Dudley Do-Right

             After he proved so sweetly winning as George of the Jungle in that
     live-action version of the popular cartoon, Brendan Fraser was an inspired
     choice to embody another of Jay Ward's animated characters, the Royal
     Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right. In interviews, Fraser had often spoken
     of his grandfather who was in the Mounties and this was a chance for the
     lantern-jawed actor to pay homage to his fore bearer. Since he had already
     demonstrated his comic panache as the vine-swinging George, the idea of
     him as Dudley sparked high expectations. Factor in Alfred Molina as the
     villainous Snidely Whiplash and Sarah Jessica Parker as Nell Fenwick and
     for what more could you ask. Well, truthfully, a decent script and a good
     director, both of which this version of
Dudley Do-Right are woefully lacking.

             In a scant 77 minutes, helmer Hugh Wilson trashes the memories
     of those baby boomers who grew up on the cartoon. Wilson primarily made
     his mark in television (
"Frank's Place") and in features with the Police
films. (His  Guarding Tess, while somewhat sitcomish, is
     probably his best film but a great deal of the credit there goes to stars
     Shirley MacLaine and Nicolas Cage.)

             There are two basic problems with this live-action version of
       Dudley Do-Right
, the lack of a consistent tone (it veers from slapstick
     to groan-inducing puns to mild comedy) and a badly chosen idea to have
     Dudley drummed out of the Mounties and remake his image by riding a
     Harley and donned black leather. (Not that Fraser doesn't look good in that
     garb, but it ain't true to the spirit of the cartoon.) Given those constraints,
     Fraser does what he can with the role, attempting to maintain the "gee
     whiz", slightly dopey earnestness of the character. Molina was an inspired
     choice to play Snidely and almost pulls it off, but he too is saddled with
     an inconsistent character.

             And poor Sarah Jessica Parker is virtually wasted as Nell who can't
     seem to decide whether she loves the upright Dudley or the rich but sinister
     Snidely. Of the supporting cast, Alex Rocco plays the chief of the Kumquat
     Nation as a Brooklynese gangster with dialogue that is far from politically
     correct and Eric Idle turns up as a grimy prospector who counsels Dudley.
     I suspect that very young children might find the antics amusing, but older
     kids and their parents who harbor memories of the original cartoons will be
     severely disappointed. The less said, the better.

             Playing with the film is a new short
Fractured Fairy Tales: The Phox,
       the Box and the Lox
, an amusing parable about a wily fox who tricks a
     dumb local into opening a locked box which contains a hidden treasure. Its
     three minutes possesses all the wit and imagination that
Dudley lacks.

                                             Rating:     D
                                             MPAA:      PG
© 2007 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.