"Doogal" is the laziest, most disheartening kind of animated film for kids: one that seems interested in entertaining them only on the most fundamental level (through colorful talking animals and flatulence jokes) while frantically cramming in as many pop-culture references as possible to preoccupy their parents.
With its smugly self-referential manner, distractingly disproportionate characters and celebrity vocal cast that deserves better, "Doogal" could very easily be mistaken for "Hoodwinked," the Little Red Riding Hood rip-off that also came from the Weinstein Co. this year. (There's even a cutesy little dig at Disney, from which Miramax founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein splashily defected in 2005. Truly, at this point, who cares?)
The movie is about a little girl (Kylie Minogue), her dog (Daniel Tay) and their buddies — Ermintrude the cow (Whoopi Goldberg), Brian the snail (William H. Macy) and Dylan the rabbit (Jimmy Fallon) — living in an idyllic hamlet that appears to be devoid of adults.
There's a good wizard named Zebedee (Ian McKellen) and an evil wizard named Zeebad (Jon Stewart), who wants to freeze the world with the help of three magical diamonds.
Complicated enough, right? But wait. The minor army of directors and screenwriters messes things up further with a mind-boggling array of entertainment in-jokes. In one scene, the characters barely even have conversations with each other, they're so busy firing off references to "The Shining," "The Matrix," "The Karate Kid" and MC Hammer.
It's telling that the biggest laughs from the kiddie crowd at a recent matinee — the movie wasn't shown to critics before opening day, shockingly — were prompted by a gassy moose voiced by filmmaker Kevin Smith, who's perhaps best known for his character Silent Bob. "Doogal" isn't silent, but it sure is deadly.
MPAA rating: G
Running time: 80 minutes, which includes a short film before the movie, "Gopher Broke."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times