Tooncrap #13 - Doug's 1st Movie
And thank god it's his last.
Written by: Raymond Gallant
One of the cartoons I'm often asked to review is the
Disney version of Doug. And to be fair, there's a lot to cover involving
just why the move from Nickelodeon to Disney came at a price. But before
I get too ahead of myself, let's talk about what Doug is for those, like
maybe 4 people who read this who weren't 90's kids.
Doug was the creation of animator Jim Jinkins, who first introduced the
world to Doug as a character featured in several commercials, including
a bumper for the USA network. In 1991, as Nickelodeon was becoming more
high on original content for their network, Jinkins and his company, the
then Jumbo Pictures, worked on giving Doug his own cartoon show to be
one of the three original Nicktoons, alongside Ren and Stimpy, and
The story focused around a 12-year old boy named Doug Funnie, who moves
to a town called Bluffington, with his family and his dog Porkchop. He
meets several colorful (literally) characters, including his best friend
Skeeter Valentine, an annoyance who makes these really annoying honking
Honk honk one more time, I swear I'll snap that nose off!
There was also local bully Roger Klotz, who served as the show's main
And owner of perhaps the world's most douchiest haircut.
There was Mr. Dink, Doug's neighbor, who would usually buy useless tools
and inventions due to literally being a D.I.N.K (Double Income, No
And finally, because I'm not going talk about every damn character and
side-plot in the friggin' Doug universe, there was Patti Mayonnaise, the
love interest of Doug, and a character of indeterminate sexuality. Those
who remember that meme know what I'm getting at.
The main gimmick of the show sees Doug going on misadventures, usually
overly imagining things, and then writing in his journal. That's really
kind of it for the most part. But it worked, as Doug managed to last
from 1991 up until 1994 with a total of 4 seasons and 52 episodes. So,
it looked like the sun set with a decent show, right?
Well, unfortunately no, as the mouse would come knocking, and after
Disney's acquisition of ABC, they wanted to bulk up their new "One
Saturday Morning" block with some brand spanking new shows. And one of
them would end up being Doug... Or, as it was called at the time "Brand
Spanking New Doug". And of course, it had to REALLY be brand spanking
As in they changed a lot of the town of Bluffington and the characters
within. Roger Klotz can't be a poor bully, he has to suddenly be rich.
Characters like Connie can't be overweight, or the least bit chunky.
Let's get thin as a rake. Who can relate to Honker Burger? Let's have
Chez Honque. And of course the ultimate act of show stupidity...
Cleopatra Dirtbike Funnie. No, seriously. Cleopatra Dirtbike Funnie? You
hold a contest for a new baby name and THAT'S the winner?
So despite the show actually making it to 65 episodes over Nick's 52,
and even getting a movie (We're getting to it), Disney's Doug has been
considered by many fans as the worst iteration of the series. But to be
fair, I can see why. Disney's whitewashing really hurts this series, and
leads it into some really idiotic territory. I mean, how dare we expose
kids to the idea of poverty? How dare we have kids be exposed to someone
who isn't skinny? How dare we expose our children to Billy West?
But, like I said, the show lasted to 65 episodes, and Disney was feeling
good about the show. So good that they actually gave it their own
theatrical film. Which is pretty ballsy to do considering they were in a
real big Direct-To-Video kick. But considering the success of Rugrats
the Movie, everyone wanted a piece of the "cartoon to the big screen".
And while some were good, like Hey Arnold! The Movie, and Teacher's Pet,
most are pretty forgettable, especially the film du jour , which Disney
even had the gall to call the "First movie". Like they were banking on
this to be a film franchise of Tolkien-esque levels.
So, let's see why this first ultimately was the last. Let's review this
We open the film at Lucky Duck Lake, as Roger and his cronies are
fishing in the middle of February, awaiting the arrival of Doug and
Skeeter, who are still trying to get proof of the mythical lake monster.
However, despite the duo's monster hunting, Doug is more concerned with
the upcoming Valentine's Day dance.
