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ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Cartoon villains Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro) Boris Badenov (Jason Alexander) and Natasha Fatale (Rene Russo) have broken the secret code, making the giant leap from their cartoon existence into the real world. They have devised a plot to take over the world through the creation of a new mindless TV network, RBTV (Really Bad Television), which will hypnotise the world by election day. But first they have to get rid of 60s TV heroes Rocky the Flying Squirrel (voice of June Foray) and Bullwinkle the Moose (voice of Keith Scott), who team up with brave-but-stupid rookie FBI agent Karen Sympathy (Piper Perabo) in a bid to save the day.

"Jay Ward's well-loved cartoon characters blast their way onto the big screen in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, a live-action/animation fun mix of spoof, satire and corny humour. While lacking the immediate delights of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, these unlikely heroes have a cheesy charm of their own, which grows surely and steadily as the tale unfolds. This is the kind of film that will have you chuckling silently at the parodies and the in-jokes and delight at the impeccable performances by the top star cast. Much of the humour is heavy handed and almost old-fashioned, while themes of high-tech bring it into the 21st Century. In fact there's a wonderful scene when Bullwinkle sends himself by email on the information superhighway, surf-boarding on an envelope through loopdaloop.com. Robert De Niro makes a super villain with his slick, shiny, tar-like hair gleaming like a dung beetle, while Rene Russo is a real scene stealer as the seductive Natasha. With hair like licorice straps and a never-ending purple slinky wardrobe and pink and puce make-up, she is a delicious cross between Cruella deVil and an East European femme fatale. Pairing Russo and Jason Alexander is a master stroke of casting – she is tall and lean, he is short and squat. This is the kind of sight-gag that works well. Piper Perabo makes a convincing heroine and the cameos are a treat, even if they don't have much substance. You just never know who's going to pop up next – be it Whoopi Goldberg, John Goodman, Billy Crystal or Janeane Garofalo. But of course, the real stars are the cute squirrel who's lost the knack of flying (June Foray first voiced Rocky 40 years ago) and that dumb 6'7" moose weighing 400 lbs of 'mostly mooscle' (wonderfully voiced by Australian Keith Scott, who also shines as the narrator). (A little aside - when we published Encore Magazine some years ago, Scott voiced our ansaphone messages for us; many would ring just to hear his humorous messages that borrowed the voices of Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Richard Nixon, Bob Hawke and others.) With its bright and melodic soundtrack and themes of friendship nurturing the child in each of us, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle is welcome escapism in a world where the lines between good and evil are clearly drawn, in this world of good, clean, innocent fun."
Louise Keller

"If ever two illustrated stereotypes were fashioned directly from Cold War paranoia they were R&B’s arch nemeses Boris and Natasha. Any generation loves a soaring squirrel and a moronic moose, but the No-Goodnik duo from Pottsylvania don’t readily appeal as feasible villains for a Year 2000 feature. The solution? A plot that simultaneously yanks them past the fall of the Berlin Wall and into reality. Good manoeuvre. Making the CGI—real life combination a key element of the narrative affords a plethora of self-parody possibilities, and smug cleverness was always the cartoon series’ definitive feature. It never dumbed down for children, they reached for it. As a pre-pubescent fan I adored the satire, the word play, the witty asides, and the flippant commentary of the supercilious narrator. Only kidding. I really loved the cute creatures and the fantastic absurdity. It was already in reruns before I was born, but growing up with it, and gradually realising how much previously went over my head, revealed its enduring quality. Attempting to cater to both adults and children can be a recipe for boring all ages, but Rocky and Bullwinkle has always, including this latest incarnation, pulled it off. The only disappointing aspect is that the fascinating casting of De Niro and Alexander doesn’t quite deliver what it promises. They’re far too talented to portray cartoon characters in a sketchy way (sorry), but somehow their cartoon counterparts seem more animated (puns are the spirit here, you know). Instead, Australian voice mimic extraordinaire, Keith Scott, steals the show with his brilliant vocalisations of Bullwinkle and our loveably cynical narrator. Even more importantly, the writing’s as sharp as ever. Bullwinkle’s conjurer’s hat has vanished, but the overall magic materialises delightfully on the silver screen."
Brad Green

"The Hollywood scramble to turn baby boomer childhood television viewing habits into box office gold continues. Now it's the turn of the five-minute morning cartoon staple Rocky and Bullwinkle. All begins well and we can't wait for Bullwinkle's cheesy 'hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!' followed by the inevitable failure and typical ‘I better get another hat!' The first five minutes or so is extremely faithful to the old series with all the characters still in corny fast-paced animation land. We still have hope as they break free from their drawn world with the quality of actors cast as the villains. De Niro is masterful as the evil Fearless Leader, Jason Alexander gives it all he has, and Reno Russo is delightfully throaty and wicked as the worldly Natasha. New York based playwright Kenneth Lonergan provides a script that initially shows much promise, retaining the corn of the original while adding some extremely witty observations of the nature of the movie business. Studio exec Janeane Garofolo rejects a pile of scripts as 'too intelligent'. There is an actual green light house, allowing films to be made. The cartoon humour includes FBI talk of the three Generals: Foods, Store, and Admission; and signs such as Crymia River. Yet somehow, as is so often the case with both these revival attempts and live action - cartoon hybrids, it doesn't work. Both the cuteness and sophistication disappear, the Rocky and Bullwinkle animations present a seemingly unmanageable challenge for the human actors, and not once do we get the 'watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat' schtick. Disappointed.
Lee Gough

"I chuckled, I giggled, I laughed and I squirmed with pleasure at the bad puns. I never did have much to do with Rocky and Bullwinkle before, so I am a test case. Did I get the movie? Yesssiree, I did. I dig the zany puns and silly humour of it, I like the inventive story telling that delivers our cartoon characters across the time and technology gaps, and I felt thoroughly entertained. This is a worry, since the film is aimed at people young enough to be my …er…grandchildren. But the fun doesn’t come from sophistication v crude bins; it comes from the original creative premise that it was possible to entertain kids without treating them like morons. Don’t you be a fool, go and see it.
Andrew L. Urban



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HEAR Andrew L. Urban & Louise Keller talk about the film in Real Audio.

TRAILER

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with KEITH SCOTT

ADVENTURES OF ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, THE (G)
(US)

CAST: Robert De Niro, Jason Alexander, Rene Russo, Randy Quaid, Janeane Garofalo, John Goodman, Whoppi Goldberg, Billy Crystal – and the voices of Keith Scott as Narrator and Bullwinkle

DIRECTOR: Des McAnuff

PRODUCER: Jane Rosenthal, Jay Ward

SCRIPT: Kenneth Lonergan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Thomas Ackerman, A.S.C.

EDITOR: Dennis Virkler

MUSIC: Mark Mothersbaugh

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gavin Bocquet

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 11, 2001

The characters of Rocky & Bullwinkle first appeared in Jay Ward’s series Rocky & His Friends on ABC TV (US) in November 1959.

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UPCOMING EVENT
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney.

Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.







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