Directed by Hugh Wilson
Review by Matt Heffernan
After Inspector Gadget, I was deeply worried that yet another childhood favorite would be destroyed on the big screen. The Matthew Broderick/Sarah Jessica Parker connection only made it worse. But, somebody out there must have taken pity on me.
"Dudley Do-Right" was one of many cartoon creations from the same people who made "Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "Underdog", which were some of the best animated shows ever. The superior quality of the base material helps make the Dudley Do-Right live-action film much better than this year's previous installment. Brendan Fraser plays the title character: a bumbling Mountie from a remote part of Canada. His arch-nemesis, Snidely K. Whiplash (Alfred Molina), hatches a plot to take over the small town of Semihappy Valley.
After robbing a bank, Snidely makes gold shotgun bullets, and starts peppering the landscape with bullion. He also stole the mortgages to everything in town, so he cleans up when a huge gold rush comes to town. Dudley discovers this scheme, but is relieved of duty when he tries to stop something that appears to be a great benefit to the area. Now Dudley must become a "bad guy" in order to stop Snidely, who is considered a savior.
I was quite surprised to find that this film manages to preserve the same tone from the original series. It is pure slapstick, but with a playful wit. Fraser doesn't try to mimic the cartoon voice, thankfully sparing us from that. But, he does make a good doofus, and Molina is an appropriately sniveling meanie.
Most importantly, unlike Inspector Gadget, this one is actually tolerable for adults. It even throws in a parody of Riverdance, which would fly right over the kids' heads. It does get a little stretched out in the middle. A lot of the central material is just filler to spread it out to feature length. Kids should like it, because it's not condescending, and there are no forced morals at the end.
Also on the horizon is a Rocky and Bullwinkle live-action feature. Hopefully, they will learn from this film. Besides, they did get Jason Alexander to play Boris Badenov, and even Robert De Niro to play the "fearless leader". Now that should be interesting.
Opening Short: The Phox, the Box, and the Lox
In the tradition of the original show, the feature was preceded by a "Fractured Fairy Tales" short. It was animated in the same style as the original, and was based on a traditional fable. It wasn't quite as good as one of the originals, but it is an introduction to the style of humor in the film.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Dudley Do-Right (1999)
Fractured Fairy Tales: The Phox, the Box & the Lox (1999)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings
Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan