Directed by Jean Duval, Frank Passingham and Dave Borthwick,
starring the voices of Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, Jim Broadbent, Joanna Lumley, Ian McKellen, Tom Baker, Ray Winstone and Lee Evans.
For those who don't remember, 'The Magic Roundabout' was a 1960s children's programme with a five-minute slot where an unusual array of characters did very little and hung about a roundabout that was allegedly magic. It eventually gained appreciation from exponents of kitsch aesthetics and a cult following from a later stoner generation. So given its origins, the question that begs to be asked is: whose idea was it to update this dusty showreel of kid's TV memorabilia and give it a quasi DreamWorks upgrade?
From start to finish, the feature length 'Magic Roundabout' is an exercise in poor judgement. Hailing from France, the charm of the original lay in the fact that not much happened in an almost existential way, and this nothingness only had to be sustained for five minutes. Dougal ate sugar, Florence twirled about the roundabout and Zebedee bounced in once in a while. However, for today's juvenile audience, fed on the smart plot lines, intertextuality and high-octane drama of other CGI features, gentle action holds little attraction. So the filmmakers have taken the unlikely heroes of Dougal, Brian, Ermintrude and Zebedee and sent them on a quest to free the Enchanted Village from the chilling hands of evil sorcerer Zeebad. The gentle characters are mercilessly thrown in front of trains and sent into booby-trapped temples.
The result is a film that completely misses the mark and is unsure of its target audience. While it's obvious that the CGI animation is lovingly rendered, in every other way 'The Magic Roundabout' suffers in comparison to its smarter US counterparts. Regardless of a cast that boasts the finest of British actors (Williams not withstanding), the action and the characters don't gel. There is little here for kids to enjoy and Generation X-ers tagging along to reminisce will be assaulted with a sack load of drug culture clichés. The 2005 Magic Roundabout is unlikely to gain a new audience or offer anything new to its original fans.