Paramount // 2005 // 102 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Maurice Cobbs (Retired) // May 7th, 2005
"All at once heartbreaking and cathartic -- for as we truly know, if we hold on to tightly to the past, there can be no embracing the future." -- Carl Foutley
Teenaged diarist Ginger Foutley (Melissa Disney) returns in the series finale of the tremendously popular As Told By Ginger. As the wedding between Ginger's mother, Lois (Laraine Newman), and her boyfriend, Dr. David Dave (David Jeremiah), approaches, Ginger finds herself dealing with feelings of betrayal and doubts about commitment after the unfortunate ending of her romantic relationship with Darren (Kenny Blank), even as she explores the possibility of a new romance with Orion (Justin Cowden). Uncertain of how to proceed -- or indeed if she even wants to -- Ginger instead turns her attention to planning the wedding. But there are sinister forces afoot: A mysterious saboteur contacts the devious Nikki LaPorte (Jennifer Coolidge, Legally Blonde) to wreck the wedding by making Dr. Dave appear to be an unfaithful two-timer. Fortunately, Ginger's brother Carl and his stalwart friend Hoodsey are on the case and determined to get to the truth -- with a little timely help from the mystical Noelle (series creator Emily Kapnek).
This is great stuff! The storyline is genuinely engaging, an honest-to-goodness mystery. Carl and Hoodsey are brilliant, played as a spoof of '70s-type buddy cops as they follow the trail of evidence and run down the truth behind the wedding frame. And there is a wonderful genuineness to Ginger and the rest of the cast that should make this feature enjoyable for parents as well as the kids. Some kids' shows try for this mixture of maturity and silliness, but only a very few manage to actually pull it off, and indeed, the vast majority of them simply throw a variety of inane images and too-loud sounds at you until your head nearly explodes from sensory overload. Not so with Ginger: It's a well-paced, well-written, and well-acted package.
I've pretty much been sold on As Told By Ginger since reviewing Far From Home, but The Wedding Frame seals the deal. Even though I'm not particularly a fan of Klasky Csupo's other animation, like Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, I can always appreciate a smartly written show that doesn't talk down to its intended audience, and Ginger definitely delivers on that level. The show is a perfect blending of heartfelt teenage drama and witty, even bizarre, humor. The characters are interesting and memorable, the situations ring true but never seem forced or stale, and the animation is crisp and colorful. All in all, As Told By Ginger is the sort of thing that cries out for a full release, and I hope that Nickelodeon is planning boxed sets soon. I want to see this wonderful series in its entirety!
There are also two bonus episodes of As Told By Ginger included with this DVD package. In Stealing First," the venomous Miranda (Cree Summer) bets Courtney Gripling (Liz Georges) that Ginger will not French kiss the dashing and urbane French exchange student Ian (Adam Wylie) while on the class ski trip. And in "Dare I, Darren," Ginger has a dream about her friend and next-door neighbor Darren, and becomes convinced that she is in love with him. But Darren sees their relationship in a different light. Rounding out the selection of special features is a DVD-Rom cookbook.
Many shows, including animated ones, develop huge fan followings, but not all them leave the air as classily as As Told By Ginger has with The Wedding Frame. Actually, it makes me want to know what happens next -- especially in light of the little glimpse of the future at the end of the movie, which is heavy with implications about the main characters and where they will eventually end up. How many TV shows leave you wanting more? Mostly, you're breathing a sigh of relief that they're finally gone, like your Uncle Ira who dropped in for a visit and wound up staying for five years. Well done. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Episodes: "Stealing First," "Dare I, Darren?"
* TV Tome