"THE OOGIELOVES IN THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE — ★ — Toni Braxton, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Lloyd, Chazz Palminteri, Cary Elwes and Jaime Pressly; G (nothing offensive); in general release
It can be hard to keep up with pop culture. One Direction — is that a band? That new redheaded Disney starlet — what's her name? It's a peril of modernity that no matter how much a person wants to stay tuned in, there's just no way to keep up.
So when something such as "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure" rolls around, it is understandable to start wondering: Was this a big hit in Denmark or a sensation in Australia? Did I miss something? Should I know this?
The answer, in every way imaginable, is no. "The Oogieloves" are not an already-beloved set of characters, but a prefab construction meant to appear like a beloved set of characters.
Kenn Viselman, described in publicity materials as "the marketing visionary" of "Teletubbies" and "Thomas the Tank Engine," has overseen writer Scott Stabile and director Matthew Diamond in presenting three brightly colored, oversize felty young friends along with a talking pillow, fish, window and vacuum cleaner.
While it's tempting to call the plan cynical, the results are so ineffectual and disengaging that it may be better to call it just plain dumb.
Goobie, Zoozie and Toofie get Schluufy some magic balloons for his birthday. When the balloons get away from them, they set off on an adventure around Lovelyloveville to get them back, aided by Ruffy, Windy and J. Edgar (yes, he's the vacuum).
No more can be said of the story. Chazz Palminteri, Jaime Pressly, Cary Elwes, Christopher Lloyd and Cloris Leachman appear in brief roles, all looking slightly confused and vaguely embarrassed.
The film, which has a curious 2009 copyright date, should have just stayed on whatever shelf it had been sitting on. Viselman describes it as "the world's first interactive movie" for the way it cues audiences to get up to dance and sing.
At a recent press screening, the youngsters in attendance lost steam at a steady clip, stopping with the standing and the sitting in favor of simply running up and down the aisles.
For the sake of the children, "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure" should be allowed to quietly float away.
"The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure" is rated G; running time: 83 minutes.