Roger and his lackeys want to freak the honk honk out of Skeeter, but
get caught by Doug. But since Doug is a wuss, and can be easily
defeated, they strip him down to his underwear, instead of, you know,
just beating him up or something. However, when they do try to scare
Skeeter, something actually does rise out of the lake, and advances on
Skeeter, thankfully killing him off five minutes into the film......
But enough about disembowelment and lake monsters, because THE
VALENTINE'S DAY DANCE IS COMING UP! And every kid in school seems to be
going ape over it. Not just the girls, but the guys as well, making this
feel like it's almost some second coming of Jesus. But for Doug Funnie,
it means that after all the seasons of waiting, he can finally nut up
and ask Patti to dance with him.
And opportunity knocks for Doug as he learns that despite this being the
biggest dance of the millennium and beyond, nobody signed up to actually
plan the dance. Doug imagines that this will be a perfect way to spend
time with Patti.
As in literally imagining it through some strange war-time strategy
session dream. This reminds me a lot of shows like Bobby's World that
focused a lot of the show's more entertaining sections through the
imagination of the protagonist. And to be fair, most of the time, Doug
did it pretty well. Though I do wonder how his imagination actually
works, because these go way too long without people wondering if he's
gone in some loony trance.
Or in this case getting a little too imaginative.
But before Doug and Patti can sign up, they get interrupted by a guy
named... well... Guy. An upperclassman head of the school paper, who
looks like he just walked out of the "Stock rich antagonist" auditions
for this film. Patti signs, and Doug follows suit. However, it turns out
that sign-up sheets don't matter a damn, as Guy just announces he and
Patti have signed up, throwing away the sign-up sheet.
You'd say that's not fair, but since he's friends with often douchey
rich girl Bebe Bluff and her father, it truly exemplifies the age old
saying, "Screw the rules, I have money".
But Doug's Patti woes are put on hold as Skeeter actually has proof of a
monster in the lake. But mainly just a picture of the monster's foot.
And this just leads us into an imagination skit with Doug's superhero
alter ego Quailman, complete with a rather monotone narrator. He and
Porkchop are the heroes, while Guy is of course the villainous "Lord of
the Polka", who has Patti under his spell. But there's also a giant
monster attack that Quailman and Quaildog have to stop. You'd think this
would be a really cool battle, but it's kinda stock, and nothing really
exciting happens. And it's the longest imagination bit in the film too.
It seriously just feels like padding mayonnaise.
While all that's happening, Roger is lamenting over the idea that the
monster they saw at the lake may actually be on Skeeter's side, but he
eventually comes up with an idea to fight back and continue his bullying
ways. So to put a stop to the monster, he hires the brainiest kids in
the school to create him a giant robot named Robocrusher. The entire bit
has the nerds sneezing and coughing insults towards Roger, and I guess
it's supposed to be funny, but like a lot of the humor in this film, it
Doug is now more focused to catch the monster since it means he'll be
better than Guy, but their bikes end up nabbed by the monster. If things
aren't worse for ol' Mr. Douglas Yancy, Patti calls him to say that
working with Guy was a great idea since he was able to get the dance at
Funkytown. Though they could only get one member of Lipps Inc, and one
member of Pseudo Echo for the dance. Doug ends up distracted as Patti
mentions meeting him in an hour.
Turns out the monster didn't eat the bikes, and decided to shack at
Skeeter's house. They eventually track it in his room, and it's at least
clever enough not to use the old under bed and closet routine. After
Skeeter is scared of it, it turns out the monster is actually a pretty
nice creature, who is well versed in eating reading material. Also it
apparently likes the name Herman Melville. I can't think of a better
tribute for the author, to have his name latched to a crappy kids movie.
Then again, at least it's not Cleopatra Dirtbike Herman Melville.
Doug and Skeeter are, as expected, quite elated over Herman, and hope to
use him to be famous. So they go to Mayor Tippi.
But we can't just get to the meat of the monster matter, we need some
Hijinks with Bud Dink and the newest piece of crap he bought. Looks like
Mr. Dink was on the whole virtual reality wave, and has the boys gear up
too. And it turns out it's just a virtual simulation of just being in
Mr. Dink's living room. Boy, leave it to Mr. Dink to make the Oculus
Rift sound boring.
