The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Review Date:
Director: Des McAnuff
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Producers: Jane Rosenthal, Robert DeNiro
Robert DeNiro as Fearless Leader
Rene Russo as Natasha
Jason Alexander as Boris
Piper Perabo as Karen Sympathy
After having been cancelled from television back in the 1960s, TV cartoon characters Rocky and Bullwinkle are left to dwindle their lives away in their animated world of Frostbite Falls, until their nefarious counterparts, Boris, Natasha and Fearless Leader escape, and take a live-action leap into today’s real world. It isn’t long before the cartoon two-some are summoned by a rookie FBI agent in the hopes of squishing Fearless Leader’s maniacal plot to become the president of the United States.
A very cartoony film with a quick pace, may be suited for fans of the old series, but falls flat within today’s comedic standards set by the Simpsons, with many unfunny goofy puns, easy jokes and childish pranks. Strangely enough, many of the jokes in this film are geared towards adults with many play-on-words and literal interpretations, but at the same time, the film is more than obviously meant for children, with a silly plot, over-the-top bad guys and oh-so simple humor (“Allow me to be frank with you” – “Oh hullo Frank, I’m Bullwinkle”). Yeesh! Yet another COPS parody also didn’t twirl my nipples, and neither did half a million Bullwinkle misinterpretations, which I suppose were meant to be funny, but just left me feeling kind of, well…bored. I’ll admit that I was never much of a fan of the original TV series on which this film is based (if I was flipping the channels and it was on, I generally tuned in for a bit, but that was about it), but I reckon that most kids who will go see this movie, would not have seen it either, so let’s just hope that they “get it”. Personally, I wasn’t taken by either of the two leads, be it Rocky or Bullwinkle, and I especially didn’t care for the dim-witted aspect of the Moose. Oh, I get it…he’s stupid, so that’s funny!

To be fair, I did hear quite a few people laughing in my audience, but even then, most of them were adults. I suppose that if you’re in “the mood” and appreciate the “Bullwinkle humor”, then you might enjoy this film, which to its credit, doesn’t take itself seriously for a moment, and sure doesn’t pretend to be about anything either. It’s a cartoon movie with some live-action stars intermixed. In the end, the film will either work for you or not depending on your connection to the humor. The film’s first 20 minutes are probably its most ambitious, with an excellent explanation of how the badly drawn duo from the 60s got to be the better-looking 3D animation characters in the year 2000. There is also a pretty cool sequence featuring Bullwinkle literally “surfing the Internet” near the end, but other than that, the effects did little to impress me. The film is also filled with plenty of cameos (see below), most of which feature actors whose best work is long behind them, and also stars a cute Britney Spears wannabee FBI agent, who I’ve never heard of before, but from whom I wouldn’t mind hearing again! Robert DeNiro must’ve taken a little less than a week to film his scenes, because he’s barely in the film, while Alexander and Russo both perform admirably as the notorious No-Goodniks from Pottsylvania, Boris and Natasha. But in the end, without much to impress me visually, without much humor to make me laugh, and without much of a story (granted, the film is a cartoon, you don’t really expect much there), the film didn’t do much for me.

But who knows, others may just enjoy it on their own level as an empty, frivolous, campy (funny to some), children’s cartoon. And for anyone who wants to tell me to “lighten up”, I’d be more than happy to accept your directive. I’ll be the one watching yet another hilarious episode of TV’s “The Simpsons”. Now, there’s some real humor!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle