Following the success of The Rugrats Movie, Disney has been quick to follow suit. Doug’s 1st Movie takes the TV cartoon staple, Doug, and plops him where he doesn’t quite belong: on the movie screen. The result is mildly entertaining (though purely for kids), but possesses no real draw to see it at the theater.
Doug Funnie (Thomas McHugh) is your average everyday kid. His time is divided between pining for his love, Patti Mayonaise (Constance Shulman), and helping his pal, Skeeter Valentine (Fred Newman), hunt for the legendary Monster of Lucky Duck lake.
His adventures truly begin when he discovers that the monster is real! Not only that, but the monster is friendly (in an E.T. sort of way), and moves in with Doug. Of course, this complicates Doug’s plans to help Patti organize the Valentine’s Day dance.
The plot fluctuates between the realistic (Doug’s infatuation with Patti, and his rivalry with a suave 8th-grader, Guy (Guy Hadley)) and the bizarre (the Monster, a killer robot, and a magical shrinking ray). But, then again, when the average student at Doug’s middle school might be blue, purple or green, who’s to say what’s normal?
The film tries to tackle the issue of pollution, but never truly grasps the issue. Apparently, town mogul Mr. Bluff (Doug Preis) has been dumping toxic waste into Lucky Duck Lake. This has not only spawned the friendly monster, but made the lake into a terrible pool of acid not seen since the likes of Dante’s Peak. Now, however, the monster decides that the Lake is to toxic for him to call home (though, shouldn’t our atmosphere be toxic to a monster born to pollution). Meanwhile, the evil Mr. Bluff wants to kill the monster for two widely different reasons: to keep people from knowing about the monster, and to let people know about the monster (so he can be the hero who saves the town). It gives you a headache if you try and make sense of it all.
Kids who enjoy Doug on TV will continue to find him likeable on the big screen. However, there’s very little reason for him to be there. In all honesty, this feels more like a direct-to-video cartoon rather than a piece of quality feature animation. There’s little here to entertain adults, and kids aren’t likely to care whether Doug Funnie is 40 feet tall on a movie screen, or 27″ on TV.
If you’re desperate for a kid film to see at the theater, this one will certainly do in a pinch. But, on the whole, you’re better off waiting for the video.