Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
Criminal mastermind Fearless Leader has purchased all cable TV channels and replaced the programming with really bad shows (that would explain a lot). His evil intent: to hypnotize the entire population before Election Day, thereby assuring himself victory in the next presidential election. During the execution of his plan, Fearless Leader and those villainous spies from Pottsylvania, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, escape a two-dimensional animated realm and make the leap into the real world. But have no fear – Rocky and Bullwinkle are here.
Based on characters developed by Jay Ward, the film has Robert De Niro starring as Fearless Leader, with Jason Alexander as the evil Boris Badenov and Rene Russo as his seductive sidekick, Natasha Fatale.
Armed with puns, sight gags and farcical names (Karen Sympathy, Cappy Von Trapment, Minnie Mogul), “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” takes us back to a time when writers found humor in things other than flatulence. Alas, I’m on the antlers of a dilemma. I really wanted to like this film, but I found too many of the gags missing their mark and the story beginning to peter out. Will it hold the attention of little ones? Maybe. And adults? Hey, they’re just going to please the kids.
For those of us who loved “Fractured Fairy Tales” and “Peabody’s Improbable History,” disappointment will quickly set in with the realization that the voices and clever satire of “The Bullwinkle Show” are sadly missing. June Foray still does the voice of Rocky, but she sounds tired. Although Keith Scott (no relation to Bill Scott, the original Bullwinkle voice) gives a valiant attempt at recreating the narrator, the late William Conrad’s droll delivery just can’t be matched.
The film’s biggest disappointment, however, is the scant and unsatisfying use of Jonathan Winters. Here, he appears occasionally, mugging his way through several thoughtless characterizations. We laugh when he is first seen, due to memories of past hysterics, but, like the other live-action actors, he doesn’t do anything worth a smile, let alone a chuckle.
Rocket J. Squirrel delivers a nice message for kids: “You need the most faith when things look the most helpless.” But what a harsh reality for moose and squirrel – and the rest of us, when they discover that their animated world was much funnier than this screenwriter’s real one.