The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

For those old enough to remember the eccentric, surreal children's daily TV shorts, created by Emma Thompson's dad, will find this star-voiced, glossy CGI animated full-length feature a travesty.

It looks terrific. The effects are flung about like Smarties. Robbie Williams does a great job as Dougal, the sweet-toothed pooch. The songs are B-side forgettables and the plot might have been written for a Superman comic 15 years after anyone gave a damn.

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The voices, with the exception of pop clown Williams (Kylie as Florence doesn't talk much), are so well known that they get in the way. Bill Nighy is going to have to stop doing his laid back slacker drug-blurred loser voice, because it is fast becoming a cliche, even out of the mouth of a rabbit. Jim Broadbent as a snail, Joanna Lumley as a cow, Ian McKellen as a spring and Ray Winstone as a toy soldier are so emphatically themselves that their characters have to struggle to make themselves known.

The plot may be puerile, but the action never stops and the animation, however achieved, is most impressive. The baddie, voiced with pantomime splendour by Dr Who himself (Tom Baker), is a clone of Zebedee, the bouncy spring, except he is called Zebadee and has magic powers. Like The Incredibles dad's pal, he can freeze anything instantly and his plan is to halt global warming in a flash, because sunlight and green fields and beautiful summery things upset his frosty sensibility.

Dougal, Ermintrude (cow), Brian (snail), Dylan (rabbit) and Zebedee set out to save the world in a train (Lee Evans) that resembles a close relative of Thomas The Tank Engine, except it's more versatile and can walk across dangerous terrain. Because of the nature of Zebadee's evil genius, most of the film is in Ice Age territory, ideal for bobsleighing.

The Magic Roundabout has charm and is candy coloured, which excuses a lot. Even Dougal's dream sequences, which are so soppy you want to wash your eyes with lemons, can be forgiven, due to Robbie's sense of humour. The script might have been wittier, but with these actors doing the talking, it's a joy to listen to.

If the story had made more sense, wow! What fun this would have been.

Reviewed on: 11 Feb 2005
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The Magic Roundabout packshot
Dougal the dog and his roundabout pals battle a springy ice magician to save the world.
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Director: Dave Borthwick, Jean Duval, Frank Passingham

Writer: Paul Bassett, Tad Safran, Raolf Sanoussi, Stephane Sanoussi

Starring: voices of Robbie Williams, Tom Baker, Jim Broadbent, Ian McKellen, Joanna Lumley, Bill Nighy, Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue, Lee Evans

Year: 2005

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: UK/France


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