Flashback Review: The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle (Universal’s Flops Vol. 1 #4)

In The Early 1960’s, cartoonist Jay Ward aired Rocky & Bullwinkle as the first animated series to air on primetime prior to The Flintstones. The show basically focuses on a squirrel named Rocky, who has the ability to fly, his sidekick is Bullwinkle, a buffoonish moose. They both partake in a variety show satirizing The Cold War containing Fourth Wall Humor, Puns, as well as their adversaries Boris & Natasha, a pair of dim-witted spies, hired by Fearless Leader to assassinate the duo, but they usually fail. Besides Moose & Squirrel, other segments focus on Dudley-Do-Right who’s a parody of silent movie heroes and last but not least, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, a pair of time travelers led by Peabody The Dog who takes his “adoptive son” Sherman on historical adventures while encountering significant figures.

Rocky & Bullwinkle was cancelled in 1964. The show went on to influence future cartoonists including Matt Groening, (The Simpsons, Futurama) Pendleton Ward, (Adventure Time) to create their own influential cartoons. If it weren’t for Rocky & Bullwinkle, The Simpsons, Futurama & Adventure Time would’ve never existed in the first place!
Cut To Three Decades Later, When major Hollywood studios begin to produce live action films based on beloved cartoons ranging from The Flintstones, Mr. Magoo, Dudley-Do-Right & Inspector Gadget. What do most of them have in common? Each film is a critical flop among critics and fans alike. One in particular was produced by Robert De Niro and his production company, TriBeCa Productions made a film called, “The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle.”

The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle was released in 2000. (same year The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas came out) It received negative reviews from critics and bombed at the box office. Other critics however, liked it including Roger Ebert.

I’ve decided to look back at this movie, in response to an upcoming live action animated called, “Detective Pikachu” with Ryan Reynolds voicing the title character based on one of Nintendo’s beloved mascots of all time. Who knows if this is gonna do justice than other failed film adaptations based on beloved cartoon characters.

The following review contains crucial SPOILERS. If you never seen this film, read at your own risk.

Smart And Dumb

Smart: The late June Foray reprises her role as Rocky The Flying Squirrel and Keith Scott voiced Bullwinkle & The Narrator. They both did a solid job for their performances.

Robert De Niro, Rene Russo & Jason Alexander all did a good job for portraying the villains. To be honest, they look spot on and perhaps born to play Moose & Squirrel’s long time adversaries.

The film at first, felt appropriate to begin in 2-D animation retaining the look from the cartoon.

Fearless Leader did a jab on Christopher Lloyd’s villainous scheme from Who Frame Roger Rabbit. 

Fearless Leader’s television network, Really Bad Television (RBTV for short) predicted god awful shows including Teen Titans Go, TMZ, 16 & Pregnant, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, HBO’s Girls, Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s, Kid Sitcoms by Nickoloaden/Disney Channel. Is the film similar to The Precogs from Minority Report, predicting what’s terribly gonna happen in the future? If I were attending a test screening with any show l’ve listed, it would be similar to the infamous screening scene from A Clockwork Orange. 

Robert De Niro referenced his infamous mirror scene from Taxi Driver. I bet his pal Martin Scorsese was laughing butt off. Robert would also reference his other movie The Godfather Part II in Little Fockers.

Many celebrities including Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Janeane Garofalo, Whoopi Goldberg, Carl Reiner, David Alan Grier & Jonathan Winters make cameo appearances. I guess some of them were fans who grew up watching the cartoon.

A Visual Gag made me chuckle, is when Bullwinkle fights Fearless Leader. Robert De Niro played Jack LeMotta known by his stage name, “Raging Bull.” Get it? Bullwinkle is a bull with rage as he attacks De Niro by repeatedly hitting him, you know like the scene when De Niro persuaded Joe Pesci to hit him many times. I need to create a bingo gamer drinking game involving the works of Martin Scorsese!

The Duo “Break The Fourth Wall” a couple times.

Dumb: Piper Perabo’s performance was too bubbly and goofy at the same time. She belongs in a Disney Channel sitcom. As a Christopher Nolan fan, karma finally bit Piper in the butt when she co-starred in The Prestige in which her character gets the boot.

