Judge Clark Douglas was disappointed to learn that this film was not about an eating contest for infants.
A Really Pig Adventure
Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away, there were three little pigs, who also happened to be brothers. The first little pig (voiced by Steve Zahn, Rescue Dawn) built his house out of straw. The second little pig (voiced by Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men) built his house out of sticks. The third little pig (voiced by Brad Garrett, Everybody Loves Raymond) built his house out of bricks. One day, a special-ops team of wolves decided that they wanted to take out these three little pigs. So, they sent their most deadly agent…The Big Bad Wolf.
The Big Bad Wolf huffed, and he puffed, and he said some really snarky things, and he blew down the houses of pigs One and Two. But when he got to the third house, he simply couldn't blow it down. So, he decided to try climbing down the chimney. That didn't really work out: The Big Bad Wolf burned to death (off screen, of course). This forced the special-ops wolf team to come up with a new plan. It would be something more methodical, more sinister, and more ridiculous: they would trick the pigs into adopting a baby wolf, who would undoubtedly grow up to eat the pigs. But then, who knows what could happen when you mix 3 Pigs and a Baby?
Ever since the release of Shrek, there has been a seemingly endless array of animated films featuring snarky characters, pop-culture references, and sarcastic versions of well-known fairy tales. However, almost all of these imitations seem to forget one of the key elements that made Shrek successful: sincerity. Despite all the rude and rowdy modern-edged antics of the Shrek characters, there was a genuine element of heart to the film. I'm sorry to report that 3 Pigs and a Baby is yet another film that seems paranoid of ever dropping its hip façade.
You don't expect too much of a straight-to-DVD film like this, but 3 Pigs and a Baby nonetheless disappoints even very low expectations. It runs out of jokes very quickly and feels much too long, despite a running time of only 76 minutes. One of the most confusing things about this release is that it doesn't seem geared to appeal to any particular age group. The vast majority of the film is centered on the sulking and brooding of a teenage wolf (voiced by Jesse McCartney) trying to come to terms with his identity, yet the film is aimed at the intelligence level of 5-year-olds. On the other hand, I doubt that most 5-year-olds are going to be sharp enough to pick up on the lame nods to pop songs, Dr. Strangelove, Al Jolson, and other various pop-culture references.
The animation in this film is rather weak CGI, typical of what you see on the average straight-to-DVD animated release. The wolves, in particular, just look awful. It seems that someone found some animated sharks, added hair to them, cut the fins off, and stuck long noses on each face. The DVD transfer is perfectly solid, though, accentuating the rather broad color palette quite nicely. Sound is strong as well, with Jim Lang's diverse musical score blending quite well with the sound effects and dialogue. Speaking of dialogue, the voice work in the film is generally good, even if nobody has anything very interesting to say. Steve Zahn does his stoner routine once again and says the word "Dude" approximately 200 times over the course of the film. Brad Garrett lends his authoritative voice to the film's most grumpy character, and Jon Cryer…well, he's fine. Jesse McCartney is typically whiny as the young wolf, but that's precisely what he is supposed to be, I guess.
There's a surprisingly generous amount of special features on the DVD. The first featurette goes into the voice work of the film, as makers of the film discuss how they went about casting each part. Considering the very ridiculous and derivative nature of this film, it's quite surprising to hear how very seriously everybody seems to be taking 3 Pigs and a Baby. The second featurette offers a discussion of the story, in which such wise things as this are said: "It's a great scene. The pigs are concerned about their son, and yet they have food all over their face, which makes it a really funny scene." Third, there's a brief look at how a film like this is animated. All of these are mildly interesting, definitely geared at adults who are interested in the filmmaking process. No interactive games or kids-only features here.
To determine whether or not you should watch this film, consider the words of Steve Zahn: "The original story, it's like a piece of ham or turkey between two pieces of white bread. It's a good story, but very simple. With this film, we've added onions, and mayo, and pickles, and marshmallows, and it just makes for a much better sandwich." Really, Steve? I can't say I feel the same way, but if you agree with that sentiment, 3 Pigs and a Baby might just be your cup of tea…or, um, disgusting sandwich. As far as this Judge is concerned, the film is guilty.
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