Doug's 1st Movie Nov 13, 2019 17:59:58 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Nov 13, 2019 17:59:58 GMT -5
Doug's 1st Movie (1999)
Directed by: Maurice Joyce
Directed by: Maurice Joyce
Skeeter and Doug venture out to the dock in Doug's 1st Movie.
When Nickelodeon began to branch out to animation, three very different shows came to fruition. Rugrats was the pioneer, a highly enjoyable program revolving around a gaggle of babies as they navigated the world as they barely knew it. The Ren & Stimpy Show was the gross-out diversion that wowed a demographic that was a bit older and craved humor a bit more edgy and irreverent. Then there was Doug, a refreshingly earnest program that preached the gospel of honesty and sincerity in a matter that wasn't overly sentimental. It had colorful characters and its titular preteen was a likable everyboy. Even the tone of the show was gentle and humble, right down to its quirky theme-song, which was comprised of mouth noises and scat-singing ala Roger Miller.
Doug originally ran on Nickelodeon from 1991 to 1994, but two years after it concluded, Disney acquired the rights and made it a Saturday morning staple on ABC, where it enjoyed a fruitful rebirth. The entire series would end with Doug's 1st Movie, an innocent but wholly unremarkable feature that still, in the present, screams of a movie that only got a theatrical release due to the unexpected box office success of The Rugrats Movie a few months prior.
The story opens with 12-year-old Doug Funnie (voiced by Tom McHugh) and his best pal Skeeter (Fred Newman), trekking out to find the fabled Monster of Lucky Duck Lake one evening when they venture out to a polluted pond in their neighborhood. Just when the school bully, Roger (Chris Phillips), and his gang think they're going to play the ultimate joke on Doug and Skeeter, a real monster emerges from the lake, with Skeeter's camera dropping but snapping their piece of undeniable evidence.
It turns out, the creature is actually friendly. They name it Herman Melville after it tries to scarf down a copy of Moby Dick at Doug's house. Concurrently, a school dance is about to happen, and Doug hatches a plan for him and his crush Patti Mayonnaise (Constance Shulman) to work on the dance together. However, his role is intercepted by Guy (Guy Hadley), the editor of the school paper, who, too, has connections with the evil corporate titan (Doug Preis) who is actively contaminating the waters of Lucky Duck Lake. It doesn't help Patti is convinced Doug has feelings for a new foreign exchange student, when in reality, it's the monster poorly dressed as a woman.
There's a modestly vocal group of folks who believe that Doug lost a lot of appeal and humor when it was revived by Disney, who rebranded it as Disney's Doug in 1996. I haven't watched enough of the series to make a judgment call, but it's easy to tell many of the voices were changed, including Doug's.
Moreover, the detail that became more apparent to me was how Doug's 1st Movie resembles Recess: School's Out, the film adaptation of the popular Disney toon Recess. Both films were based on shows that boasted a mostly realistic view of high school and grade school, respectively: the bond between peers, the value of doing the right thing, and the social politics that exist in school from a very young age were all on display and at the forefront of both programs. Why is it that the creative decision-makers and writers behind the films decided to take them into such implausible territory? As charming as Recess: School's Out is, the core premise of a mad scientist trying to install some form of climate control in order to abolish recess is admittedly asinine. Same goes for the concept of a monster inhabiting a polluted lake in Doug's 1st Movie.
The characters are their same likable selves, and the fact the film tries to address meaningful societal issues such as pollution and the value of responsible journalism is commendable, if only about as slight as can be when wedged into a 77 minute picture based on a Saturday morning cartoon. Doug deserved a bit better, or maybe, when it comes to this, he deserved the small-screen instead.
Starring: Tom McHugh, Fred Newman, Chris Phillips, Constance Shulman, Frank Welker, Guy Hadley, Doug Preis, and Alice Playten. Directed by: Maurice Joyce.