Yesterday, I blogged about the historically disastrous box office debut of “The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure,” a singalong kiddie romp that cost a reported $20 million to make, screened over the weekend on more than 2,000 screens and earned just $445,000.
Such paltry grosses suggest that the public has absolutely zero interest in Oogieloves. Which, of course, made me super-interested in Oogieloves.
Therefore, due to unpopular demand, I saw the movie, which was not screened in advance for critics in Washington, and have recounted the experience for you below. You are welcome.
Warning: There are spoilers a— oh, honestly, does anyone care about spoilers in a movie about throwing a birthday party for a pillow?
12:30 p.m.: I approach the box office at a Regal multiplex in Rockville and manage to say, “One for Oogieloves, please” with a completely straight face. Contrary to my expectations, the guy behind the ticket counter does not pass out from the shock of seeing an actual human being purchasing a ticket to this film. “Nine dollars, please,” he says. “Enjoy the show,” he adds, with no sense of irony.
12:32 p.m.: I enter the auditorium screening “The Oogieloves” and realize that my presence has bumped up the audience head count to three. It’s me, a 4-year-old and his dad. And we are ready to have the cinematic adventure of our lives! Or at least find out what the heck an Oogielove is.
12:43 p.m.: Five trailers later, the movie is starting and we’re meeting the Oogieloves. Their names are Toofie, Zoozie and Goobie and apparently they are in a band together and feel compelled to sing a song about how they’re Oogieloves. They are using the word Oogielove as if it’s an entity we’re all familiar with from other family films, like “The Oogieloves Take Manhattan” or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Oogieloves.” With no definition given, the best I can tell is that an Oogielove is an oversize puppet thingy with the body of Baby Bop from “Barney” and a face that’s a mix of Cabbage Patch Kid and Sid the Science Kid.
12:44 p.m.: The Oogieloves explain that every time we see butterflies on the screen, we have permission to get up and dance. But when turtles walk across the bottom of the screen, that means we have to sit down. Hollywood should really apply this visual aid to other movies. It would help critics so much when they aren’t sure whether to give a film a standing ovation at Cannes.
12:45 p.m.: Butterflies show up. The 4-year-old several rows ahead of me appears to be moving.
12:46 p.m.: Scene change. The camera swoops into the Oogieloves’ house, which they apparently share with a goldfish named Ruffy, a pillow named Schluufy and a talking window called Windy, who has a Southern accent and is scaring the bleep out of me.
12:50 p.m.: The plot is established: The Oogieloves are planning a surprise birthday party for the pillow. But then J. Edgar the vacuum — a Hoover, get it? — is seen scooting through a park with balloons in his hand that he lets fly away because, oh, by the way, vacuums can’t hold balloons or walk in parks so who was the dummy who sent the vacuum to pick up the balloons for the party? This reminds me: A Celebritology commenter noted in yesterday’s post that a mirror flirts with a vacuum cleaner in this movie. That must have been a joke, right?
12:51 p.m.: Oh my God. It was not a joke. The Oogieloves have just told J. Edgar — who is making Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of J. Edgar look more and more bush league by the minute — that he should stay home with Windy the Window while they go out to retrieve the balloons, which they obviously need for the party. Windy smiles knowingly. J. Edgar giggles. I grab my iPhone to make sure this movie is rated G.
12:53 p.m.: We are told that every time that Toofie’s pants fall down, we all have to shout: “Goofy Toofie! Pick up your pants!” His pants fall down. The dad, the 4-year-old and I remain silent in a form of political protest.
12:59 p.m.: The Oogieloves have found the first balloon, which is in a tree that holds a tea-kettle-shaped house where Cloris Leachman lives. Leachman, called Grandma Dotty, starts to sing and commands that we all “shake it as much as you can.” Butterflies flitter across the screen. The 4-year-old might be shaking something.
1:06 p.m.: “Goofy Toofie! Pick up your pants!”
1:09 p.m.: The Oogieloves have found the second missing balloon, which somehow ended up on a cow inside a diner. Chazz Palminteri shows up and reveals himself to be a man named Milkshake Marvin, then says words like “Daddy-O” a lot and sings a song about milkshakes. So, basically, the exact same role he played in “The Usual Suspects.”
1:17 p.m.: Now the Oogieloves are at an airport with Toni Braxton, who slips into a slinky evening gown so she can sing a number called “Scratchy Sniffy Cough Cough,” which, as far as I know, is the first ever slow jam about allergies. The Oogieloves retrieve the third balloon, which means there are still two more to find and at least two more celebrities who will be forced to die of Oogielove-miliation.
1:29 p.m.: Schluufy, the pillow who is causing the Oogieloves to go to all these monumental efforts when J. Edgar really should just lend them the cash to buy more balloons, is still asleep. He has been asleep for the entire movie. I envy him a little.
1:31 p.m.: The Oogieloves have found the fourth balloon at a truck stop, where they encounter a cockatoo wearing a string of pearls who says her bunions are bothering her and that she’s gassy. Then Cary Elwes shows up in a cowboy outfit, walking crooked, spitting out bubbles and making facial expressions that suggest his bunions also are bothering him and he, too, may be gassy. The “Princess Bride” fan who lives inside my heart screams out: “This is not as I wish, Farm Boy! This is not as I wish!”
1:36 p.m. Seriously, goofy Toofie, would you pick up your #@#!-ing pants?
1:43 p.m.: I can hear the 4-year-old telling his dad he needs to go to the bathroom. Now? Just when the Oogieloves are about to board a giant sombrero with Jaime Pressly and Christopher Lloyd on it pretending to be Spanish people?
1:45 p.m.: Pressly explains that in order for the giant sombrero to move toward the windmill where the fifth and final balloon is located, everyone must dance. And that, my friends, is the moment when Toofie the Oogielove first laid the groundwork for becoming a “Dancing With the Stars” champion in 2013.
1:51 p.m.: Pressly just laid a heavy kiss on Ruffy the goldfish. The 4-year-old is still in the theater. Apparently he opted to hold it. He knows he’s in the presence of something special.
1:53 p.m.: Goofy Toofie, I am willing to buy you new pants, okay? Old Navy is having a really good sale right now.
1:56 p.m.: With the balloons now in their possession, the Oogieloves head home to throw the big party. But they notice the wind is blowing and become nervous. The balloons — which can talk, by the way, but you probably assumed that — explain that the only thing stronger than wind is love (try using that argument during a derecho) and instruct all of us to blow kisses at the screen so the Oogieloves can get home safely and throw their surprise soiree for the world’s laziest pillow.
2 p.m.: Yay! The Oogieloves finally celebrate with Schluufy the pillow, who dragged his sorry, fluffy behind out of bed. The 4-year-old finally gets to go to the bathroom. I get to leave and stop listening to Oogielove songs. It’s the most uplifting movie ending of 2012!
2:06 p.m.: As I exit the theater, I conclude that young children might mildly enjoy “The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure.” As a parent, I conclude that there is no reason they can’t enjoy it later, on DVD or OnDemand, when it does not cost nine bucks. And I realize I still don’t quite know what an Oogielove is. And yet, as I drive toward home — and I can’t tell you why I do it or what it means — I whisper these words: Oogielove, Oogielove.