Part One: A New Beginning (and Some Not-So-New Characters)
(Follow along with me here
, if you’re itching for an eye-stitching good time. Eye-stitches hurt, I’m told.)
The movie opens, as so many do, with the Phoenix Games logo and the Code Monkeys animation bumper. How can music that goofy fill my heart with so much fear?
Then comes the title card, which is also the box cover art, and it’s not that
bad, which is as expected. Mockbuster box art is always good; it’s the plastic bait at the end of the hook that wiggles and shimmers and looks like a fish, but is really just tricks and lies. You think it’s a real movie, and in the end you get filleted and roasted over some angler’s fire and end up subjected to some horrible animation and inept storytelling. I mixed my metaphors a bit there, but you get the point.
The title card is done in an art style you’d find on the cover of a one-dollar colouring book. On it, a lion wearing a crown is kicking a red ball into a net. A monkey (chimp?) dangling from the net catches it, and a hippo falls to the ground. Uproarious! What will those funny animals do next?
I don’t think I need to tell you the lion king (™) looks like the lion king (™) from Bedknobs and Broomsticks
, but I just did so I suppose I should edit this sentence to reflect that but I won’t. Oh Dingo, stealing right out of the gate. You so crazy. Is "crazy awful" a thing, like Crazy Awesome
? It should be.
Once this is done, the movie begins at last! Hooray! As if to prove that Dingo hates its viewers, the first thing that happens, the very first thing we hear
, is a sound design mistake. A music clip quickly fades out and before switching to the music they intended to use. Way to fail, DP. The music turns out to be Dingo Pictures’ signature Jaunty Music, an annoying chipper beat they play when something happy is happening, like a dinosaur’s birth or a dog surviving an explosion.
Next come the visuals. We fade in (of course, DP doesn’t know how to transition any other way) on a dog walking in front of a stone wall.
Long-time readers (all five of you, love you guys) will remember this dog as Sasha, Anastasia’s amazing bomb-surviving pet from “Anastasia.” Ha ha, the rest of you thought I was making up that dog explosion joke above, didn’t you? You were wrong.
DP is so cheap, they constantly reuse characters from other movies (some of them are even their own). If you think this is weird, you clearly haven’t read my other Let’s Watches, which makes me sad but is probably better for your mental health. The gist is this: Get used to recycled characters, because it is something Dingo has a hard-on for.
Also, get used to stilted animation, because that’s not going away either.
Not!Sasha walks, when we suddenly cut to a couple of weasels(?) snickering. First Pointless Animal Shot (PASS) of the movie, and we’re not even five seconds in.
Cut back to Not!Sasha, who is sniffing something on the ground. Cut to a sleeping Simbaaahhh I mean just a sleeping lion cub, obviously not Simba at all totally different character. Cut to a close-up of Not!Sasha.
“-ong time no see,” says Not!Sasha, phoning it in. He couldn’t sound less alive if he were dead; a death rattle at least has some personality.
His friend is worse. The lion cub wakes up with a “Huuuuh?” Like the actor was doing a bad Tim the Tool Man Tailor impression.
“Whad arr you douin todai?” says Not!Sasha’s accent.
“I donn know yed,” says Not!Simba’s accent. Unlike Rasputin’s accent in “Anastasia,” these ones aren’t fake— which means they'll be with us for the entire movie.
At this point, I should probably just tell you to get used to bending over and taking it, because that’s all DP is dishing out.
Seriously, they couldn’t hire English-speaking actors to record this? Not even bad ones? They were so cheap they hired— what are they, Swiss? Dutch? French? German? Whatever, they hired non-English speakers to record their English language dub
They’re going to make me long for the old Female Voice Actor and Male Voice Actor, aren’t they? That’s just sick and wrong. That’s like having herpes and wishing for syphilis.
Anyway, Not!Sasha and Not!Simba have a useless rapid-fire conversation of pleasantries that ends with them deciding to visit friends because Not!Simba “likes visiting friends very much.” Clearly, the script writers don’t speak English well either.
The Jaunty Music cuts back in, and it now becomes clear something is very wrong with the music. On top of the Jaunty Music, there is this weird… jungle beat. Normally, Dingo reserves the DRAMATIC MIDI BONGOS for moments of “drama” and action, but this isn’t action-packed, it’s just them walking. And the drum beat is playing over the Jaunty Music. It throws off the chipper beat and makes it kinda sinister. Who spliced the track to make the music so schizophrenic?
Anyway, back to the movie OH HOLY SHIT oh man suddenly there was this fucking goat baaing for no reason in the most obnoxious voice possible. Why does its head jiggle when it baas? God this is stupid. PASS 2.
Cut to adult Simba and Nala from the Lion King (or, if you’re a fan of DP, “The Lion and the
King”). And cut back to Not!Simba and Not!Sasha walking. I guess that was another Pointless Animal Shot. Two in a row. Wow.
The Not! Brothers have moved on from walking in stilted profile and are now walking face-on to the camera. Still stilted, though. “Who are we goin’ to visit,” says Not!Simba. Not “asks,” that would imply he made it sound like a question.
