It’s been 61 years since the first Mr. Magoo cartoon was produced by UPA animation studios. The misadventures of a lovable bald man with very poor eyesight have kept audiences entertained for decades. For the bulk of Mr. Magoo’s animated lifespan, he was voiced by Jim Backus whom many people know best as Mr. Howell on Gilligan’s Island.
The original intent for the character was far from what he became, and over the years the Magoo characters has been on the big screen, TV, and many different specials. The Mr. Magoo Show spawned controversy over the use of Magoo’s Chinese houseboy, Charley, who had buck-teeth and used broken English. He was later edited out of rebroadcasts.
In 1997, Disney attempted to adapt Mr. Magoo into the live-action world with Leslie Nielsen in the title role. The film was hit hard by negative reviews (04% on RottenTomatoes), and was even the subject of protests by activists groups who support the blind or “vision impaired.”
Even with its odd disclaimer at the end of the film, the movie failed to hit a positive chord with audiences and it was a box office dud. I, however, liked it mainly because I am a hardcore Leslie Nielsen fan.
Now, Mr. Magoo is back with a new animated action-adventure movie, Kung-Fu Magoo, and it is a lot of fun! The animation style reminds me of a Cartoon Network show, and the action and gags are engaging and fun. This is a much better modern version of Mr. Magoo than the Leslie Nielsen outing, and the voice talent does a stellar job and keeping the story and the humor afloat. The music score is also highly entertaining, as is the opening title sequence that draws you into the film immediately.
Listen for the voice talents of Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants), Dylan and Cole Sprouse from Disney Channel’s Suite Life on Deck, Alyson Stoner (Camp Rock), and Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live). It’s a fun flick that’s safe to watch with the entire family.
Unfortunately, there are no special features, which would have been cool to have a featurette talking about the history of the character and how this project came to be.
If you like Mr. Magoo, animated films, or just a good family flick, I recommend Kung-Fu Magoo. It’s definitely worth checking out.