Our non-animated world in this film is incredibly ludicrous. A Swedish prison guard is an incompetent simpleton, college students are racist towards cartoon characters, random visual puns appear outta nowhere, etc. Disney’s Enchanted worked on two different worlds. One with a traditional animated world belonging to an animated Disney film, while our non-animated world reflects actual real life. Enchanted’s basic premise was effective to use Amy Adams’ character Giselle, who’s obviously a personification of a Disney princess caught in a fish-out-of-water-scenario using Disney tropes that’ll never work in real life and she must learn to adapt. Rocky & Bullwinkle failed to differentiate two different worlds. Nobody acts like a simpleton or racist towards a cartoon character in real life, NOBODY!

The Movie contains a truckload of puns, as if it belongs as rejected jokes from Batman & Robin or anything produced by Dan Schneider. For example, Piper Perabo’s character is named, Karen Sympathy. Seriously? Who names their kid with a name like that Kanye West & Kim Kardashian? You know they named their daughter North West right?!

Fearless Leader’s grand master plan is a rip-off Riddler’s grand master plan from Batman Forever involving a person a television set against his/her will. DC Comics & Warner Bros. you better get yourself a lawyer.

Karen claimed she grew up watching the duo. Why would a college aged person from 1999 know who Rocky & Bullwinkle are even if she wasn’t around or born in The 60’s? I think the film wasted an opportunity to portray Karen as a baby boomer, not a millennial who belongs in the hashtag world. It would’ve made sense to see a flashback of her admiring the duo with a bunch of merchandise in her room.

The movie unintentionally made Rocky too depressing. In the cartoon, he’s portrayed as an adventurous Mighty Mouse parody on a high dosage of happy pills. EGADS! Rocky is a precursor to Henry Cavill’s emo portrayal as Superman in Man Of Steel!

A major Plot Hole with Rocky who refuses to fly until The Third Act. He’s even stupid as Bullwinkle for Big Pete’s Sake! I’m Doubling Down this con, because Rocky is unsympathetic and it broke my Suspension Of Disbelief.

Annoying cartoon Sound Effects are used frequently. 

Judge Whoopi Goldberg drops charges on Rocky & Bullwinkle by saying any celebrity is above the law. Who’s idea was that, Johnnie Cochran?! He’s known for successfully helping O.J. Simpson getting away with murder. Ms. Goldberg would you care to explain other celebs who use to be or currently in bars such as Mel Gibson, Pee Wee Herman, Hugh Grant, Charlie Sheen, Martha Stewart, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Jared Fogle, Nick Nolte, Gary Glitter, Bill Cosby, Justin Bieber & Willie Nelson! I’m giving Whoopi an Extra Point Down for acting like a doofus as she is on The View!

Ollie, the Swedish prison guard is a complete goofball who lacks common sense.

Kel Mitchell turned to Kenan Thompson and said that they’re show isn’t gonna get cancelled. Sadly, Kenan & Kel went off the air, Kenan is currently an SNL Cast member but Kel is working as a manager at Wendy’s. The equivalent of Will Smith moving on to earn massive acclaim as a high-profile A-List actor, while his pal, DJ Jazzy Jeff never earned the same success as Will.

An editor removed Bullwinkle saying “WHAZ UP!” Come guys it was pretty funny. Coincidentally, Scary Movie came out using the phrase.

A Blue Screen Effect aged horribly. I can tell it’s fake when you see Rocky carrying Karen while flying in the air.

Product Placement featuring certain brands such as Best Buy, Nokia, America Online, Travelodge, Petsmart & Milky Way. I’ll give this flaw a pass, due to a scene with Bullwinkle literally surfing the web, was kinda awesome. It reminded me of The Fairly Odd Parents episode, “Internet Stupor Highway.”

Karen gets into an early romance with Ollie The Swedish Simpleton. They barely knew each other and lacked chemistry.

The Final Verdict: F, FOR FAKER!

The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle is a miscalculation considered as one of the worst films based on a cartoon next to The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas, The Smurfs, Alvin & The Chipmunks and Transformers sequels. Robert De Niro painfully admitted that he produced and co-starred the film for the money. Don’t waste your time one this movie. If you want to watch a movie filled with Fourth Wall Breaking, watch The Mask, Deadpool, Spaceballs & Blazzing Saddles.

Or is you want to watch a proper Jay Ward related adaptation, to watch George Of The Jungle or Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

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