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The Fairly Oddparents
Abra-Catastrophe!
The Movie

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 73 minutes

 

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $19.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Cosmo and Wanda, "Wish Come True" Storyboard, Photo Gallery, Behind The Scenes, Previews

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Stereo, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (6 Scenes)

Released: July 15th, 2003

 

 

It was actually announced a little while back that "The Fairly Oddparents," an animated program on cable's Nickelodeon, was the second most popular program on the channel. It was only at this point many people whet "Huh!? What's that?" Like so many other Nickelodeon cartoons before it, "The Fairly Oddparents" is a show that gets heavy rotation on the network - so much so that kids watch it obsessively and talk about it and know about it, but their own parents are oblivious to what it is until it gets in the news, word spreads and a load of merchandise hits which they then buy up for their children.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it's about an average tween boy named Timmy Turner who has crazy parents and an evil babysitter who tortures him. However, Timmy has two fairy godparents named Cosmo and Wanda who can grant him wishes (though there are a few exceptions to what he can wish for). So of course, Timmy wishes and his whole world goes crazy because of it and he usually has to fix his problems (with help from the godparents, of course).

In my opinion, "The Fairly Oddparents" is yet another attempt by Nickelodeon to achieve the same kind of creative and financial success with their competitor, Cartoon Network. For those familiar with the type of original programming Cartoon Network shows, they're far from traditional and are pretty inventive, as some of their original cartoons uses a 1960s-esque animation technique with bold color schemes but looks a bit flat overall, making it a bit stylized. That's how "The Fairly Oddparents" looks (I personally enjoy this technique). On top of that, the show was actually spun-off from a show called "Oh Yeah! Cartoons" where three different shorts were shown each week (how do I KNOW this!?). I suppose "The Fairly Oddparents" was pretty popular to warrant its own show. And I'm sure a lot of you know that Cartoon Network had their own show which did the same thing: three different shorts a week, and many shows were spun-off from it. Though I suppose Nick stole from the best, as the creator of this show, Butch Hartman, was also a key force on the Cartoon Network show "Johnny Bravo."

But enough about that. The plot of this movie, which might I add was made directly for television (and subsequently put on video/DVD), goes as follows: it's Timmy Turner's "Fairy-Versary," which means he's had fairy godparents for a whole year without blowing his secret that he's had them (a rare feat apparently because most kids can't keep their mouths shut). Timmy gets a special gift for this special day: a pink muffin which will grant him a rule-free wish. But of course, the muffin falls into the wrong hands: a worker gets mouthwash, a monkey gets it and makes the world like "Planet Of The Apes" and then Timmy's evil teacher, Mr. Crocker, a man who's always wanted magic fairies, inherits the muffin and wreaks more havoc (oh yeah, he also kidnaps Wanda). Can the world be saved, or will it be forever doomed by a pathetic shrimp puff-loving child-man?

The movie plays out like a really long episode of the television show... which for most of you is a good thing. Personally, I found this movie to be a bit stretched out - even for 73 minutes. It's just pretty random and some of it seems pointless, almost as if it's filler or to get in a little joke or two, but I guess the show is like that usually anyway. Still, you're probably watching this movie for light entertainment and not for a perfect, Disney-esque epic story. The jokes in "Abra-Catastrophe!" are amusing in that obvious/cheesy kinda way, especially the ones that will directly go over the heads of kids (like Wanda's line about the movie parodies). Still, the humor mainly comes out of being purely ridiculous and slapstick moments. Kids seem to really like that and are sure to enjoy it here.

The voice acting is great in the movie, as it has been on the show, and the animation style isn't "spruced up" (well, except for some obvious computer imaging). Still, like I said, I'm a fan of the animation style and it looks great. Fans of the show will probably enjoy that the origins of the godparents are included, and may even learn something (cartoons can teach people? *GASP!*). The movie does make some valid points kids can relate to, such as parents being liars to protect their own kids and about being more responsible with the power you're given.

