The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for brief mild language
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Piper Perabo, Robert De Niro, Jason Alexander, Rene Russo, Randy Quaid
Director: Des McAnuff
Screenplay: Kenneth Lonergan
Review published December 31, 2000
I must admit, although the trailer and commercials for this film made it look awful, I was still hopeful I would be wrong considering I enjoyed the old animated television show. I figure it might be interesting for some good dumb, but intelligently dumb, fun. After watching the live (although partially animated) version in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, I can only conclude that the concept and humor for Rocky and Bullwinkle was ahead of its time in the 60s and past its prime in the year 2000. Although much of the humor and tone of the film is on par with it's original source, the sight gags and puns type humor was done to death by better films like Airplane!, The Naked Gun, and just about any Leslie Nielsen film afterward. The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle isn't the worst film of 2000, but it may be one with the least reason to exist.
35 years after the cancellation of their show, Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose are found in retirement in their secluded animated home. Their enemies, Boris (Alexander, For Better or Worse) and Natasha (Russo, The Thomas Crown Affair), as well as Fearless Leader (De Niro, Analyze This), manage to break into the real world from their animated one and wreak havoc with a plan to take over using bad television that hypnotizes all viewers. Perabo (Coyote Ugly) stars as FBI agent Karen Sympathy, who manages to get Rocky and Bullwinkle into the real world in hopes they can stop the sinister trio's insidious plans.
Problems exist on almost every level of the production, but the main detraction comes mostly from bad casting. Jason Alexander may be short and hefty, but is a far cry from Boris, while Rene Russo, although top billed, has very few lines in the film...understandable since she is no Natasha. De Niro as Fearless Leader is a bit of a puzzlement since Boris and Natasha have always been the foils to Rocky and Bullwinkle, so it was unusual watching the baddies take a back seat for his sake. Piper Perabo is far too young and dopey to believe as an FBI agent, while the list of cameo appearances (Billy Crystal, Jonathan Winters, Whoopi Goldberg, John Goodman and others) may provide brief moments of surprise, but add little to the humor of the film.
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle is a film that may have been funny if it were released in the 60s, but for today's audience it serves as only a curiosity for fans of the original television show. It's largely unfunny, unhip, and a poorly conceived film that will do little more than make you feel you've wasted 90 minutes of your life for minimal returns. Those overwhelmed with nostalgia would do best to seek out watching the old shows playing SOMEWHERE at almost any hour on your 4000 cable channels, as you won't get a fix with this poor recreation.
©2000 Vince Leo