The Magic Pudding (2000) Poster

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Oh dear.....
aplord13 December 2002
You know a film is in trouble when a character in children's classic written early last century utters a line like " It'll destroy the very fabric of the universe!" That line - or something like it, gets a workout towards the end of this crude updating of the Australian Classic.

Of course, you won't have to wait until near the end to realise that this film is in trouble. The first few minutes will be all it takes.

Assemble a fine cast, spend millions and adapt the Australian Children's book that's in the same league as the "Wizard of Oz", "Wind in the Willows" or "Alice in Wonderland". A recipe for success you would think.

Instead this is a disaster.

Why? Because the makers simply didn't trust the strength of their material. Norman Lindsay wrote the book to prove that kids like hearing stories about food. It was a bet. Someone else had offered the opinion that what children wanted to hear about was "fairies and elves "."Nonsense," said Lindsay and wrote the Magic Pudding to prove it.

The Magic Pudding is loud, fast, broad, satirical and the book they invented the word "rambunctious" for.

The film is mild, meandering and with a moral about friendship and not being greedy. It comes with extra characters to give it cuteness, extra plot to give it relevance and extra gags "for the kids".

Sad sad sad. Read the book. Read the book aloud. Read it aloud to kids. Don't bother seeing this movie.
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On its own merits, a moderately enjoyable pre-teen animation. As a realisation of a unique classic, a huge disappointment.
pwla31 May 2006
Accepting the hazards inherent in any attempt to realise a well-known and loved book in audio/visual form, "Disneyising" this plot is still a mistake. One of the great joys of the book, especially for (older) adults, is its distinctive Australianism, its evocation of the period of Banjo Patterson's "Saltbush Bill", and this is paid lip-service only. The watered-down accents, presumably to make the movie more "internationally acceptable", are a letdown as well. I would have expected to have recognised Jack Thompson's voice instantly. Even the potentially inspired casting of John Cleese as Albert, the Puddin', falls short. Albert and Basil Fawlty have a good deal in common, and one listens largely in vain for any sign of this. Viewed in isolation, on its own merits, a moderately enjoyable pre-teen animation. As a film realisation of a unique, and distinctively Australian, classic, a huge disappointment.
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All the right ingredients, but they didn't follow the recipe
barry-287 January 2001
This movie had all the right ingredients for a great children's film. Good actors well cast, a story that is a classic of Australian children's writing, and animation that brought the illustrations of the book faithfully and charmingly to life. Unfortunately, the film makers did not follow Norman Lindsay's story but made up one of their own, using characters and incidents from the original.

The new story doesn't work as well as it might have done, at least to me. Instead of a comic trio of pudding owners zealously protecting their property against a pair of incompetent (but often successful) thieves, we have them embarking on a quest for some lost parents and a struggle against the forces of nature and of tyranny. The seriousness of the new plot quite smothers the light hearted charm of the original.

That said, the movie is quite watchable, and my three children (ages 10, 7 and 3) all enjoyed it. I can't help wishing, though, that they'd followed the recipe.
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Weird concept but fails to do much with it; OK for young children though
bob the moo28 May 2006
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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No Magic In This Pile of Pudding
simonc-310 January 2001
I really had high hopes for this film. Twelve million dollar budget, digitalanimation, star-packed cast (John Cleese, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Toni Collette, Jack Thompson), fond memories of the Norman Lindsay story and the promise that it was going to mark a new direction in Australian mainstream animation.

Well, five minutes in and I was ready to leave. Most of the audience (packed to capacity with kids and adults) looked fidgety and bored. It's hard to remember a film that fails so comprehensively.

Looking forward to state-of-the art digital animation? Well you will have to be content with shoddy eighties-style Yoram Gross animation with a few digital lens flares. Yes, washed out watercolour backgrounds and sub-Disney style characters with bad inbetweening are back! Oh yes, and atrocious lip-syncing. At several points, Bill Barnacle's mouth doesn't even move when he talks!

