Weird concept but fails to do much with it; OK for young children though
When his ship sinks off the South Pole, Bill Barnacle and his crew are starving when they discover some sort of magic pudding called Albert that can talk, change flavour on request, lasts forever and demands that they continue to eat him. The crew are divided over the pudding but two of them resolve to protect and look after it. Sometime later, far from this, small koala Bunyip Bluegum discovers that he is not an orphan and sets out to find them. Their paths cross on the road when Bunyip stumbles into the middle of an attempt by thieves to steal the everlasting pudding from Bill and his first mate Sam.
When I go to the US I always take the opportunity to watch the Cartoon Network late at night because it turns into adult swim and features some weird animations, one of which involves a team of fast food superheroes of a floating milkshake, a packet of fries and a rolling meatball; this is just one example and from the description you know it will not be a simple affair. And so it was with the Magic Pudding. I knew it was a kids film but having read the plot summary I wondered what this would be like because it sounded like the ramblings of a man on drugs. Certainly I did wonder who had been smoking what and where I could buy some when I watched the film's revelations that the pudding was present at Jesus's birth, was the cause of the mutiny on the Bounty and helped build the pyramids before going down on the Titanic and being frozen in ice (albeit half a world away from where Bill, Sam and Buncle find him). At times the novelty value of the ideas makes this entertaining but mostly it fails to translate this into the film as a whole and the film could easily settle in with any American cartoon with weird characters and celebrity voices. The songs are pretty uninspiring and I would have preferred the film without many of them and something more imaginative in their place.
It is still OK even if it is nothing special and it will keep young children distracting. There is the occasional amusing moment for adults but more could have been made of the unusual characters and story to serve both markets. The voices help. Cleese is quite good but I felt his character was a bit too abrasive and one-note. Weaving and Neill are OK in the leads while Rush is quietly understated as Bunyip. Despite the quality of the names, none of them really have much to work with even if they are OK for what it is. The support cast are OK but nobody really stands out mainly because this is not a film that seems able to stand out.
Overall the idea sounds like a weirdly imaginative kids movie that intrigued me. However aside from the pudding the film does little with it other than churn out a typically manic and heart warming adventure without too much in the way of originality in the writing. Distracting for children but nothing that special; hard not to see it as a missed opportunity though.
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