Revisited: Mr. Magoo

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mr. Quincy Magoo (Leslie Nielsen), a wealthy canned vegetable factory owner, goes to the museum to attend a party. While there, Waldo (Matt Keeslar), Mr. Magoo’s nephew, spies a woman named Stacey Sampanahoditra (Jennifer Garner), on whom he develops a crush. Later that night, jewel thieves Luanne LeSeur (Kelly Lynch) and Bob Morgan (Nick Chinlund) steal the museum’s beautiful ruby “The Star of Kuristan” and escape on a boat to Austin Cloquet (Malcolm McDowell), Bob’s boss.

Meanwhile, Mr. Magoo and his dog Angus go fishing in the same area as the jewel thieves’ boat. Luanne picks a fight with Bob and in the scuffle, they lose the ruby which lands in Mr. Magoo’s boat unbeknownst to Magoo. Bob goes after the ruby but fails by falling onto the paddle wheel of a paddle boat.

At the museum, the curator and Stacey send two agents: Gustav Anders of the CIA (Ernie Hudson) and Chuck Stupak of the FBI (Stephen Tobolowsky) to track down the ruby and spy on Mr. Magoo whom they believe stole the ruby. Stacey mentions she was invited to the opera where the Magoos go that night. Anders and Stupak also visit the opera to look for Mr. Magoo who is in the show. At the opera Mr. Magoo meets Luanne who pretends to be a magazine reporter named Prunella Pagliachi. She wishes Mr. Magoo luck at the opera, who immediately takes a liking to her. Stupak sneaks on the stage and fails to find any clue about Mr. Magoo with Mr. Magoo accidentally hitting Stupak with a big tool.

The next morning, Luanne tricks Mr. Magoo into taking her to his house with an injured ankle. Stupak finds a notebook with Luanne’s fingerprints on it and realizes who Mr. Magoo is with. He and Anders go to Mr. Magoo’s house where Stupak sneaks in looking for the ruby. Mr. Magoo and Luanne arrive at the house and Stupak hides from them. Bob sneaks into Mr. Magoo’s house and finds the ruby. Upon being caught in the act, he steals Mr. Magoo’s prized Studebaker with the Magoos and Luanne chasing after him in Magoo’s Eggplant-mobile. Bob loses them and brings the ruby to Austin.

Austin plans an auction for his criminal friends from around the world and shows them the ruby. Mr. Magoo disguises himself as Ortega Peru, a thief from Brazil who never goes anywhere and joins the auction which is taking place in a communal indoor pool. However he is discovered when the fake tattoo on his chest is washed away by the water. Luanne breaks up the auction, steals the ruby, and escapes on a snow mobile away from the lair. The government arrests Austin and his friends while Mr. Magoo gives chase on an ironing board and winds up in the middle of a women’s skiing competition. Waldo and Angus sneak out of the lair, catch up with Magoo, and track down the ruby.

Angus sees Luanne in disguise as an old woman and spills her purse which gives Mr. Magoo and Waldo a clue about where Luanne is going. The Magoos follow Luanne to Brazil where Waldo spies on the real Ortega (Miguel Ferrer) and his friends. Mr. Magoo steals a bride dress from Ortega’s girlfriend Rosita (Monique Rusu) and is led to the wedding. Mr. Magoo steals the ruby from Ortega and finds himself being chased by Peru’s men, the government agents and Luanne. Magoo then is trapped on a raft just before it goes over a waterfall but manages to invert the raft like a parachute so he can gently float to safety. He and Waldo return the ruby to the museum with the government arresting Ortega, Luanne and the people from Brazil.

Mr. Magoo and Angus go home after returning the ruby back to the museum

REVIEW:

A few years ago, there was a channel around here that showed classic cartoons on Saturday mornings. Along with The Archies, Dick Tracy, and The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, there were some short featuring Mr. Magoo. I always would get a chuckle from these shorts and the comic strip, so here’s to hoping that Mr. Magoo will be just as funny.

What is this about?

This live-action comedy adaptation of UPA’s bumbling near-sighted animated character stars Leslie Nielsen. Magoo is a millionaire who refuses to admit that he needs glasses. After accidentally becoming the target in an international manhunt, Magoo continually escapes mishaps by inches.

What did I like?

Animation. To bookend this film, it fades in and out of animated segments. I appreciate this because I’m sure there are those watching this that never saw or even knew there was a cartoon featuring Magoo. I’m also glad they didn’t try to take him from the animated world to the real world. That didn’t work the first they tried it with The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, and it surely wasn’t about to work this time around.

Nielsen ratings. Can you honestly think of anyone who would be a better Magoo than Leslie Nielsen? He’s got the comedic timing, age appropriate, and the voice seems to fit, as well. Nielsen isn’t the perfect Magoo, as i’ll get into later, but he is more than adequate.

Minuteman. About 10 yrs ago, there was a show on ABC Family that only lasted one season starring Matt Keeslar called The Minuteman. Keeslar has that old “aw shucks” pure look that worked for the character of the Minuteman and also for Magoo’s nephew. I also suspect this is why we don’t see more of this guy. He’s perfect for the old throwback/period piece films, though.

What didn’t I like?

Characteristics. Mr. Magoo has always been drawn as a bald, short, old man with comedic vision issues. In this film, he still has said vision problems and is a man of advanced age, but Nielsen is a taller individual and they put him in some sort of receding hairline wig. Like I said earlier, there really isn’t anyone that I can picture better to play Mr. Magoo than Leslie Nielsen, but I feel a little more accuracy would have served the film better.

Garner. This is another of those film that Jennifer Garner appears in a small supporting role. I have to check the timeline, but I believe this was about the time she was just getting started, so it isn’t like she was starring in anything, yet. However, I must make a point of how her character is from an undetermined country, based on her varying accent thickness, and seems to be there only to serve as an eventual love interest for Keeslar’s character. Surely, they could have done something more with her, right?

Make ’em laugh. This is supposed to be a comedy, but I did not find myself even cracking a smile once! That isn’t to say they made Magoo a dark drama, but rather the attempt at humor takes a backseat to this heist caper that I never really bought into. Personally, I think the best parts of the film are when Magoo is just dealing with people around him and being the blind, bumbling old man we know him to be, rather than whatever it is that this film is attempting to make him.

Final verdict on Mr. Magoo. Continuing in the string of movies that were based on popular cartoons/comic strips from the 60s and turned into flops, this does nothing to change the pattern. Why is that? Well, as far as attracting audiences, I can’t tell you. As far as the film itself is concerned, the studios got too involved and turned this into something that it shouldn’t be. Or perhaps the script was this crappy from the get go. Either way, Mr. Magoo deserves much better than this. Do I recommend it? No, unless you’re trying to complete a collection of Leslie Nielsen’s films, this should be one of those forgotten films that just happens to exist. Nothing more, nothing less.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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