Doug and Skeeter show Herman to the Dinks, and Tippi realizes that maybe
alerting the media about a giant monster from a polluted lake isn't such
a good idea. She says its' for Herman's safety, but let's be honest.
Who's the mayor whose career is on the line should she be the one in
office when news about how there were no efforts to clean a polluted
lake, and the creatures that spawned from the radiation and chemicals
within. And how I'm assuming that the money she makes is mostly being
spent by her bumbling husband for toys and machinery he barely ever
Not to mention that since Bluff co. owns the paper, and it's boss Bill
Bluff is the one polluting the lake, they will kill the story, and
Herman as well. So they have to keep Herman hidden until Tippi can make
a press conference the next day. So, Bud comes up with an idea to keep
him nice and inconspicuous.
Yeah, no one will suspect a thing.
And I guess no one does as Doug's mother suspects that it's Doug's
sister Judy rehearsing for a play. Despite the build, and the FRIGGIN
WEBBED FLIPPERS being a big giveaway that it might not be. Oh, and the
fact that Judy eventually does come home, proving that everyone involved
in this whole scheme is a friggin' idiot.
And to compound Doug's idiocy, he of course completely forgot to meet
Patti. And despite his best Ferris Bueller shortcuttery, he still ends
up late, muddy, and with ripped pants. But, as expected, Guy showed up
and took a reasonably upset Patti. Doug eventually goes to Funkytown to
try to explain his actions. Doug, like an idiot, mentions that Mr.
Bluff's been polluting the lake, despite realizing that Guy Graham is
working with Patti, and as it's been established in the film already, he
is friends with Mr. Bluff. It also doesn't help that Doug kept the
picture of Herman with him, which just so happens to fall out of his
jacket, and into the hands of Guy.
Dear Journal, Doug is kind of a moron.
A new day dawns , a the press conference is set for the night. Doug, of
course, wants to make sure Patti comes. Oh, and is also at the press
conference. Of course, Patti suggests bringing Guy, which Doug has no
problems with. You know, to add to the list of screw ups he's already
committed. And it of course blows up in his face as Guy tells Mr. Bluff
As Tippi gives the press conference to a bunch of obviously fake
reporters, Skeeter feels it would be better to just take Herman back.
But Doug, more focused on Patti, would rather prove to the world that
Herman is real, than bring him back. Tippi decides to let Skeeter tell
the story, which he does... I think. He does a bunch of stupid sound
Michael Winslow you ain't!
Patti and Guy arrive, and we get some exposition that Guy has to write
the story a week in advance before they can even print it out. Pay
attention to that line, as it's going to make Doug look like an even
bigger idiot. After Doug's elation, he soon realizes that hey, maybe all
these reporters in trench coats may be phonies when the interview isn't
airing on TV, and he's right for once. Doug tries to hide the truth,
Patti thinks he's a phony, and things continue to suck for ol' Doug.
Oh right, I almost forgot about the B plot to this film. Back to Roger
and the nerds as Robocrusher is revealed. Roger is none too happy that
the robot isn't gigantic, and the nerds from like out of nowhere whip
out a shrink ray and shrink Roger. Which makes you wonder why the hell a
bunch of scientifically gifted teenagers with the ability to not only
create a robot but a fully functional shrink ray are wasting their time
with some rich jerk. Unless they're mooching off him for their own
Oh, and they sure aren't done screwing with him since it acts less like
a device of destruction, and more like Rosie the Robot without the
lovable sass, and with a Julia Child voice that you know the kids are
going to get immediately.
Back to Doug, as it turns out that just maybe making a big hoopla about
Herman initially may have come back to bite him in the butt as he's
constantly being spied on. So, to protect Herman, Doug goes to the
oldest cliché in the book.
Dress Herman up as a human girl to trick people. And the sad thing is,
despite the fact that he looks like a frigging sea creature in drag,
everyone falls for it, believing "Hermione" is just some exchange
student. You know, those exchange students with their blue skin, scales,
and amphibian faces. Even Patti, who I swear has more logic to put 2 and
2 together than this, believes that Doug is ditching her for Hermione.
