I have written before that I love Nickelodeon’s version of “Doug” but never even watched one episode of ABC’s “Brand Spanking New Doug.” I didn’t want Disney’s chipper mouse hands all over “Doug”. So even though I am a fan of Nick’s “Doug”, I didn’t go to the theater to watch Disney’s “Doug’s 1st Movie” in 1999. However, when Nick’s little rugrat babies hit theaters in 1998 with “The Rugrat’s Movie,” I went to the theater and then went out and bought the soundtrack. I still love the music from it. I think the reason I got so into “The Rugrat’s Movie” is because it still had a Nickelodeon feel and wasn’t Disneyfied in any way.
Yesterday, I finally watched “Doug’s 1st Movie” (which was also his last movie), and I was shocked at how little effort Disney put into it. In the hands of Disney, I thought “Doug” would receive royal treatment. But the film obviously did not receive the same love and attention that Paramount Pictures showed Nick’s “Rugrats”. The “Doug” movie based on the Disney version (note it was not the Nick version) of “Doug” was mindblowingly mediocre. It looked like a cheap, direct to video cartoon. It was just a longer version of a typical episode.
I try to think of ways “Doug’s 1st Movie” could have been saved. Considering Disney was behind it, it wouldn’t have killed them to throw in some song and dance routines. Disney is especially good at that. Also, I love old school animation rather than computer animation, but Disney could have done far better. “Doug” is supposed to have simplistic cartoon drawings, but there should have been more interesting use of animation and special effects in order to justify a movie that was not designated as made for TV or direct to video. And the biggest way to justify a “Doug” movie would have been to simply do everything from the cast to the setting on a grander scale. They should have entered in a lot of new characters with celebrity guest voices. The new monster character was okay, but he never actually talked. Creating scenes that would take Doug far from Bluffington also would have added a new dimension to the world of “Doug” that would have required a full length film.
I’m basically saying that Disney should have taken a look at “The Rugrats Movie” and tried to replicate it. “The Rugrats Movie” had musical numbers, lots of celebrity voices, and the babies were taken far from home, parents, and safe little rugs in their playpens. I never liked the idea of Disney taking over “Doug”, but it’s strange that they mishandled it so badly. If “Doug” had stayed a Nicktoon (Nickelodeon cartoon), I wonder if things might have gone differently.