But what is it about "The Fairly Oddparents" that kids find so appealing? I guess it's the simple fact that it's about an ordinary boy who gets the opportunity to do great things, and has to fix his mistakes because wishing doesn't always get you everything you want. Of course, kids probably respond to the characters: the "we-mean-well-but-we-have-no-clue-about-anything" parents, the mean babysitter, the evil teacher, the ordinary boy and the comic relief stylings of Cosmo and Wanda (who also provide guidance). Maybe this show has some kind of archetype... nonetheless, I know there are plenty of older fans of this show out there, so if you like the show or know younger ones who do, then it's probably worth checking out this movie (especially if you missed it on TV). It's in line with the show offers too (except here it's about 5 times the size), so if you're curious, this may be a good place to start.

 

This made-for-television movie is presented just the way you'd expect: it's in 1.33:1 full screen. Once again, Paramount delivers a top notch transfer for their animated programming. This sure is one vibrant transfer that is bound to please anyone who watches it, even if I'm sure it'll be mainly kids watching this DVD and I doubt they'll really care at all. There are a variety of color schemes used within this telemovie, and this transfer faithfully reproduces them. The colors are incredibly crisp and really stand out. The image has depth and detail is great. The only downside to this transfer is that the contrast can be a bit too high, but otherwise it's pretty fantastic.

 

The only audio track here is in English and its in stereo, and it does sound pretty good. Fidelity is really high and the dynamics of the stereo track are fine, but they're pretty limited. Nonetheless, everything comes through on this track and I suppose that's what counts the most. The dialogue is clear and easy to hear, the musical score adds some nice touches to the background when used and the sound effects, while not full-fledged surrounds, often use some nice directional effects to add a little punch (such as the throwing of the muffins). It's not terribly brilliant, but it works well enough. Also included are English closed captions.

 

Surprisingly, this DVD is pretty packed and I bet fans of the show will dig what's here. While it's probably not going to teach you anything serious about the production of this movie and is definitely aimed for a younger crowd, I have to say that the Audio Commentary with Cosmo and Wanda is pretty funny. I always wonder about these "fake" audio commentaries... are they improvised on the spot or are they scripted? Nonetheless, kids are sure to watch this movie more than once and will probably want to hear what their favorite godparents have to say throughout. Of course the godparents are wacky and have a lot of crazy banter and comment about quite a lot of things - be it scene specific or not. They explain what an audio commentary is (kinda), talk about certain things in the movie, narrate on-screen action (ugh) and of course, make or imply a lot of kid-friendly jokes which, like on the show, are ridiculous and obvious. It's funny and amusing for what it is, and definitely one of the better "in-character" commentaries I've heard, but I think it'll only appeal to young ones and die-hard fans of the show.

"Wish Come True" Storyboard is a two minute and eleven second story reel (storyboards played together) of the musical number in the movie, Photo Gallery has some stills from the movie and there are some Previews for "SpongeBob SquarePants," "The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron," "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" and the videogame "Tak and the Power of the JuJu."

Finally, Behind The Scenes is broken into three sections: "Fairly Oddparents Statue" (1:19) focuses on a statue outside Nick's studios featuring characters from the show. Writer Steve Marmel and creator of the show, Butch Hartman, check it out (it has nothing really to do with the movie or show). "Background Design" (1:48) is more relevant as Butch Hartman, design supervisor George Goodchild, art director Bob Boyle discuss background designs for the movie and what it actually means as far as what they do. They show off rough stills and storyboards from the movie. Finally, "Making Faces" (1:02) focuses on storyboard artist Shawn Murray and what he does as far as crafting character expressions. In all, these really don't add up to much.

The DVD also has six chapter stops... all of which end at the approriate commercial breaks (which makes sense since this was show on TV - so expect some longer-than-usual chapter stops).

 

I'm sure fans of the "Fairly Oddparents" show will enjoy this movie and will probably want to own it. The stereo track is adaquette, the transfer is quite good and there are a few supplements here to be enjoyed. The list price is quite reasonable too, so if you enjoy the antics of Cosmo and Wanda, then you shouldn't have any qualms about purchasing this for yourself or for the kiddies.