Rated G - Running time: 1:13 - Released 3/26/99

Guest Review By Mary S. McEwen

In the continuing onslaught of Nickelodeon cartoon characters breaking onto the big screen, Doug’s 1st Movie is okay for an afternoon out with the kiddies. If you like Doug in 15-minute segments, you’ll probably like him all right for 77 minutes. If not, you might be a little confused by Doug’s world, and a tad bored.

Directed by Maurice Joyce and produced by Disney, Doug’s 1st Movie has a basic theme: Boy is crazy about girl, girl is at least enamored by boy, boy has to either compromise his relationship with girl or end up hurting an innocent individual, boy does right thing and eventually, after some tribulation, wins out.

The girl is, of course, helium-voiced Patti Mayonnaise (Constance Shulman), the love of Doug Funnie’s teenaged life all through the series. She likes him, too, but both are too awkward to just admit it and start holding hands on a regular basis. The movie opens with Doug (Thomas McHugh) and his friend Skeeter (Fred Newman) biking in the forest in an attempt to find an alleged monster in the lake. They are being stalked by Rog (Chris Phillips), a rich bully whose apparent goal in life is to provoke Doug and any horse he might be riding on. Rog and his band of geeky friends are poised to scare everyone, but they are quickly found out. As Skeeter chides the bullies, though, a shadow looms over him and everyone takes to the hills, screaming — but only after Skeeter's camera has flashed once.

Cut back to Beebe High School: The Valentine’s Day dance is imminent, but no one has volunteered to organize and decorate for the event. A lightbulb shines over Doug’s head as he concocts yet another way to be close to his true love: They will both sign up to handle the dance. All is well until an upper classman horns in on the arrangement, erasing Doug from the volunteer list and putting his own moniker there so that Patti and he, Guy Graham (Guy Hadley), are the lone decorators. Guy is also a reporter for the school newspaper. The horror. Doug is crushed, of course, but feels he has an out if he and Skeeter have actually found a lake monster. Surely Patti will love him if he becomes famous.

Now the story gets a little complicated. Skeeter and Doug do find a monster — sort of an E.T.-type being whom they name Herman Melville. Herman (Frank Welker) wins the boys' hearts, so Doug is faced with a difficult decision. Should he blab about Herman's whereabouts (and thus endanger the friendly monster's life), or keep it to himself, not even telling Patti, who is suspicious and leaning more toward the attentions of Guy?

Suffice it to say, things get wrapped up all right, after some mucking about. The drawings and action of the film are supremely simple, and the story line meanders. As I stated, little ones will most likely be confused. But it’s not all bad. For instance, the message of the flick, repeated by several characters, is: "Always do the right thing." Awww. And, frankly, anyone who knows the cartoon will surely not be expecting Gone with the Wind or even Toy Story. Nah, this is along the lines of the now fashionable cartoon-to-movie productions (which I frankly hope will be ending soon), and it holds its own in that lame little genre. **½

Copyright 1999 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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