Nickelodeon // 2011 // 56 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // August 7th, 2011
"Grow Up, Timmy Turner!"
The Fairly OddParents has proven to be one of Nickelodeon's most entertaining and enduring shows. The stories of Timmy Turner, blessed with two fairy godparents (Cosmo and Wanda), have been a staple of the network since 2001. Now, following several animated movie specials, the franchise has taken the leap into live action with A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! which is set thirteen years on from the events of the animated series.
Timmy Turner was just an ordinary ten-year-old boy, except for one thing: he had fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda, who could grant his every wish. Despite the best efforts of his teacher, Mr. Crocker, to capture them, Timmy, Cosmo, and Wanda always came out on top -- but now things are different.
Timmy has just turned twenty-three years old, but knowing that growing up would mean he loses Cosmo and Wanda, has stayed exactly the same for the past thirteen years. He's still in the fifth grade, still living at home, and has nothing resembling an adult relationship; that is until Tootie (the formerly annoying little girl with a crush on Timmy) returns to Dimmsdale to save the town from evil billionaire Hugh J. Magnate. Timmy is instantly smitten, and when Crocker joins forces with Magnate to capture Cosmo and Wanda, he must choose between growing up and a life with Tootie or saving his fairies and staying a kid forever.
The basic premise behind A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! certainly offers potential, but its execution -- hindered massively by a restrictive runtime and a lack of ambition -- means that the final film comes up short. In fact, even taking onboard the poor track record of live-action adaptations of animated series', Grow Up, Timmy Turner is massively disappointing. It's not so much that it doesn't contain the elements that made The Fairly OddParents so much fun; the show's anarchic nature and cast of oddballs is all present and correct. It's more a case that what worked so well in animated form simply doesn't translate to a live-action movie.
Clocking in at 56 minutes, Grow Up, Timmy Turner plays like an extended episode of the cartoon, but starts flagging after only 20 minutes. Having opened with a bang -- Timmy is woken on his birthday by a pirate ship smashing through his bedroom wall -- the movie quickly establishes the anxieties that Wanda and Cosmo are going through. Unlike Timmy who has no plans whatsoever to grow up (he's still in the fifth grade and shows no signs of leaving home), Wanda and Cosmo know that it is inevitable that Timmy will eventually leave his childhood behind. When Tootie-now all grown up-returns to Dimmsdale, the pair knows the writing is on the wall. Timmy is instantly infatuated with Tootie, who has lost her dorkiness, and finds himself pining after her to the point where he quickly starts spending time with her rather than Cosmo and Wanda. At this point, Grow Up, Timmy Turner suggests it might deliver a Toy Story 3-style tale on saying goodbye to one's childhood as the journey into adulthood begins. However, through either a lack of nerve or fear that it may damage the ongoing cartoon series, the writers bottle it and we are forced to endure a poorly executed plot revolving around an evil oil tycoon who plans to destroy part of Dimmsdale, in a move that robs the film of a potentially emotional payoff.
Now, credit where it's due, the cast are pretty much spot on. Drake Bell (Drake and Josh) delivers about as good a grownup Timmy Turner as you could wish for, while Daniella Monet (Victorious) brings a little feistiness to the role of Tootie. Better yet, David Lewis and Steven Weber, who plays the film's villains, Denzel Crocker and Hugh J. Magnate, commit themselves fully to bringing the animated series to life, and in doing so steal the show. There are even appearances from Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as live-action versions of Cosmo and Wanda. Likewise the look of the film is in keeping with the cartoon, thanks to director Savage Steve Holland (Better Off Dead), who has a history of working in kids' TV. The CGI versions of Cosmo and Wanda aren't too distracting. They should prove entertaining for any kids watching. Sadly the screenplay lets all of them down, which is most perplexing as it comes from series regular Scott Fellows and the man who created the series, Butch Hartman. Perhaps the truth is they had trouble bringing the franchise to a close -- or maybe they see the potential for further live-action adventures?
Along with an extended cut of the movie, which really does nothing to improve the film (it's arguable that it actually only makes it a more grueling experience), the DVD features two featurettes: "Behind-the-Scenes," and "Meet Daniella Monet." Both are nothing more than brief promotional pieces for the film, and offer absolutely no insight into the making of the film. The full-screen transfer is certainly colorful, with a sharp picture that does a reasonable job of recreating the look of the cartoon. The stereo soundtrack is never exactly flashy, but does a good job with few flaws.
Not completely horrible, A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! feels more like the show's creators testing the waters of live action, rather than an attempting to bring their creation to an end. Indeed, the finale suggests the distinct possibility that we'll be seeing more from Timmy, Tootie, Wanda, and Cosmo in the not-too-distant future.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 56 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extended Cut