Review by Mark Walker of Marked Movies
As a co-host for this Blogathon, I like to begin by stating – for the record – that there will be no bias from either myself or Tyson regarding the movies of DeNiro. We may be massive fans of the actor, himself, but there’s no denying that some of his films just don’t cut it. As I have seen a great number of DeNiro’s movies, I was, unfortunately, left with ones I’d rather avoid but in keeping with the rules of the Blogathon I still had to choose. I did, however, hope against hope that I might have misjudged and that I’d still be treated to something unexpectedly good. Alas, my preconceived opinions proved to be correct. This is, quite possibly, the very worst cinematic experience of my life.
Criminal mastermind Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro) and his hench-persons; Boris Badanov (Jason Alexander) and Natasha Fatale (Rene Russo) manage to break free of their animated world and leap into reality. Their plan is to start a villainous television show that hypnotises people in order to take over the world. Enter, flying squirrel, Rocky and talking moose Bullwinkle to thwart their plans of domination.
Director Des McAnuff seems to have good intentions with this film adaptation of Jay Ward’s 1960’s TV show and the concept in bringing it back to a contemporary audience is a plausible one. Robert Zemeckis managed to successfully blend live-action and animation with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in 1988, so who’s to say that it couldn’t be done again?. With these type of films, anything goes but, unfortunately, where this goes isn’t anywhere noteworthy. It could be applauded for it’s self-referential approach or it’s intention to bridge the gap between older and younger viewers, or it could be derogated for it’s unrelentingly dull plot and distinct lack of creativity. On this occasion, I’m camping out on the latter.
It’s actually quite hard to determine it’s target audience as it’s referential puns are likely to go over children’s heads while being too fragmented and ridiculous to please older viewers who may have a nostalgic view of the original cartoon. Granted, it’s fully aware of it’s silly and ridiculous nature and, without any pretensions, plays it accordingly. This self-awareness still doesn’t stop it from being a complete misfire, though. When it get’s to the point of DeNiro sending up his own “You talkin’ you me?” ad-lib from Taxi Driver, you realise that any good or humorous intentions this film has, simply aren’t working.
The thing is, it actually has a lot of talent on show. Besides DeNiro, there’s Rene Russo, Randy Quaid and a whole host of cameos from the likes of John Goodman, Janeane Garafalo, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal. On screenwriting duties is the Oscar nominated Kenneth Lonergan who has also been responsible for Gangs of New York and the troubled but underrated Margaret. With all this talent involved, I can only assume that they had delusions of adequacy.
As for DeNiro, it could be asked why he was even involved in the first place. For a start, he was apparently a big fan of the show and secondly, him and his production company Tribeca where pulling the financial strings. His performance is actually quite entertaining and he seems to be rolling with the punches but, in all honesty, he’s hardly in it and despite his game efforts whenever he is onscreen, he just can’t turn this stinker around.
Without a doubt, I’ve taken one for the team here as I think this is probably the worst DeNiro film I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing about it, that flushing down the toilet wouldn’t cure. I think I would have proffered something along the lines of the following photograph…