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The Adventures Of Rocky and Bullwinkle  

The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle tries to break its boundaries, but never succeeds in transcending its genre. The classic television show that spawned it, of course, became a classic by winking at its adult viewers.

In the process, it became something more than quick, televised, animated shorts ostensibly aimed at children. The television show could succeed rather easily in violating its fourth wall because the walls were so very constricting in the first place.

Now swap the tube for the towering images of the movies, and multiply the TV budget by about a googol or so. In casting off its limitations, "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" makes it much tougher for the writers, actors, animators and directors to transcend their genre. And they don’t.

Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
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Keith Scott does do an admirable job of voicing Bullwinkle J. Moose and the Narrator. You don’t get any of those awkward post-Mel Blanc moments where something about Bug Bunny’s voice makes you lift an eyebrow suspiciously.

Unfortunately, the closest thing to those moments occurs with the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel, June Foray, the original Rocky. Perhaps the sound editors are to blame, but frankly the 80-year-old sounds a little tired.

The flesh-and-blood cast is a stellar one – though not necessarily replete with stellar performances. If you love movies, you’ll hate having seen Robert DeNiro as Fearless Leader in this one. Rene Russo and Jason Alexander are nice analogues for Natasha Fatale and Boris Badenov, but seldom anything more. Piper Perabo has what feels like the lead, a role that should have been written out of the movie entirely.

The cameos are, again, nice but nothing more. Their most powerful impact is to remind us that future generations will curse us for failing to have a camera rolling on Jonathan Winters 24 hours a day.

As stale as the puns (and their accompanying to-camera quips) are, the plot, no surprise, does nothing to rescue this movie. What is perhaps most sad is that a few moments peak through that hint at what a stronger movie would have been like. A wasted subplot about Rocky’s trouble flying could have had tremendous impact, but it – and its resolution – are thrown away with little thought.

Perhaps the movie is a victim of the show’s cult success. Rocky and Bullwinkle, along with pop-culture step-siblings such as Mad magazine, were seminal subversive influences for a generation of Hollywood creators. Everything that Rocky and Bullwinkle did on television has already been done by now on television and in the movies.

"The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" had to break new ground, but found itself trapped on the path of its moose-shaped footprints.

Jonathan Larsen

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