s downright putrid.

The first 20 minutes or so of the 88-minute film are used to set the stage. It seems Boris (Jason Alexander) and Natasha (Rene Russo) need something to do to occupy their Russian agent retirement years, so they pitch a movie idea to Minnie Mogul (played by an uninspired Janeane Garafalo).

Joined by Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro, of all people), the agents attempt to take over the world with the help of their new production company, Real Bad TV. What ensues, however, is really bad movie making.

The best thing about this film is the return of the original voices of Rocky (June Foray) and Bullwinkle (Keith Scott). They sound as good as ever. Why Alexander and Russo get to step out of cartoonland and into the world of humans while the moose and squirrel don’t is never clearly explained.

Newcomer Piper Perabo is a fresh face as FBI agent Karen Sympathy. The spotlight is mostly on her, despite a boatload of cameos by some famous movie stars who should send me thank-you notes for not mentioning their names in the same breath as this clinker of a movie.

I appreciate a bad pun as much as the next guy, but even the worst of them cannot save this film from itself. The comedy is too cerebral for the kids and too inane for the adults. I did find myself chuckling occasionally, mostly at lines Bullwinkle J. Moose uttered.

The best thing I can say about this movie, however, is that it took me back to the good old days of my elementary school youth. I enjoyed the humor of Jay Ward back then. I even had a Dudley Do Right sweatshirt and wore it proudly.

I don’t know if it’s possible for a movie like “Rock and Bullwinkle” to have a complicated plot, but I had a very difficult time following what was going on at any given moment. Though the mix of animation and real-life characters was impressive, it’s just too bad those characters weren’t asked to do anything important…like act.

“Rocky and Bullwinkle,” to its credit, contains only mild violence and virtually no crude language. It features nothing even remotely sexual (Russo is about as asexual as she can be). But, if you are interested in showing your children the best of cartoon humor of the late 1950s and early ’60s, find a copy of the original show.

Bob Wade is a local video enthusiast. The videos he reviews come courtesy of Radio Shack/Quick Flick, 110 N. Main, Hillsboro.

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