Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle [2000]

The problem with live-action movies based on beloved cartoon characters is that humans are never as flexible, as unpredictable, or just plain as goofy as their animated counterparts. So it is with this blend of animation and live action. Rocky and Bullwinkle remain animated characters (trapped in our reality), while Boris and Natasha (Jason Alexander and Rene Russo), along with their boss, Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro), are transformed from cartoons to human reproductions when they escape from rerun land. They've come to our world to take it over; the FBI springs Rocky and Bullwinkle from the second dimension to stop them. But the writing in Kenneth Lonergan's script lacks the throw-away flair of the jokes that characterized Jay Ward's much-beloved animated series of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Part of the problem is that Russo, Alexander, and De Niro are so obviously working at acting cartoonish, instead of simply being cartoons. And part is that the script rarely comes up with the kind of wonderful wordplay in which Ward specialized. The moose, as usual, gets all the best lines, but they're too few and far between to salvage this underachieving summer film. --Marshall Fine

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