Review: The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle

Blu-ray & DVD: The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)

Rocky and Bullwinkle were once the hottest cartoon duo in Hollywood, but since their show was cancelled in 1964, they have had to endure relative obscurity, with their memories only being kept alive by reruns. Their enemies, Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro), Boris Badenov (Jason Alexander), and Natasha Fatale (Rene Russo), escape from their cartoon existence and magically appear in the real world. Their plan is to turn the American public into mindless zombies using RBTV, (Really Bad TV) which in turn will make people vote Fearless Leader as the next President of the United States. Only Rocky and Bullwinkle stand in their way of world domination, but how will they cope with being in the real world?

To be honest, I had very limited knowledge of Rocky and Bullwinkle prior to watching the movie for review. I knew it was based on a cartoon, and I vaguely remember seeing the characters as I walked around Universal Studios some years ago. I was also aware that the movie was critically mauled and a box office disaster on its original release in 2000, which didn’t give me much hope that I was going to enjoy what I was about to watch.

To my surprise, I didn’t think it was a bad film at all, and in its favour the movie zips along at a nice pace meaning I didn’t feel bored at any point. The comedy is hit and miss, full of puns but, also self-aware and smart enough to point them out on occasion. I did chuckle as there were some witty jokes about television turning people into zombies, and celebrities being above the law! There are also some nice cameos from the likes of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Whoopie Goldberg and Carl Reiner. I didn’t even mind De Niro sending up one of his most famous characters with the line, “you talkin’ to me”, although I imagine this may irk some De Niro purists.

Saying all that, I think the main issue I have with the film (and I suspect others will feel the same who live outside of North America), is the lack of connection to the characters. I watched a lot of cartoons when I was kid but don’t remember Rocky and Bullwinkle being shown on UK television. I found it ironic that the plot of the movie almost mirrors my feelings about the heroes themselves, as they were totally irrelevant and meant nothing to me. With that being the case, I found it hard to care about anyone involved, and didn’t know if it was faithful to the cartoon, or if they had taken liberties for the big screen.

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle isn’t the total disaster that I was expecting, and viewed as a kid’s film it is perfectly entertaining. Although I can’t wholeheartedly recommend you go out and watch it, I think your enjoyment of the film will depend on how much you care about the original cartoon and characters.

EXTRAS:

‘Spotlight on Location’ – The making of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Theatrical Trailer, Production Notes, Cast and Filmmakers.

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Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With and The Same Coin) from a disc kindly supplied by Fabulous Films.