“Harry. We are going to visit Harry,” says Not!Sasha. “Then we know right away. [sic] If there’s something going on. And then we can. Tell ow friends.” Oof, those awkward pauses would make Female Voice Actress cringe, and she was more robot than man.
“K. Let’s visit Harry.”
And so the two “run” off into… town, I guess? It’s one of those great Dingo Pictures towns, with lots of houses and no people.
“Attention attention,” says Not!Simba’s Voice Actor, pinching his nose. “Did you see it? Of course you didn’t see it! Because you can only hear me.” That’s a… passable joke, but the delivery is so bad I almost didn't really it was supposed to be funny.
The character the dialogue belongs to is clearly Harry, the Not! Brothers’ friend. He’s a stork dressed up like a reporter from Cliché City— he’s wearing a gray trench coat, gray hat, and a portable microphone. Gee, where’s the little tag for his hat that says “Press”? I guess we’ll have to wait for the close-up.
“Okay, listen carefully,” continues Harry with the sinus congestion. “There is an indescribable chaos.” Is he talking about the movie? Because it is kind of a train wreck. “More and more animals are coming this way.” PASS and PASS, including the three vultures on a branch, a DP favourite. For some reason, two vultures are wearing a hat and sunglasses. I… don’t know. “You can hear the sirens. Ambulance. Police. Fire department.” What the hell.
“But Harry. What are you talking about,” says Not!Sasha, tonelessly.
“Ah, uh, yeah,” replies Harry. Riveting, I can see why he entered journalism.
“But where is the ambulance? And the police? And I don’t hear any sirens also,” says Not!Simba, and I feel I should mention because I didn’t before that two adult men should NOT be playing these roles. Not just because they don’t speak English, but because the vocal dissonance is incredibly jarring. A cub should not have a man's voice. And this IS the man's regular speaking voice, you can tell. He's not trying to sound kiddy at all.
“You are right, you can’t hear them, I’m just practicing,” says Harry, “in case something really happens.”
“But what is suh-posed to hepen?” asks Not!Sasha. God, doesn’t he have a name yet?
“Something that even scares the dog,” says Harry.
“SCUSE me?” says Sasha’s voice, a few moments after his body mouths it.
“I wasn’t talking about you.” And then that tangent is over. What a weird and pointless exchange. “Ever since I was a reporter, nothing happens, if nothing happens, I can’t report anything.” Poor Harry. You’ll just have to stir up your own news, like FOX does. Any missing white women in the neighbourhood?
“Hmm, I see, that is hard,” says Not!Simba, suddenly standing on a sponge. I don’t know.
I was going to cut this bit out, but it’s just so weird that I had to include it. Harry says, “For weeks, I’ve been running, from one end, to another. It’s everywhere the same.”
A random donkeys asks, “What’s the same, everywhere?”
“It’s everywhere the same, the same of nothing happened.”
“Yeah, it’s the same also,” says the donkey, who now has an British accent.
A rooster shows up to join in, uh, dadaist conversation? “Yeah! Old songs. It’s no fun to be a singer when there are no parties where I can sing, my old songs.”
A bear selling cotton candy shows up. He’s got a baseball cap on backwards. Just go with it. “Parties?” he asks. “Where? Can I sell my candy somewhere?” And then he shuts up but keeps walking for a few seconds. Awkward.
“There is no party!” says Harry.
“Oh,” says the bear. He’s still walking, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere. I think maybe the animators forgot he didn't have to be moving in this scene.
“This is driving me crazy!” says Harry. Hey, me too! Hmm... I'm developing a theory that Harry the voice of the audience in this movie, and he says exactly what we're thinking. Have to wait for further evidence.
I’d like to point out that it is painful
how obvious it is that everyone’s problems will be solved by that soccer match from the title. It is so obvious, in fact, it’s more like a Simpsons parody, with everyone gathering around complaining about their problems that one solution could fix. I half expect a horse to show up complaining about not being able to scalp tickets. Alas, the writers are clearly not smart enough for that.
(Also, it wouldn't be a horse
Back to the OH SHIT dammit, again
with the obnoxious loud sounds from nowhere. This time it’s a duck in a nurse's uniform. Fine, I buy it. She’s making this horrible fake siren noise. It sounds like she’s impersonating a rusty hinge, but it keeps going and going and going and going and going. Also, the duck looks like she has a floating eye. An eye should not point in that direction naturally.
“I told you there is something happen wait Greta I’m coming,” says Not!Sasha. He must have stepped away from the mike because his voice is really soft. In fact, it goes soft a lot. Maybe the two guys are just sharing one microphone and have to move in to say their lines but don’t want to bump heads.
“Hey! Wait up Cromell!” says Not!Simba, and at last we have a name for Not!Sasha! It’s only been three minutes
in a thirty-minute movie
. No word on not!Simba yet.
Harry believes it’s probably nothing, but follows after the pair. Cromell (the dog) and not!Simba “run” across the Magic Marker background while the weird jungle music plays (I mean, it always plays, but there’s nothing playing over it at this moment. OMINOUS MIDI BONGOS AWAY!).
