[Screen It]


(1997) (Leslie Nielsen, Kelly Lynch) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild None *Moderate Minor Mild
Mild None Minor None Minor
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor Minor None Mild *Moderate

Comedy/Children's: A bumbling nearsighted millionaire must clear his name of stealing a prized jewel in this remake of the 1960's TV cartoon.
Quincy Magoo (LESLIE NIELSEN) is a millionaire who made his fortune from being the canned vegetable king. Now retired and extremely nearsighted, he bumbles and stumbles his way through life. As one of the Museum of Natural History's benefactors, Magoo is on hand for the grand revealing of the coveted Star of Kuristan, a fist-sized red ruby. Meeting Kuristan's young and beautiful representative, Stacey (JENNIFER GARNER), Magoo tries to get his naive nephew, Waldo (MATT KEESLAR), to ask her out on a date.

Little does Magoo know that Cloquet (MALCOLM McDOWELL), a criminal mastermind, has sent two operatives to steal the ruby that night. Luanne Le Seur (KELLY LYNCH), a beautiful but deadly martial arts expert and Morgan (NICK CHINLUND), a dimwitted thug, eventually get the ruby, but since Magoo was lost all night in the museum and showed up on surveillance tapes, the Feds think he's the suspect. Thus they assign Chuck (STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY), an accident prone FBI agent and Gus (ERNIE HUDSON), a slick CIA agent to trail Magoo and nail him with the ruby.

Aware that Magoo has unknowingly obtained the stone, Luanne poses as Prunella Pagliacci, a woman whose first name is the same as Magoo's last love. After many close calls relating to his nearsightedness, Magoo, his English bulldog, Angus, and Waldo follow Luanne, who now has the stone, to Brazil. There she's tries to sell the ruby to a criminal kingpin, "The Piranha" Peru (MIGUEL FERRER) who wants the stone for his bride to be. From that point on, Magoo and the others do what they can to rescue the stone.

None of them will know of the original cartoon, so it will depend on whether they've seen the advertising for it.
For mild language and action sequences.
  • LESLIE NIELSEN plays a bumbling, nearsighted millionaire who is oblivious to his nearsightedness as well as the dangers both big and small around him.
  • KELLY LYNCH plays a thief who will do anything to steal a valuable ruby and uses martial arts moves as well as a gun to get her way.
  • The rest of the characters are just caricatures of people (granted this is supposed to be a stupid movie), but other than the nephew Waldo, few parents would consider any of them to be good role models for their kids.


    OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
    Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel. Disney, the studio responsible for some great animated films in the past and of recent, has been on a recent binge of remaking old movies as well as digging up old TV shows and turning both into big screen movies. In the past year we've had "That Darn Cat," "George of the Jungle," and "Flubber" (a remake of "The Absentminded Professor"). Now you can add the wildly popular and well known "Mr. Magoo" to that list.

    Okay, wipe that confused look from your face. "Mr. Magoo" was a short-lived TV cartoon that aired from 1960 through 1962 and featured a short, older man who was extremely nearsighted. Sporting the voice of Jim Backus (best known as Thurston Howell III on TV's "Gilligan's Island"), the series came and went without much fanfare and then pretty much disappeared from the collective American psyche. Not wise in the ways of leaving what's well enough alone, Disney has brought back Magoo and with it a small firestorm of controversy.

    This past summer the National Federation of the Blind protested the movie's production saying that Magoo's bumbling, nearsighted character was "an insult to blind people." While Magoo isn't blind, and isn't as badly portrayed as in the old TV cartoon, there is something to be said about using a person's "shortcomings" as comedic fodder (see the film's disclaimer under the "Bad Attitudes" category). Considering that and the fact that few people born after the mid 60's remember Magoo -- and certainly few if any kids have any awareness of the character -- it's surprising that Disney would go to such efforts to make what would turn out to be such a horrendous movie.

    I'm not talking about the treatment of the blind issue, but the torturous treatment of moviegoers in general. This is the sort of film they would have used in "A Clockwork Orange" to punish Malcolm McDowell's character into being passive. Of course he -- McDowell, not Alex his character -- just so happens to be in this movie, so this time he's brought it upon himself. Aimed at no one over the age of say, seven or eight-years-old, this film may even be insulting to them.

    It uses the occasional, but standard elements found in "low brow" kids films -- sped up film, goofy sounds, and stupid characters such as a man who thinks his ski mask is "bad" because he can only see through one eye hole (he has it turned sideways on his head). While a few kids laughed at some of the hijinks (in particular, some brief moments where Magoo's dog prevents him from tripping over things), and a few adults chuckled here and there, this film is a terrible blunder.

