When a film is released without a press screening, as was the case with DOOGAL, one expects to find in it a certain level of ineptitude. Here, though, is something that transcends merely being bad, merely inspiring a torrent of vitriol before consigning it to the more insulated portions of one’s memory. This has done something no other film has ever done. This is the first time that a film has made me ponder where child protective services are when you need them. This abysmal animated effort is completely devoid of charm, wit, humor, or a storyline that makes sense to anyone with even the most rudimentary of verbal skills. The real crime, though, is that some small child, innocent and trusting, will see it and think that this is what funny means. And it’s moments like that that can potentially lead to a life of loneliness and/or spree killing.
Doogal is a dog. He loves candy and looks like a dust mop. My friend, Pammy G, who bravely endured the film along with me, opined that he looked like a cockroach, though that could have been the pain of having her aesthetic sensibility assaulted doing the talking.
But I digress.
Doogal also has a penchant for getting into trouble and this time he’s threatened the existence of the entire planet by crashing a candy cart into a carousel and releasing an evil wizard. Well, actually, it’s an evil spring (the “boing boing” kind, not the babbling brook kind). It tells, and I cannot overemphasize this enough, MUCH better than it plays. That the evil spring has a mustache that shoots out magic rays that turn anything into solid ice doesn’t even tell well. He’s after magic diamonds that will help him freeze the sun. There’s a good spring that wants to stop him by sending Doogal and his distinctly unsuper hero pals to thwart the nefarious scheme. There is a cow who is only half-again as tall as Doogal, a snail that is the same size as Doogal and is in love with the cow, and a bunny rabbit, which is one character too many. That the good spring doesn’t take his magical powers and go himself reveals a lack of careful thought put into this by anyone.
The dialogue is an ungainly mix of saccharine sentiment and lame spoof. Spoofing should be one of the easiest of the comedic forms, and yet DOOGAL misses the mark every single time as it riffs on every film in the fantasy genre from LORD OF THE RINGS to the MATRIX to THE WIZARD OF OZ while never once betraying the slightest whiff of being funny about it. Calling something “my precious” because there’s time to kill just doesn’t cut it. It’s almost as though the writers were trying to simultaneously irritate the audience and bore it beyond the point of any safe return.
DOOGAL is based on a wildly popular children’s show that flourished in England in the 1960s. I have never seen it, so can’t weigh in on whether the film version has captured whatever it was that gave it a cult following. If this is a true rendering, though, it goes far to explain why the sun finally set on the British Empire.