All that is seen and unseen.
And in the panorama that is the unseen,
Beyond the secret world of the insect,
Beyond the atoms that form the grass they hide behind,
In the infinitesimal pantheon that lurks beneath our feet and beats with hearts anew,
Dorbees: Making Decisions is an obscure 1998 Christian Direct to Video computer animated film created by Benjy Gaither and the Gaither Vocal Band, and produced by Benjy's studio Live Bait Productions. It mainly centers on two loosely-connected stories revolving around the titular "Dorbees": One about two children named Jack and Mary-Jane who ditch school to explore an old abandoned house, and the other about a vaguely Scandinavian immigrant named Otto trying to fit in with "the common folk" by going to a clothing store run by a 70s-obsessed Dorbee named "Dig". A third short revolving around a German superhero duo named "Mr. Poe Und Yogul" appears in-between the two.
Dorbees was intended to become a full series of tongue-in-cheek Christian kids cartoons in a similar vein to VeggieTales, but only one other installment began production before the whole concept was lost to Development Hel-er… Heaven. However, the film's legacy was carried on somewhat by Gaither's Pond, a similar direct-to-video Christian CGI cartoon series that first debuted the previous year and was also a Live Bait production.
Tropees, everywhere I look I see Tropees…
- Acid-Trip Dimension: The Dorbee world is more or less this; the opening narration states that they live in some kind of parallel realm that seemingly exists at the subatomic scale of our own, and as can plainly be seen over the course of the film, it is a World Gone Mad.
- All-CGI Cartoon: One of the earlier, more ambitious examples not to have come from a major studio.
- Ambiguously Related: The last name of every Dorbee whose full name is given is "Dorbee" despite no obvious familial relation.
- Art Shift: Mr. Poe and Yogul employs Cel Shading to give the short a comic book-like appearance.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!:
- All of Flec's appearances last about 30 seconds each, and in each one he changes his train of thought on a very frequent and quick pace.
- Also applies to Delta, as when telling the stories of the kids and Otto, he often recounts unrelated Noodle Incidents that each tale reminds him of (an encounter at the music store where the school now sits and a one-armed drummer, respectively) as the real stories Fade In.
- Bragging Theme Tune: Mr. Poe's segment opens with one.
- Broken Aesop: All three plots we see are about "making the right decisions", but in all of them the message is fundamentally broken in some way:
- Jack and Mary Jane: The "right" decision is supposed to be for them to stay in school, but considering the teacher was giving them factually incorrect lessons (he says the sum of the sides of a triangle is 90 degrees; in reality, the sum of the ''angles'' is ''180'' degrees) and the school's security system flat out tries to kill them as soon as they step out of the classroom (nothing is done to establish that this system could tell the difference between kids intending to leave school and kids leaving the class for a legitimate reason, like to go to the nurse, the bathroom or being checked out), getting out of such a school seems like the much better decision.
- Otto and Dig: The "right" decision is supposed to be for Dig to be honest, which he ultimately does...by telling Otto that he can't possibly make someone as ugly as him look good (despite being in charge of the best clothing shop in town) and that Otto would be better off sticking to Scandinavian clothes rather than trying to integrate into the local fashion.
- Mr. Poe and Yogul: Mr. Poe saves Yogul from Dr. Dairy's death trap by pressing a button to free him, ignoring the other two buttons which are labeled "Push for World Peace" and "Push to End World Hunger". Even if there was a reason why Mr. Poe couldn't press all three, pressing either of the other two could have saved millions of lives, making them better decisions than just freeing Yogul.
- Cephalothorax: All of the Dorbees are spherical heads with small limbs attached and no visible torso or neck.
- Flec, a hillbilly Dorbee who Delta describes as "crazy" for his apparent Motor Mouth and constant incoherent babbling that jumps from subject to subject with zero connection.
- Delta himself may seem normal at first (at least by Dorbee standards), but the joke is that he constantly gets distracted and rambles about stories that have nothing to do with the point he is trying to make.
- Costume-Test Montage: Otto tries on a variety of wacky-looking outfits while at Dig's Digs, shown as a set of photos.
- Decoy Protagonist: The B-plot opens with Otto and he seems to be the focus, but it's Dig who ends up learning the lesson.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- The measures used by the school to try to keep Jack and Mary-Jane from leaving are way excessive, including a variety of traps like a pitfall, turret guns, and a giant boulder.
- The newscaster believes Jack deserves to get injured and stuck in the haunted house just because he skipped school.
- E = MC Hammer: Mr. Oliver's lesson on triangles brings up "MacGyver's theory of gumstick tubing".