The idiot ball in this film is bouncing and hitting the ceiling now.
Doug and Skeeter finally realize that Herman's not safe in Bluffington
anymore, and has to go back to the lake. They say this out loud of
course, despite it being well established already that Mr. Bluff has
people in disguise trying to get Herman. And even if Doug didn't realize
it (which makes sense considering how stupid he's been so far), you'd
hope he would considering the fact that we just went through that whole
press conference bit.
And guess what frigging happens.
With Herman now captured by Mr. Bluff, and more proof that the lake is
horribly polluted, the boys try the most brilliant plan yet... tell the
cops on Mr. Bluff. And, as expected, it doesn't work. So, the next
logical step for Doug is to talk to Guy. You know, the SAME GUY WHO IS
FRIENDS WITH MR. BLUFF AND HAS DONE NOTHING IN THIS FILM BUT MAKE YOU
LOOK BAD AND COCK BLOCK YOU IN FRONT OF PATTI?
But instead, Doug and Skeeter end up in the newspaper office in the
school, and sees an article for next week's paper that Herman is dead.
Doug is sad that Herman is dead, despite not putting two and two
together yet that it's next week's paper. It literally takes him like
I'm guessing an hour or two to finally clue in that HEY DUMBASS, THE
ARTICLE IS FOR NEXT WEEK'S NEWSPAPER! Eventually they read the damn
article saying that Herman was destroyed when he rampaged in the
They could go to Mayor Tippi for help. You know if Mr. Bluff didn't send
her out of town. So, Mayor Tippi was so concerned about Herman's well
being, and knows flat out that Mr. Bluff is polluting the lake, but
willingly accepts some business he has for her in Bloatsberg? WHY?
Unless she got wickedly paid off, there would be no reason for her to
accept his business.
So for once in this whole movie Doug decides to use logic to hope to
save Herman for the dance. But they can't take Herman to Lucky Duck
Lake. However, conveniently they can take Herman to the Crystal Lake,
*sigh* Doug's a dumbass.
The Valentine's dance finally arrives, and everyone shows up. Even Roger
and his motherly robot. Not to mention a bunch of snipers. And oh right,
Doug's plan screwed up again, not taking into account the fact that
maybe, oh just maybe, Bluff co. got all this set up before the dance?
Realizing Herman is in the giant heart, Doug and Skeeter try to escape
with him, while distracting the snipers with Robocrusher. The snipers
open fire on Robocrusher, in a hail of blasts so devastating, it feels
like a kid friendly version of Peter Weller being blown to bits in
Robocop. Seriously, you feel bad for the poor robot as it just gets
I mean, holy crap.
The duo get Herman to the new lake, as they get cornered. He escapes
into the lake, much to the angered chagrin of Mr. Bluff. He swears
revenge, until Bebe cracks the whip. Not to mention Mayor Dink actually
doing something about the whole pollution thing. And since we need to
wrap things up, Doug finally comes clean to Patti, as she finally sees
It's time to finally say goodbye to Herman. Skeeter gives him his copy
of Moby Dick, because, you know, that will last in water. Guy gets
what's coming to him by Patti, Herman exits to his new watery home, and
Roger is still being chased by...
And Doug gets some his sweet, sweet Mayonnaise. And the film finally
Doug's First Movie is far from the worst movie I've ever seen, but it's
also a pretty bland film. Nothing really interesting, creative, or funny
happens throughout. Hell, the best stuff happens with the B plot with
Roger and Robocrusher, but you barely get enough time with it. Instead,
it's play idiot ball with Doug Funnie for 75 minutes as he pines for a
girl while constantly lacking logic in protecting something.
In the end, it's much like a fair representative of Disney's Doug. It
feels like a drastic dip in quality from the Nickelodeon version,
feeling like a franchise that should have ended long ago. But for all
the changes, it's still far from the most offensive cartoon ever, and
even for as much of a dud this film is, it's still an okay film to show
kids. But all the same, there are more fun movies that use similar
tropes and clichés that this really feels boring and dumb in comparison.
So, this is still crap, but far from the most harmful.