Want a good story? Well this confusingly paced film had most of the kids restless and scratching their heads as they tried to figure out what was going on. For adults and fans of the Lindsay original, it manages to tick-off the original in plot points and scenes without any of the warmth or character of the original. It also introduces new elements such as Bluegum's lost parents that please no one. It reminded me of the old Rankin Bass "animated classics"; exciting stories leeched of their quirkyness and originality through a pedestrian TV-style telling.

Great voice acting and dialogue? Well if you can get past John Laws as Bumpus, the voice acting is okay. The dialogue however is awful. Poor old John Cleese is left to seemingly improvise old Fawlty Towers/Monty Python material while Geoffrey Rush utters some insipid stuff as Bunyip Bluegum. And yes, I know it's a kids movie!

Top musical numbers? Well the musical numbers pop up at unexpected moments but are mercifully brief. Most of them are passable eighties fare with the exception of one sickly-sweet Celine Dion power ballad by Bluegum's mum. In a week, I will have forgotten how they sounded.

The rest? Well did I mention the Saturday morning cartoon gags complete with musical "stings" or the TV-style direction (no swooping digital camera techniques here). Think of the The Silver Brumby and you'd be close..

This is not a clever movie. This is a dumb TV cartoon writ large. It shows no love for Lindsay nor any understanding of what a modern kids movie should be.
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Hmm... and the purpose of the film was...? WHAT?
MKZaa10 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
And so you see the time is ripe/ To send this twaddle up the pipe/ It had to go/ It had to be/ And very soon you're going to see...

Hopefully a better version of the beloved masterpiece. One comment, what faithfulness did the film show to the book? I'm waiting! Seriously, I found this nonsense disgraceful, loud, noisy and unacceptable as a rendition of a classic piece of Australian literature.

Honestly, how could anyone like it? The best part? THE CAST, NOT THE FILM, JUST THE ACTORS PROVIDING THE VOICES!

In fact, my rating doesn't even appear on the register - I give it 0.01 - WOEFUL!
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No taste in this meaningless Pudding
snowyguineapig18 January 2002
I watched the first half hour of this thing on Showtime this morning before I switched off the TV. The best bits were the water colour backgrounds. Story was s***e. No direction. Lots of meaningless action. All wasted and futile. The people that made this need to go back and Learn the craft of Storytelling. Moral: Don't try and upgrade a classic.

Funniest bit: John Laws trying to act. Hilarious!
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What was that silly cartoon about??
etsicetaitvrai30 March 2005
As a French viewer with no knowledge about the original story, I would say this cartoon is like a UFO for a French audience. Both kids and parents were yawning after half an hour. As the movie was dubbed in French, the Australian accents were totally missed. The story upon which the movie is based is unknown to French viewers, so the movie just does not click. The baddie scared my nearly 4-year old, and I did not like the graphics very much. The various sequences in the movie just don't flow, you go from one character to another in what seemed totally random to me. I don't get the psychology of the cake either, but then I guess this won't prevent me from sleeping... I would be curious to read the original book, though. Anyway, I would not be paid to go see it again.
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Average as an animated film, disappointing as an adaptation of the wonderful story
TheLittleSongbird17 September 2009
This did have the potential to be really, really good. But as an adaptation of the wonderful story by Norman Lindsey, it does fall short, and the result is a rather disappointing animated film. My main problem was the story. A lot was left out from the original story, and replaced with some very slow and pointless scenes and contrived sub plotting. The songs were unnecessary and rather uninspiring, none of them are memorable in any way, and the lip syching, especially with the character of Bill Barnacle, was very distracting. Not to mention the script, that was quite poor even for a kids movie, it just lacked a sense of fun, despite the valiant attempts of livening it up. However there are a number of good points, namely the terrific voice cast, that includes John Cleese(a bit loud at times but fine overall), Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill and an unrecognisable Jack Thompson. Another was that I personally thought the animation was pretty good, with the lovely Australian backgrounds, and the characters are at least likable. All in all, watchable but disappointing. It had the potential to be wonderful, but due to elements that didn't work, it is a hit-or-miss really. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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