Lionsgate // 2006 // 68 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 10th, 2006
Unravel the clues.
Arthur gets his own feature film with this CGI-animated tale of amateur detective work and a whiny little sister. Arthur, DW, and that bastard Buster are all here to usher the aardvark into the three-dimensional realm.
Here's the story: Arthur's dog Pal has been feeling neglected lately. Arthur's been distracted with water balloon fights and Pal just sits by the window, longingly gazing outside. Well, Arthur is going to learn the value of the dog-aardvark relationship when Pal takes off and gets lost in the big city. This propels Arthur into a fit of hysteria. He enlists the help of all of his friends, including the useless Buster, to track the dog down. As they sniff the clues, Arthur's crew ends up at an ice cream factory, an ice show, and, eventually a showdown with a trucker. Will the young aardvark and his dog finally be reunited?
I'll ruin the suspense for you. Yes. This is an Arthur production after all, and the show is relentlessly harmless. It's G-rated fare, through and through, as the edgiest the movie gets is with DW's dickhead behavior. Arthur is an easygoing character, who's pretty boring, but will at least be a good role model for you young aardvarks everywhere. Buster, however, should be boiled in a pot by Glenn Close.
Arthur's Lost Pal is short, clocking in at a shade north of 60 minutes, but should pack enough entertainment for fans. All the major characters are present and accounted for, now rendered in glorious 3D, which, I confess, goes a long way. The 2D series had a static visual style, but the new computer modeling injects a more dynamic sense to the animation. In short, 3D suits Arthur well.
The story is basic, inoffensive Arthur fare. What's good about the milked-dry escaped dog plot concept is it allows the characters to get up and get out into Elwood City, and allows the animators to create some interesting locales. The ice cream factory is easily the most entertaining set-piece the film has to offer, as it takes a page or two out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Lots of fun, colorful activity, which are words I don't usually associate with Arthur-oriented entertainment. It's all tied up with the typical feel-good, we-learned-something bowtie that's a series trademark, as Arthur realizes how important his dog is to him and how he should do his best to take care of it and how you kids watching this should press stop on the DVD remote and go take your damn dog out for a walk.
That's all I've got to say about this one, kids. Arthur fans, this is for you. Even if you're not much of a follower -- as I certainly am not -- Arthur's Best Pal is a decent slice of lightweight CGI fun. The specs: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 surround, which are both more than suitable. Extras are limited to a pair of interactive games and some storyboards.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 68 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Puppy Paw Pursuit Game
* Follow that Truck Driving Game