    Most of that can be attributed to the overall inane presentation, with a great deal of that falling on director Stanley Tong's shoulders. Why the director of martial arts movies such as "First Strike," "Rumble in the Bronx" and "Supercop" -- all staring Jackie Chan -- was chosen to direct a kids film is completely beyond my level of comprehension. One character, played by Kelly Lynch, has some martial arts moves in her arsenal, but you can't tell whether Tong added those once on board, or whether he was simply hired because there were such scenes already in the script. Whatever the case, he's certainly not the right man for this job.

    The Jackie Chan movies certainly don't approach high art by any means, but at least they deliver what they're supposed to, and almost always in a self-deprecating way. Tong's approach in this film is to play the comedy down so low that it will knock your feet out from under you by hitting you in the ankles. This is the kind of material you'd expect to find in the latest "Police Academy" movie, and even then that might be giving this film too much credit (and please don't tell me Guttenberg and company are coming back -- I couldn't take a film like that and this one in less than a year's time).

    The characters are written so flat you couldn't see them if they turned sideways, the plot is simplistic to the point of being maddening, and most of the performances fall below even those standards. What's most surprising is that the script was co-written by Pat Proft (the writer of the "Naked Gun" and "Hot Shots" films). Showing nothing near the fun, imaginative work of those movies, perhaps the blame needs to be aimed on the other co-writer, Tom Sherohman. After all, his previous writing credit was for 1981's "Modern Problems," the Chevy Chase debacle, all of which seems more in line with the lackluster material found here.

    Yes, we know, it's not supposed to be taken seriously and it is supposed to be goofy. I'm not some old fuddy duddy and I can accept and enjoy such films when they're done properly. Case in point is last summer's "George of the Jungle." Was it stupid? Yes. How about funny? You bet. Finally, was it entertaining for all ages? Exactamundo. This film only meets the first criteria.

    Leslie Nielsen gives it an okay shot and bears a passing resemblance to the diminutive cartoon character (a difficult appearance to reproduce). He has a few mildly amusing moments, but they're few and far in between and nowhere near the caliber of work he gave us in the "Naked Gun" series and what's here certainly can't save this film. It's amazing to think that Nielsen started out as a serious performer (such as playing Commander Adams in 1956's sci-fi classic "Forbidden Planet"), and then transformed over the years into the fumbling comedic boob. Nonetheless, it's doubtful he ever would have imagined he'd find himself in a movie like this.

    The same goes for Kelly Lynch who does a complete one hundred and eighty-degree turn from her normal work for this role. While she hams it up quite a bit, this is as far as one could get from her acclaimed performance in "Drugstore Cowboy" (1989). The same can be said for Malcolm McDowell, although his decline into playing the stereotypical villain has been in a work in progress for some time now. Once a gifted actor with varied and tremendous performances (in "A Clockwork Orange" and the brilliant "Time After Time"), McDowell is now resigned to acting in computer games or be a film's villain every so often.

    Of course Disney falls into that same category of "how could they have been involved with this?" Mining for another potential hit, they've come up with nothing but mud, or better yet, sludge. Hopefully the pilfering of old shows will soon end, and they will start telling some imaginative new stories to entertain the little ones as well as their parents. Perhaps the best thing about this film will be its financial failure that might prevent Disney and other studios from continuing their mining efforts (although "George of the Jungle" -- as the exception -- might give them incentive for years to come). Our advice about this movie -- act like Magoo and pretend that you don't see the theater as you walk by. You'll be happy you did. We barely give "Mr. Magoo" a 1 out of 10.

    Some minor profanity, a few action sequences involving guns, and a few lines of sexual innuendo are the worst of the material. That is, unless you consider the movie in general that is quite insulting to anyone's intelligence. The use of Magoo's nearsightedness as a means for comedy may also offend some viewers, but whether that holds true for you depends on how you stand on that issue (read the film's disclaimer in the "Bad Attitude" category). There's a moderate amount of fighting that involves some martial arts kicking as well as guns being aimed at people. Some buxom, bikini clad women and a few lines of innuendo may be a bit adult for young kids in some parents' minds. In another scene not listed below, we hear the sound of Magoo's dog peeing into a pot. Beyond that, the other categories aren't too bad. Still, and although it's questionable how many kids will want to see this film, you should read through the material if they do.

