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The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure

2012 | 88 min | G | 1.85:1

The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure


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Theatrical release date

 29 August, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

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The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, August 31, 2012

“The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure” is the brainchild of Kenn Viselman, a marketing wizard behind “The Teletubbies” and “Thomas the Tank Engine” who decided to strike out on his own, overseeing a family film geared toward the short attention spans of pre-schoolers. Billed as “interactive,” “Big Balloon Adventure” encourages young viewers to twist and shout in front of on-screen characters, getting into the spirit of this lackluster musical blasted with puppetry and nuclear colors. Although it’s meant to tickle toddlers, “Big Balloon Adventure” isn’t worth punishing multiplex pricing, delivering small-scale thrills on a limited budget. It’s definitely a rental, offering parents a chance to escape while wee ones bop around for 85 minutes.

Goobie (Misty Miller), Zoozie (Stephanie Renz), and Toofie (Malerie Grady) are the Oogieloves, a trio of siblings(?) who live in Loveville along with their pal Windy Window (Maya Stange) and vacuum guardian(?) J. Edgar (Nick Drago). When five magical mylar balloons are lost before infant pillow Schluufy’s birthday party, the Oogieloves set out to retrieve the goods, boarding bikes on a mission to save the celebration. With Windy’s help, the gang is guided all over town to snatch the balloons back, greeting friendly locals such as treehouse resident Dottie Rounder (Cloris Leachman), milkshake tycoon Milky Marvin (Chazz Palminteri), singer Rosalie Rosebud (Toni Braxton), bouncy cowboy Bobby Wobbly (Cary Elwes), and flamenco devotees Lola and Lero Sombrero (Jaime Pressly and Christopher Lloyd), who share help and songs with a group. Armed with Goobie’s scientific understanding, Zoozie’s skill with languages, and Toofie’s physical strength, the Oogieloves discover the balloon hunt doesn’t always go as planned, with time running out before Schluffy awakens.

The Oogieloves look like minor league baseball mascots and share the mentality of the average eight year-old. They have a band and share a living space with a living vacuum and a talking window, while caring for a pillow that’s not old enough to speak yet. Clearly patterned off “The Teletubbies,” the Oogieloves are a knock-off brand of toddler entertainment, using a similar formula of incessant repetition and broad physical movement to reach out to the younger set. What “Big Balloon Adventure” aims to do is encourage audience participation, using visual cues to help kids understand when they’re needed (butterflies for stand up, turtles for sit down) for chants and dancing. Lyrics and magical deeds are also printed onscreen to assist in the experience.

Of course, when I sat down to watch the “Big Balloon Adventure,” I was the only person in the movie theater, making the Oogielove directives awkward. The concept demands a theater full of bustling kids, but played to an audience of one, and the garishness of it all begins to grate in a hurry. It’s difficult to fault director Matthew Diamond, who dutifully establishes an overemphatic world of balloon trauma and colorful Loveville citizens. What’s missing here is a sense of peace, with the production fearing any pause in the action might immediately lose the kiddies, urging Goobie (who hates belts, leading to multiple moments where his pants fall down to his ankles), Zoozie, and Toofie (who uses the term “scientastically” on more than one occasion) to hustle around town as quickly as possible, jumping into musical numbers and mischief with a surprisingly robust pace.

Unfortunately, “Big Balloon Adventure” was made on the cheap side, with visible seams and immobile mouths on the stars of the show (these are most definitely not Jim Henson creations), Full Sail freshman visual effects, and little production mistakes Diamond was too distracted to notice. It looks like a television pilot that lucked into a theatrical release, with the inherent simplicity of the movie wearying, though I fully admit I’m not in the target demographic. However, a sense of education is missing, with the songs devoted to events like the ordering of milkshakes, flying around inside a giant sombrero, climbing ladders, and wobbling. “Sesame Street” caters to the same audience, and look at all the good they’ve done. “Big Balloon Adventure” is empty calories for a pushover audience, employing puns and basic motor functions to stimulate young minds that would be perfectly happy watching a screensaver. Actual cinematic and instructive effort is in limited supply, but something tells me this failed experiment in interactive moviegoing isn’t going to spawn a sequel.

Starring: Cloris Leachman, Jaime Pressly, Christopher Lloyd, Cary Elwes
Director: Matthew Diamond

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