Leslie Neilsen plays the title character. Everyone always has fond memories of Mr. Neilsen, but when you think of it, it's been almost a decade since Neilsen's been in anything funny, and there's no exception here. He captures Magoo's baldness, squint and barking laugh, but little else.
For those of you unfamiliar with the cartoon, the joke is as follows: Mr. Magoo is nearsighted, and constantly mistakes objects for other objects (usually treating harmful objects as harmless ones)...however, he always miraculously comes through safe and unaware.
The plot of the movie, such as it is, goes as follows. Two bumbling jewel theives (Kelly Lynch and Nick Chinlund) steal a priceless ruby, but their treasure accidentally falls into the possession of Mr. Magoo. So the blissfully unaware Magoo is being hunted not only by the bumblinb thieves but by two bumbling government agents (Stephen Tobolowsky and Ernie Hudson), who believe Magoo is the actual thief.
Somehow the action proceeds from a local harbor, to a ski lodge, to the jungles of South America. But througout it all, one thing remains constant: the lack of any genuine laughs.
The film has the misfortune to be bookended (in the opening and closing credits) by the actual Mr. Magoo cartoon. While hardly a laugh riot, it just shows how far off the mark the film goes.
Not as numerous as in Flubber, but just as annoying, are several Disney product placements (from 101 Dalmatians to Euro-Disney). Typically, I'm not opposed to actual products appearing in films...it actually adds to the realism. Look around you...how many generic items do you see? However, aside from casual placement, when the film goes out of its way to promote a product at the expense of entertainment, it is very irritating. Such is the case here.
Cartoon adaptations are difficult to do correctly, but they can be done. Just take a look at George of the Jungle as a recent example. However, more often than not they fail. Take a look at the countless bad TV series-to-movie adaptations, and remember that the TV shows have a lot more material to start out with.
The only real laugh in the movie comes at the very end, when Disney has plastered a large politically correct disclaimer on the film. The blind and those with poor vision don't need an apology...they should be thankful that they don't have to watch garbage like this.
[PG - mild language and action sequences] (Disney)