family movie Doug's 1st Movie

Doug's 1st MovieStarring the voices of Thomas McHugh, Fred Newman, Chris Phillips, Constance Shulman, Frank Welker, Guy Hadley.
Written by Ken Scarborough.
Directed by Maurice Joyce
1999; rated G.

Kid Grade: A
Mom Grade: C+

Review by Jen Walker.

An open letter to parents from Jen.

My 8-year-old daughter, Michele, was disappointed when we didn't make it out to the theater to see Doug's 1st Movie, because she really likes the TV series. After watching it on video, I realized that she hadn't missed all that much. With an 83-minute running time, this full-length feature film is about 53 minutes too long. There is nothing about Doug's 1st Movie that
sets it apart (or above) a half-hour episode of the series.

I couldn't help but feel that the filmmakers just assumed that everybody watching this movie was already intimately familiar with all the characters, and possibly even some of the story line. They were probably right. Most of the kids watching this video are most likely fans of TV show. However, many parents don't keep up to date with the weekly goings-on in Doug's fictional town of Bluffington. I didn't find the story confusing, but I just felt like I was missing something, like it was picking up where last season left off. Children who don't have access to cable TV may feel the same way.

There's a lot going on in this movie.  Doug Funnie (think of a tall, not-so-depressed Charlie Brown) is not only on a quest to find a local myth--the monster of Lucky Duck Lake, but he's anxiously awaiting the opportunity to ask his crush, Patti, to the middle-school Valentine's Day dance. Meanwhile, he's being harrassed by a bully, sneaking around behind his parents' backs, exposing corruption and negotiating the press.Doug and Skeeter and Lucky Duck Lake under the bed

Although the movie admirably depicts Doug wearing a helmet when he rides his bike, it passes up the opportunity to delve deeply into some big issues like pollution, responsibility, and the media. It also passes up the opportunity to develope its characters. What I know about Doug and the other characters, I learned from the TV show. In general, Doug's 1st Movie feels
very episodic and won't teach kids anything they wouldn't learn from watching the show. Therefore, Michele gives the movie a Kid Grade of A. It's exactly what she expected and she was extremely satisfied.

I'm giving it a Mom Grade of C, because I think it's an average (though original) children's movie. I didn't find anything about the movie objectionable, and I'd have no problem letting Michele watch it by herself without parental guidance. She'll probably want to, again and again and again. This is definitely a movie kids can call their own. To be fair though, I should mention that I did get a couple of laughs out of it, and while it glosses over the issues, it does have good intentions. I was just hoping for more.  With a title like Doug's 1st Movie, I expected it to give me a deeper look into Doug's world.

I can't say that I disliked it, though. It didn't annoy me, so that alone sets it above some other kiddie movies I've seen. I like the fact that the fictional town of Bluffington is peopled with folks of all different colors--blue, purple, even green. I like that the animation is refreshingly unique. And I really like Doug himself. He has a kind heart and a sweet personality. The television series is superior in that it has thoughful story lines, treats children with respect, and its juvenile characters actually speak like real young people. In comparison, the movie--its plot, its scope and depth, even its music--is nothing out of the ordinary.

Review © October 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
© Disney Home Entertainment.

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