This running scene takes ten whole seconds; I checked. The padding is palatable. At some points, there is nothing on screen at all. They’ll run on and then run off and the camera will linger for a few seconds on an empty screen. This is so lazy, it hurts. Only Cromell and not!Simba are running, too— Harry isn’t because Dingo was probably too cheap to draw him in profile.
Next scene— Ha ha ha oh my God, this is the stupidest thing I have ever seen in a cartoon. Two black animals (a jaguar and a jackal, maybe?) are standing on their hind legs, swatting their arms, hovering from right to left, while dust clouds flicker around them. This is Dingo Picture’s send up to the classic cartoon fight, the Big Ball of Violence
, where you see nothing but fists and dust. And it looks ridiculous. And the sound effects don’t help. “Grumblrumblegerrumgurhgrr.”
“What? Why can’t you be nice to each other?” says the duck. Oh boy, this voice is a doozy. Not only is the (male!) VA so quiet you can barely hear him, he’s tried to pitch his voice higher to make it sound like a woman. You know how men don’t sound like women? This is an especially bad case.
I guess she gave up the obnoxious fake ambulance sirens, too, which come to think makes me wonder about Harry’s “chaos, with sirens and ambulances and police” bit. If the ambulance is just Greta the Duck making honking noises, is the fire truck Herman the Elephant, and the police Johnny the Alligator? This just gets stupider by the second.
So Greta asks why the dog (not a jackal) and jaguar can’t be nicer to each other, and the black dog says, “That is no fun” in a growly voice.
“Thass wight,” says the jaguar.
“Is it bad,” says Cromell, who has just arrived on scene.
“No. Just the usual scratch and bite holes.” The bite holes
? I, uh, wha?
“Why weh you fighting?” asks not!Simba.
“That’s why,” says the dog. There a red ball on the ground, and his head lowers slightly, so I guess we’re meant to assume the ball is the problem. Series of random cuts. “I found the ball,” says the dog.
“And then he didn’ led me play wid it,” says the jag. He sounds like he has a cold, too. Must have got it from Harry (or Tio’s dad).
“Yeah, that’s right,” says the growly dog, “because you can’t shoot it, you just shoot it everywhere.”
... no, no, I won't.
Anyway, the dog and jaguar fight over who’s better at playing with the ball (um). The dialogue’s inane and I don’t want to transcribe everything. At one point there’s some great voice synching failure, and at another the jaguar’s jaw inexplicably opens up. Like, no sound comes out, he’s just normal and suddenly his jaw expands.
The two black animals are having their little back-and-forth “I’m better no I am” when Cromell says, “Why don’t you owganize a soccergame then you will see, who’s the best.”
Which might be the most blatant show of plot placement ever. Seriously, if you saw two friends fighting over a ball, would your first thought be “We must have a soccer game!”? I mean, you have to gather up a bunch of people, and find a field, and get a ref, and all that hassle. My solution would be rock, paper, scissors. Then a cage match.
But of course everyone thinks this is a great idea (great idea!). The black dog (we’ll call him Growly since I just know
they won’t be giving him a name) announces his team will be called the Wild Dogs.
Says Jaggy the jaguar, master of the non-sequitur, “Heh he ha ha don’t make me laugh, my team’s name is, the Jungle Kings, the kings of the jungle.” Thanks for that, I wouldn’t have figured it out otherwise.
Harry announces that the game will take place between the two teams (stellar fucking journalism), and Jaggy and Growly run off as the Jaunty Music plays under the Jungle Drum Music. We are then treated to everyone discovering that, Hey, this soccer match could benefit ME as well!
“Don’t you also need nurses? At such a game?” says Greta in her man voice.
“Yeah, as far as I know, people always get hurt.”
“That’s great!” Bitch. “I will get my emergence kit, right away.”
PASS stupid hyenas laughing, Jaunty Music spliced with Jungle Drum Music as Greta leaves.
Harry announces he’s off to make posters and advertise the game, except his says it more stupidly. Cromwell and Not!Simba bemoan the fact that they will have to be on different teams. PASS a hopping rabbit. The pair decide they can still be friends and that it’s “just for the game” that they’ll be rivals. Then they split up. The only interesting part of this exchange is that apparently not!Simba’s name is Joe? Or Jove? GOB? Something like that.
AND FADE OUT!
We're five minutes in and it‘s taken me three hours to write this. It's nothing like Bedknobs and Broomsticks
, but that is fine by me, because the less it ruins my childhood, the better. So far it’s boring, but not horrible. I don’t know how bad it will get in the future, but at the very least DP can’t butcher history like they did in “Anastasia
” and “Dinosaur Adventure
.” Once you get over the voice acting and the constant jungle music, it’s… well, it’s bad, but just bad. Not horribly bad.
But will it stay that way? Only time will tell. Tune in tomorrow— different Bat-time, same Bat-thread, as we dive further into: Animal Soccer World!