Lionsgate // 2004 // 45 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 27th, 2005
Dare to be square!
Will this little CGI adventure be the "pick of the patch" or a "flick to dispatch?" (Okay, I tried too hard on that one.)
Just in time for that special holiday most beloved by small children, hypoglycemics, and Satan worshippers, comes the inspiring tale of Spookley the Square Pumpkin. Spookley is a good-hearted (fruit? vegetable?), but is ashamed of his odd appearance. Taunted by the jerk round pumpkins Big Tom and Little Tom, who utter such vitriol as "The only good pumpkins are round pumpkins," Spookley prefers to just hang out in the shadows of the pumpkin patch.
However, as Halloween nears, he is inexorably drawn into the festivities. The residents of the pumpkin patch are ecstatic about the holiday, and the much-anticipated "Pick of the Patch" competition, where, after a series of grueling challenges, one pumpkin will emerge as the patch stud.
And thanks to the encouragement of Jack the Scarecrow and three spiders named Edgar, Allan, and Poe (like the author in case you missed it), Spookley finds himself competing for the esteemed honor.
But big threats to his coronation loom, as Spookley must face down Big Tom and Little Tom, as well as a humongous thunderstorm that may turn the entire patch into a tossed salad.
This won't take long. Spookley the Square Pumpkin is a 45 minute long computer animated children's fable, adapted from the book The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano. It's also very well-done, packed with more life lessons than you can shake a stalk at, and is charming to boot.
There's not much heavy-lifting with this film. It's short and to the point, and while the humor isn't of the super-clever ilk that a studio like Pixar is known for, the kids to whom the film is geared should certainly get a kick out of it.
Spookley the Square Pumpkin is a children's film, through and through. It's a movie based on a children's book, and the CGI recreation carries that tone. Basically, for what it is, it certainly succeeds.
The main moral lesson it's teaching isn't very subtle -- that's "don't judge a book by its cover," which is actually spoken in the film -- but there's certainly no ambiguity. Plus, kids will be able to siphon some tips about diversity and welcoming those who are different than them and so on and so forth.
Characters are colorful and attractive to the eye, though largely bland. Spookley himself is the typical kind-hearted peon who ends up saving the day thanks to his gross deformity, Big Tom and Little Tom are the unrepentant jackasses, and generic sidekicks abound. Jack the Scarecrow is probably the most interesting, what with his sympathy towards Spookley, his strong male presence and his straw and such.
The big star of the film is the animation. Spookley the Square Pumpkin sports some eye-pleasing computer art, and never feels like it was done on the cheap. The character models and the environments are absolutely appropriate for the subject matter -- light and fun.
The transfer does the animation work justice. It's full-screen, but the colors are strong and bright and the detailing is crisp. Sound comes courtesy of a 2.0 stereo mix and is more than okay. Aside from a few trailers, the only extra is a read-along of the original book with Bobby (Monster Mash) Pickett.
One more thing: thankfully, the film stopped short of Spookley getting eviscerated and hollowed out into a Jack O'Lantern.
This is a harmless, good-natured, low-impact little film that the little brats should lap up.
Not guilty, you freak of nature.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Read-along with Bobby Pickett