Dudley Do-Right (1999)

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This really is a dud of a film.

Dudley Do-Right is a 1999 American comedy film, based on Alex Anderson’s segment of the same name on Jay Ward’s The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The film was produced by Davis Entertainment for Universal Studios, and stars Brendan Fraser as the cartoon's title character with supporting roles from Sarah Jessica Parker, Alfred Molina, and Eric Idle.

Plot

The story begins with three children and a horse who are young versions of Dudley Do-Right, Nell Fenwick, Snidely Whiplash, and Horse. The three talk of their aspirations; Dudley believes he is destined to be a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer (Mountie) while Nell wishes to see the world. Snidely, however, wishes to be the "bad guy" and travel around the world.

Several years later, all three have fulfilled their supposed destinies. Dudley is now a Mountie (but always sticks to the rules and is frequently oblivious to even the most obvious of things), and Snidely has become an infamous bank robber. After Snidely and his gang rob a bank of its money and gold, Snidely tricks his entire gang into believing he has fled with all the gold to the Sudan and going on a wild goose chase after him. Snidely subsequently salts the stolen gold and spreads it in the lakes. Dudley catches him the act, but Snidely fools him into thinking he is vampire hunting, and uses a similar tactic to scare Horse off. Not long after, Nell returns from her world tour and reunites with Dudley. The two attend a festival at the nearby Kumquat tribe.

Meanwhile, Prospector Kim J. Darling (Eric Idle), the poorest man in Semi-Happy Valley, stumbles across the gold in the river and is made into a media sensation by Snidely. The subsequent gold rush boosts Snidely's popularity and, after foreclosing many local mortgages, he quickly takes control of the town, renaming it "Whiplash City". Eventually, Snidely's men return from the Sudan to kill him for his deceit, but Snidely convinces them otherwise by offering them lives of luxury in his new town. Dudley becomes convinced that Snidely is up to something and confronts him, but Snidely laughs him off and snatches Nell from him. Snidely sends his second in command, Homer (Jack Kehler), to assassinate Dudley with a bomb, but Dudley is absent when the bomb goes off. Nell's father Inspector Fenwick (Robert Prosky), who is in good favor with Snidely, discovers Dudley's feud with Snidely and discharges Dudley from the Mounties. Dudley falls into a depression and wanders across the town until he runs into a drunken Darling, who offers him shelter at his underground cave in the woods. Darling tells Dudley of Snidely's plans and newfound popularity and takes him to see a Gala Ball in Snidely's honor. Despite Darling's warning not to challenge Snidely due to his loss of favor, Dudley comically attempts to take Nell back from Snidely, but loses pathetically.

Feeling sympathy for Dudley, Darling decides to put him through a very harsh training regimen to make him a more formidable opponent and take back Semi-Valley from Snidely. Dudley's first act is to intimidate one of Snidely's men into telling him the next gold shipment. Dudley sabotages the shipment and leaves his mark on Snidely's workshop as well as his favorite golf course. Snidely, unaware that Dudley lost his job, is offended by this and more so with his men's incompetence to stop him, believing Dudley is enjoying the perks of being the villain. Eventually, Darling leaves to find his family and parts ways with Dudley thanking him for his friendship. Dudley then uses his new training to win Nell back from Snidely, who swears revenge. At a nighttime town meeting, Snidely attempts to rally the people against Dudley, but it falls on deaf ears. The populace have grown weary of Snidely and shows more respect for Dudley in his efforts to retake their town. Snidely ultimately discovers that Dudley and Nell are at another festival with the Kumquat tribe and leads a full-scale attack on them. The Kumquats flee for their lives until Horse reappears and helps Dudley sabotage Snidely's tanks by making Snidely and Homer accidentally shoot each other. A cavalry of Mounties appears and arrests Snidely and his men. Darling also arrives with his wife, the Prime Minister of Canada (Jessica Schreier) and is reunited with Dudley, revealing that they called out the cavalry. Inspector Fenwick reinstates Dudley in the Mounties.

The final scene shows Dudley and Nell living together in Dudley's rebuilt house. They share a kiss as the film ends.

Bad Qualities

  1. The idea of Dudley Do-Right Being a movie is ridiculous, as the original cartoon segments were just one note segments.
  2. Poor acting with Brendan Fraser being cast as the titular character being the worst example.
  3. Certain jokes aren't amusing and some of them are inappropriate. Luckily, the inappropriate jokes aren't malicious like some other adaptations of beloved characters (eg. the jokes in The Cat in the Hat, which was also released by Universal and had TONS of malicious jokes. But, that's another story.)
  4. Plot holes (e.g. Homer trying to blow up Dudley's office.)
  5. Some scenes are pretty dark for a kid's movie. Such as Dudley Do-Right shooting a gun at Snidely Whiplash's henchmen. Do-Right doesn't kill people!
  6. There's a printing error on the back of the VHS and DVD cover stating that Roger Ebert called the film "Fun!" when he really didn't care for the film. However, the statement on the VHS and DVD cover that Janet Maslin of The New York Times stated that the film was "Zany Entertainment!" is true.
  7. When Snidley and Homer accidentally shoot at their tanks, they both survive the tank blast. In real life, they would die in a severe blast like that.
  8. The supporting mounties from the actual show aren't mentioned or seen.
  9. Laughable dialogue (e.g. when Kim starts off with reason number 2 in order to defeat Snidley.)
  10. Nell never got captured by Snidely like in the cartoon
  11. many running gags keep repeating, killing the joke

Good Qualities

  1. Few connections to the source material (including the opening cartoon sequence and the original theme).
  2. Brendan Fraser looked like he was having a good time playing in this film, probably just as much fun as he had playing in George of the Jungle two years earlier in 1997 or even a lot more fun.
  3. Dudley and Nell have beautiful chemistry.
  4. Some of the supporting characters are pretty good (eg. the Native Americans who helped Dudley defeat Snidley).
  5. The ending is heartwarming and the song "Do Right By Me" is a good song to use at the end of the film.
  6. The kids who played the younger versions of Dudley, Nell and Snidley did a good job playing our characters.
  7. The final confrontation between Dudley and Snidley was pretty good.
  8. It was interesting seeing Brendan Fraser play another live-action version of a TV character that has been loved by many people for years.
  9. Alfred Molina does a pretty good job as Snidley, as he does a good voice impression of the original character

Videos

Reception

When the film was released on August 27, 1999, Dudley Do-Right received mostly negative reviews from critics, audiences and fans of the original show. The film currently holds a 16% 'Rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a critic consensus that reads "The gags aren't that funny."

Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and half stars out of four and described the film as "a genial live-action version of the old cartoon, with a lot of broad slapstick humor that kids like and adults wince at. I did a little wincing the ninth or 10th time Dudley stepped on a loose plank and it slammed him in the head, but I enjoyed the film more than I expected to. It's harmless, simple-minded, and has a couple of sequences better than Dudley really deserves." Film critic Janet Maslin of The New York Times called the film "Zany entertainment!" On IMDb, the film currently holds a 3.9 out of 10.

Box office

The film had a budget of $70 million. On the film's opening weekend, it made $3 million. Overall, the film earned a box office return of only $9,974,410 domestically making it a box office bomb.

Trivia

  • At Universal Studios Orlando, there's an attraction called Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls.
  • In early development, Matt Frewer and Bernadette Peters were considered for the roles of Dudley and Nell, respectively.

External links