Paramount // 2004 // 45 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 5th, 2005
"Hey Mom, pass the sugar!"
One of Nickelodeon's cash cows, Butch Hartman's Fairly OddParents has become an animated cultural mainstay. And with good reason: It's funny, witty, and chock full of morals from time to time. Fairly OddParents: School's Out! The Musical is a 45-minute-long musical super-episode chronicling Timmy Turner's battle with the fun-sapped pixies, rivals to the wish-granting fairies. The result: a bizarre physiological effect where my head was pounding and my eyes were strained, as if I had just consumed three metric tons of PCP-laced Lucky Charms.
Here's the general plot overview: School lets out for the summer, kids run amok, the parents seize upon an opportunity to confine them in a diabolical summer camp, Timmy wishes for kids to rule the world, more chaos ensues, the evil pixies (voiced by Ben Stein) enact a plan long in the making and assume control over Fairyworld, and it's up to Timmy and his fairy godparents to inject fun back into a glum universe.
All of this is accompanied by supremely loud musical numbers that made my brain hurt.
I love Fairly OddParents. I think it's authentically funny, and not just "funny for a kids' cartoon." The writing is often witty and packed with jokes even adults can enjoy. The premise of the show -- a small boy getting into immense trouble by making inane wishes -- opens the door for the writers to do pretty much anything they want.
So it is with a degree of sadness that I report Fairly OddParents: School's Out! The Musical is a loud, witless bore. Just as the nefarious pixies sucked the fun out of Fairyland, so too has the enjoyment been siphoned from the Fairly OddParents.
If any cartoon feature was ever made for children with the attention span of a tsetse fly, it is this one. The screen is just packed silly with visceral overload. The musical numbers are by far the most frenetic, with animated imagery zipping around at the speed of hyperspace. I'd hazard a guess that if you aren't below the age of ten and/or hopped up on your sixth double shot of high-fructose corn syrup, you'll likely miss some important plot points. See, the musical numbers serve a storytelling purpose, rapidly advancing the plot -- the result being that I, the hapless viewer, was left wondering what exactly had happened after that high-octane four-minute song-and-dance routine.
As for the songs themselves, I will say this: They're loud. Wicked loud. Clever? In some parts. Musically pleasant? Not so much. Apart from the rap songs the pixies sing (presumably to spare Ben Stein from having to belt out a solo), the rest of the ensembles are overproduced headaches. There may be some wit embedded in the screeching musical arrangements, but any potential amusement was drowned out.
The saddest aspect of all of this is the disappearance of that great wit this series usually boasts. The writers have sacrificed smartness for spectacle, focusing on a sensory assault for the source of entertainment instead of the tried-and-true brand of Fairly OddParents buffoonery. Alas. However, friends, all the news is not bad for this release. Also included are two bonus episodes: "The Big Superhero Wish" and "Most Wanted Wish." And thankfully, both episodes represent what I came to admire the Fairly Oddparents for in the first place -- they're funny.
"The Big Superhero Wish" returns to the show's bread and butter, the Crimson Chin, the hulking comic book hero voiced by Jay Leno. My favorite episodes star the Crimson Chin, and it's obvious the writers have fun with spoofing the superhero genre. In this episode, the evil NegaChin plots to make the world superhero-free and enlists the help of Timmy's real-life nemeses. "Most Wanted Wish" is another solid little gem, detailing Timmy's wish to be fawned over. Unfortunately, being "wanted" ends up having federal implications. Funny stuff, and relieving.
Episodes are shown in their original fullscreen aspect ratio and look just fine. The animation is bright and potent, and the colors are rich. The sound -- a Dolby Digital stereo mix -- is surprisingly aggressive, especially when piped through Pro Logic II. The downside is the cacophony that will meet your ears when the songs kick in.
Aside from the two bonus episodes, you'll also get an early peek at the Fairly OddParents when they premiered on Nickelodeon's Oh Yeah! cartoon show. A funny two-minute Total Request Live spoof and some previews finish the bonus features.
I hate to pooh-pooh a great cartoon like The Fairly OddParents, but this diabolical musical is an ear-canal-rupturing migraine, lacking wit and charm. Some good bonus episodes help salvage the disc, but in the end, it's simply not enough.
Guilty for causing premature tinnitus. Court adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Episodes
* The Fairly OddParents on Total Request Live
* Oh Yeah! Cartoons
* Official Site