  • People drink wine or champagne at a museum reception.
  • Magoo offers to make Luanne a cocktail, but she diverts his attention from that.
  • Bikini-clad women serve champagne to Cloquet and his associates.
  • People drink wine and champagne at Peru's wedding.
  • None.
  • Some people may view the film's portrayal of Magoo's nearsightedness as having both. Some of the things used for humor are: Magoo picks items from a woman's elaborate hat that he mistakes for an hor d'oeuvres platter; he cuts an electrical cable instead of an opening ceremony ribbon; he spreads toothpaste on his arm instead of suntan lotion; Magoo fishes and hooks Morgan on the butt, but thinks he's caught a fish; he steps onto a boat's paddlewheel, thinking it's an escalator; Magoo rides down a ski slope on an upside down ironing board; and several others. At one moment the song with the lyrics, "I can see clearly now that the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way...." plays as Magoo "blindly" drives down the road.
  • Regarding that, at the end of the movie there's a written statement saying that the film "is not intended as an accurate portrayal of blindness or poor eyesight. Blindness or poor eyesight does not imply an impairment of one's ability to be employed in a wide range of jobs, raise a family, perform independent or important duties or engage in a well-rounded life. All people with disabilities deserve a fair chance to live and work without being impeded by prejudice."
  • Luanne, Morgan, and everyone else involved in trying to steal the ruby have both.
  • Luanne then poses as several different people and also goes through Magoo's belongings at his house.
  • Chuck poses as an Indian delivery man (from India) with stereotypical attire and darkened makeup on his face.
  • Cloquet uses several bikini clad women to serve his guests (demeaning toward women).
  • A character mentions that he tattoos the likeness of those he's killed onto his body.
  • Luanne kicks Morgan several times and tries to knock him from a ship. He then grabs her and holds on to her foot as she dangles from a swinging gate on the ship.
  • Some younger kids may find moments where guns are held on Magoo and Waldo as tense.
  • Likewise, a scene where Magoo and Luanne are in a boat headed for a waterfall may be suspenseful to some younger viewers.
  • Handguns/Machine Guns: Used by several different characters to threaten others.
  • Knife: Carried by Morgan in his mouth as he swims after Magoo's boat.
  • Phrases: "Screw" (non sexual), "Shut up," "Idiot," and "Sucked."
  • Some kids may want to imitate Luanne's many martial arts moves.
  • Morgan swims after Magoo's boat with a knife cliched between his teeth.
  • Luanne throws her reporter's notebook down onto the beach (littering).
  • Morgan squeezes through a dog opening in a door.
  • None.
  • There's just a little bit of comically suspenseful music in a few scenes.
  • None.
  • 2 hells and 1 damn (the latter in the out-takes during the credits) are used as exclamations.
  • Luanne seductively tells Morgan, "I can take you to places you've never been before," but he doesn't get her gist and thinks she's talking geographically.
  • Luanne (talking about the ruby, but partially taken out of context) tells Magoo, "You know what I came here for. You know what I want. Give it to me." He responds, "You modern women, you're so direct."
  • At Cloquet's criminal reception, several bikini clad women serve the men and we see quite a bit of their cleavage.
  • Magoo smokes a cigar when he poses as Peru.
  • None.
  • The use of disabilities for sources of humor. Much was made about this film "making fun" of the blind, and while Magoo is just nearsighted, some viewers may still find it in bad taste.
  • What follows is mainly done for laughs and/or slapstick moments.
  • Magoo accidentally kicks someone else when he tries to kick Waldo to get his attention. That man, in turn, kicks Waldo.
  • Morgan slides down a dinosaur display and crashes through the case holding the jewel.
  • Morgan aims his gun at Magoo, but a security guard then holds his on Morgan. When Magoo's actions distract them, Morgan hits the guard. Both are then hit and knocked to the floor by a flying dinosaur display.
  • Luanne kicks Morgan several times and tries to knock him from a ship.
  • Cloquet tells Morgan, "We must kill Le Seur."
  • Magoo accidentally hits Chuck with a Viking prop backstage at a play. Later Chuck is shot by a catapult across the stage.
  • Morgan prepares to wrap some piano wire around Magoo's neck, but Magoo hits him with the prop mallet as well.
  • A door that's closed hits Chuck and sends him tumbling down a set of stairs.
  • Luanne holds a gun on Magoo, and then kicks Waldo and knocks him to the floor.
  • Chuck and Gus aim their guns at both Morgan and Magoo, but don't fire.
  • Luanne swings a kick around and knocks Waldo to the ground.
  • Luanne knocks out several more men.
  • Morgan grabs Luanne by the neck. She in turn knees him in the crotch and then kicks him into a pool.
  • Chuck smacks into the side of a snow tunnel.
  • Waldo rides up on a snowmobile and accidentally knocks over one man and sends Morgan flying over a cliff.
  • Peru's thugs aim their machine guns and handguns on Waldo.
  • Luanne fights with several men who planned to kill her and knocks them out.
  • Peru and Luanne struggle over a machine gun that fires into a helicopter's cockpit control panel. He then elbows her and she retaliates by kicking him in the face.

  • Reviewed December 16, 1997

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