Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Fairly Decent Movie: I'm As Surprised As You Are, Timmy Turner!

I love Drake Bell. I think he’s adorable, and a super talented actor and musician, and basically an all-around cool human being. (And I saw him in concert a few weeks ago. I should probably write that up.) Which is why I’m so frustrated with his post-Drake and Josh acting choices, because he seems really committed to cheerfully making terrible movies no one wants to see. (I’m also frustrated with Josh, but that’s less because of his acting choices and more because he’s a pothead.)

I successfully avoided College and Superhero Movie, but I did make Becky TiVO the live-action Fairly Odd-Parents movie last week, mostly out of morbid curiosity. I didn’t watch the show much, which was somewhat after my youthful Nick-watching days and before my weird grownup Nick-watching days, but I was familiar enough with it to be horrified by Drake’s decision to slum it. Regardless, I figured the movie would be terrible and thus good for a lulzy blogpost.

Unfortunately, there are no lulz for you, because – shockingly! – the movie wasn’t terrible.

Oh, it was incoherent. The basic premise is that Timmy, knowing that he’ll lose his beloved fairy godparents (and godbrother) when he grows up, refuses to leave the fifth grade or his parents’ house, and thus even though he’s 23, he’s still basically a kid. But when Tootie, a dorky girl who had a crush on him when they were kids, returns to town all hottified, he starts to consider the benefits of leaving childhood behind. Meanwhile, basically everyone else in the world wants him to give up the fairies.

This means that there are anywhere from three to five antagonists: A mean ol’ businessman who wants to pave over Dimmsdale Park teams up with Timmy’s teacher to steal Timmy’s fairies. Meanwhile, Jorgen Von Strangle tries to force Timmy to fall in love in order to make him grow up. Also Vicky, Timmy’s old babysitter, is in the movie but with basically nothing to do. And Tootie/love itself is its own conflict.

So everything happens really fast, there’s not enough time given to any characters or relationships to make the payoffs work, and I was honestly kind of lost. Plus the vague attempts to make the movie cartoony didn’t really work. And there’s a brief scene where Cosmo and Wanda turn into humans, because apparently Jason Alexander and Cheryl Hines had nothing better to do with their time (the creepy-looking CGI characters are voiced by their regular actors for the bulk of the movie). And no one seemed particularly skeptical of or surprised by the fairies.

And yet the movie…kind of works? And that’s 80% because of Drake, who, bless his soul, totally goes for it and makes you believe that he’s this earnest, fun-loving little manchild. (It helps that Drake Bell is one of the Fair Folk, and boyishly adorable.) Timmy is a delight all the way through, and while I don’t think this movie was necessarily the right choice for Drake, Drake was clearly the right choice for this movie.

Another 15% of the credit goes to Daniella Monet, who also totally throws herself into the role of Tootie. (Actually, no one phones it in in this, which is more than you can say for the typical DCOM. Also, the production values are much better.) I still can’t sit through an episode of Victorious, but the supporting ladies of the cast are growing on me. And 5% of the credit goes to Timmy’s random little kid friends, who get all the best lines, and one of whom is wearing a Jughead hat for no particular reason.

There were some gross gender-related issues in the movie, mostly involving Timmy’s friends AJ and Chester refusing to help him save his godparents and Tootie unless he magically coerced some hot girls into dating him, and the awful dynamics of Cosmo and Wanda’s marriage (she nags him! he insults her! hilarious!). But for the most part, the movie, while not good by any stretch of the imagination, wasn’t really bad either. And for a live action made-for-TV special based on a cartoon, what more can you ask?

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