- Framing Device: Delta narrates both of the stories to the viewer. However, each segment also ends with an overweight Dorbee on a couch watching them on TV before changing the channel.
- Funny Background Event:
- When Dig is introducing himself to Otto, Dig's assistant Norm can be seen levitating and wildly flipping through the air until he completely phases through the wall, only to re-appear in the next shot. This is never acknowledged.
- During the news report, two of the students from Jack and Mary-Jane's class try photobombing the reporter.
- Funny Foreigner: Otto (Scandinavian), Mr. Poe (German), Yogul (even more German), and Dr. Dairy (French).
- Hammerspace: All Dorbees seem to be capable of pulling various random objects out of their bodies, usually accompanied by a fleshy squishing sound.
- "I Want" Song: "I Wanna Be Grown-Up", about Jack and Mary-Jane's desire to be adults and enjoy the freedoms that come with it.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During the "I Wanna Be Grown-Up" sequence, Mary-Jane at one point jumps up towards the camera. When the camera changes, she can briefly be seen hanging onto a large video camera suspended in midair. Additionally, at the end of the segment, fake artist, album, and label information can be seen at the bottom as though it was a music video for an actual song.
- Mundane Made Awesome: The sequence of Jack and Mary-Jane skipping school is like something from a Spy Fiction movie, complete with them having to escape several traps.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: Mr. Poe. And Yogul. All mentions of Yogul during the song sound like they were just inserted at the last minute.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Otto has a more realistic head shape, while most of the Dorbees just have a mouth, nose, eyes, and hair stuck onto a plain ball.
- Noodle Incident:
- Flec somehow managed to get his overalls and a jaw-harp from the general store for free, and he found something in some navel lint (possibly corn fritters?).
- Delta reminisces over an encounter at the music store that used to be where the school now is, as well as a one-armed drummer, both of which are interrupted by the actual stories fading in.
- No Sympathy: The newscaster, after learning that Jack and Mary-Jane were injured in the haunted house, says they deserved it for skipping school.
- Overly-Long Gag: Mr. Poe pulling various objects out of Hammerspace to try and open the gate.
- Punny Name: The name of Walter Concrete Dorbee, the newscaster for Dorbee Channel 2.3 Live-Action News, is a pun on CBS Evening News anchorman Walter Cronkite and "concrete".
- Religious Edutainment: The film was made in collaboration with the Gaither Vocal Band, a southern gospel group, by the son of one of the members and was marketed alongside other direct-to-video Christian kids' films of the era like Gaither's Pondnote and VeggieTales. However, the film itself mostly averts this, as three very passing mentions of God are about as overtly religious as it gets.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: During the Mr. Poe und Yogul theme song, when the lyrics are shown on screen "strongest" is spelled "srongest." It may be intentional.
- Running Gag: Flec shows up at complete random and goes on a ramble on something he found at the general store for 59 cents, but somehow got for free.
- Self-Deprecation: Even the theme song seems to lament the existence of the Dorbees:Why don't they go away?!
- The opening monologue takes place in space and is set to Also sprach Zarathustra.
- At one point while ditching school Jack and Mary-Jane have to flee from a rolling boulder. And the music that plays during that sequence is a barely-changed version of the Mission: Impossible theme.
- One of the outfits that Otto tries on is a Batman costume.
- Throughout the "Mr. Poe and Yogul" segment, Yogul sings brief snippets of "Put On a Happy Face", "Tomorrow", "Rocky Mountain High", "Surrey with the Fringe on Top", and "U Can't Touch This".
- As if to further drive home what served as inspiration for the short film, the "Mr. Poe and Yogul" segment ends with the narrator stating, "Tune in next time to hear Dr. Dairy say..."
- The first clothes store that Otto goes to is called Dig's Duds.
- A brief still image in the Mr. Poe & Yogul intro shows Poe facing off against several monsters. Two of these are stock 3D models of Dracula and Frankenstein styled after the Universal Monsters versions.
- Space Whale Aesop: If you skip school, a high-tech security system will attempt to murder you on the spot with floor traps, turrets, and Indiana Jones style boulders the second you step out of the classroom.
- Stylistic Suck: "Mr. Poe and Yogul" is an in-universe cheesy German TV show with low production values.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Jack and Mary Jane are more impressed by a floating "astro-ball" than finding Elvis or Jimmy Hoffa in the old mansion.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: The teacher says that the sum of all sides of a triangle is 90 degrees. In actuality, the angles of a polygon are measured in degrees, and in a triangle, the angles add up to 180 degrees.