By Joseph McAleer
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — Small children will get quite a workout at "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure" (Kenn Viselman Presents), an interactive film which periodically prompts young ones to jump up, dance, twirl, wiggle, blow kisses or sing along.
Directed by newcomer Matthew Diamond, "Oogieloves" is the vision of producer Kenn Viselman, creator of the successful children’s television series "Teletubbies." This big-screen offering also uses full-bodied puppets to entertain and impart lessons, such as the importance of eating breakfast every morning, working as a team, and loving your friends and neighbors.
Three members of the Oogielove family live in the candy-colored town of Lovelyloveville: Linguist Zoozie (voice of Stephanie Renz) represents the distaff side; like Doctor Dolittle, Zoozie can speak "animal." The boys are Goobie (voice of Misty Miller) and Toofie (voice of Malerie Grady). Goobie is smart and likes science, while Toofie is a way-cool athlete.
Toofie does not like to wear a belt, which causes his trousers to fall down (often), providing the movie’s principal comic relief.
The gang is planning a surprise birthday party for their pal Schluufy (voice of Taras Los), a cuddly talking pillow. Another friend, J. Edgar (voice of Nick Drago), is bringing the presents: five golden balloons with magical powers. (J. Edgar is only tangentially named for the former head of the FBI — he’s a talking Hoover vacuum cleaner.)
When a gust of air carries the balloons away, the Oogieloves must put their heads together and retrieve them before the party starts. Coming to their aid is Windy Window (voice of Maya Stange), a distant cousin of the Magic Mirror in "Snow White," and Ruffy (voice of Randy Carfagno), a goldfish confined to his bowl.
Ruffy has an eye for the ladies, telling his admirers, "I’m a good catch."
As the Oogieloves travel on their bicycles all over Lovelyloveville, they encounter human characters, each of whom has found a golden balloon.
These include Dottie Rounder (Cloris Leachman), an old woman who lives, not in a shoe but in a teapot; Rosalie Rosebud (Toni Braxton), who likes to fly (and belt out a tune); Marvin (Chazz Palminteri), who owns a diner and makes a mean milkshake; Bobby Wobbly (Cary Elwes), a trucker who likes to blow bubbles; and Lola and Lero Sombrero (Jaime Pressly and Christopher Lloyd), flamenco dancers whose heritage allows Zoozie to show off her proficiency in Spanish.
Needless to say, "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure" is harmless and wholesome fun, suitable for the very youngest of moviegoers.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences. All ages admitted.
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McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.