I expected nothing and yet, somehow, I am still disappointed.
Why do I do this to myself?
Bobbleheads: The Movie sucked. Like that’s a big surprise to anyone.
This movie is the reason people think animation is for little children. Call animation a genre, and not a medium. It gives a bad name to all animated films. It’s just another movie trying to capitalize on the coattails of The LEGO Movie – without understanding what made the film so special in the first place.
Plus, I’m pretty sure I don’t know anyone who actually owns a bobblehead they didn’t get at a baseball stadium for free. And I’m pretty sure kids these days aren’t into bobbleheads.
Call it a hunch.
There is so much I could complain about. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Because I promise, whatever I write will be better than this movie.
The film focuses on a ‘collection’, and I use that term VERY loosely, of three bobbleheads: Ikioi, who is based on a one-issue comic book character; Kelani, based on an in-universe skater; and Purrbles McCat. Not exactly an interesting or diverse group.
They each have precisely one personality trait and don’t exactly get along – due to their conflicting views on “The Bobblehead Creed,” (Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t ask.) When their humans go away on an impromptu vacation, the three must defend the home from the father’s brother Earl and his wife, Binky – who are looking to steal one of them.
Oh, and a Cher bobblehead is in the movie for all of 2 minutes and I still can’t figure out why. Out of all the singers and celebrities to choose from, why would you choose Cher? Do kids even know who Cher is? Why did Cher agree to this? Was she the only one willing to lend her voice to this project? Does the director just really, really like Cher?
I have to know.
The film doesn’t even have a so-bad, it’s funny quality to it. It’s just…bad. I watched the movie at 1.25 speed just so I wouldn’t have to sit through it for as long.
WHY ARE THEY BOBBLEHEADS?
Out of all the items in the world, you could make a movie out of – they chose bobbleheads.
You don’t play with bobbleheads. Nobody I know owns a bobblehead. If they were Funko Pops, at least I would understand why the movie was being made. They would be capitalizing on a current trend and nothing significant about the plot would change. But that would probably require some kind of copyright, wouldn’t it?
There are no generic Funko Pops.
With bobbleheads, you don’t need real characters. Because they’re usually celebrities, or animals, or mascots. Or generic beings.
But the thing is – nothing would change if the Bobbleheads were stuffed animals, baseball cards, or hell fucking collectible stamps. There’s no connection to what they are.
This is the issue all Toy Story or The LEGO Movie knock-offs have, They think being based on a toy is enough – but it isn’t. Both use the fact that their main characters are toys as an integral part of their plot and main theme.
The Toy Story franchise is all about the life-cycle of a toy: What happens when a favorite toy is replaced; what happens when a toy breaks or when somebody outgrows their toys? The movies’ subject matter can’t be changed without changing the entire movie.
That’s good, strong storytelling.
The LEGO Movie is all about LEGOs – the “Master Builders” vs. those who follow the directions, how anyone can enjoy them no matter their age, how there arethere’s a million ways to like them…and it capitalizes on a specific toy that nearly everyone has played with at one time or another, while having a strong following.
I mean it also helps that they also had beloved licensed characters appearing in the movie, but I digress. The movie needs to be about LEGOs. Because that’s what it’s all about.
Bobbleheads: The Movie doesn’t capitalize on its basic premise beyond a few gags and having the characters’ heads constantly wobble, which is honestly VERY annoying to watch. The movie tries to make it seem like humans use bobbleheads like Magic Eight balls and ask questions to get either a nod or a shake of the head. Well, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that.
Have any of you guys heard that? Do any of you actually own bobbleheads? I gotta know.
At least, credit where it’s due – but just barely – the Bobbleheads each have their own design. They’re all hideous to look at and nightmare-inducing but at least they don’t all look the same.
But seriously – why do they even own a bobblehead of a character who appeared in one issue of a comic. Who even makes a bobblehead out of that?
And unlike in Toy Story, all the characters are well aware they’re bobbleheads and not the person or character they’re based off of. And they feel like they have to live up their counterparts.
Which of course means…doing the whole living up to expectations subplot, which is already overdone and not to mention COMPLETELY unnecessary in this case. If they’re bobbleheads and have always known it – why does it matter if they live up to their “prototypes.”
They’re fucking bobbleheads. Not to mention, why are they alive and other toys aren’t? What makes bobbleheads so special?
I DON’T THINK THAT WORD MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS
This brings me to an aspect of the movie that just pisses me off to no end. All the bobbleheads call the people they were based on “prototypes.” I get that you have to do some kind of world-building but why…would you choose the word “prototype?” That’s not what that word means.
It’s confusing! A prototype is the first or preliminary model of a thing. Usually, they don’t work. The “prototypes” in this movie work – they’re the original. Why not just use “original?” It’s simpler and so much clearer.
I was so confused when they first said it and it took a few more times of them bringing it up for me to realize what they meant. Almost any word would be better.
You have a Council of Bobbleheads, and a Bobblehead Creed both of which don’t really make any sense to have in-universe, and it’s unclear where they even learn about these things – but the original counterpart is a “prototype?” How are the Bobbleheads better than the real thing?
The world-building and lore in this film are just absolute bullshit. I don’t know what the rules of this world are or what makes bobbleheads so special or even really what the Bobblehead High Commission does or how it works….It’s just all padding.
What does the Commission do? How does a Bobblehead become a member? Why do they have a spaceship? Why is that specific Cher bobblehead part of the Commission? Are the Commission members sad because they aren’t humans ? I’m just completely confused.
THIS CONFLICT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE
The whole conflict of the movie is based on one of the bobbleheads giving the family the idea to go away for the weekend (despite being on an important work deadline) which allows Earl and his wife to have run of the house.
They want to exchange a baseball bobblehead, Deuce for Purrbles, because they found out Purrbles is one of a kind. The father hasn’t spoken to Earl in years – because after their dad died, Earl sold their dad’s entire bobblehead collection – sans Purrbles, who he thought was just a ‘generic.’
So aside from the fact that this whole set-up is all a coincidence – it brings up so many questions: did the wife really get with Earl just to get her hands on a bobblehead? And her plan is to make thousands of copies of it to sell — like I suppose it should make her look greedy but that would just…be a bad idea. The bobblehead is worth like $10 million — that should be enough for anyone.
Somehow the family is totally unaware of this – and when they do find out – decide not to sell it because it’s their older daughters’ favorite thing. Aside from how unusual that is – for anyone…They got two kids. College is expensive! I’m sure their jobs as roller coaster designers pays well – but surely some stability would be nice.
But I can ignore that part because it’s a kids’ movie.
My biggest question about the movie is…why did they choose this plot when they literally wrote a more interesting plot as a throw-away line?
Having the bobbleheads defend themselves and the house after their human dies – so they won’t get sold and separated by the greedy younger son – is a far more interesting premise, with actual higher stakes. Have it take place during the funeral – with the brother still estranged from the family and knowing nobody else would be home.
But otherwise the plot remains the same – more or less.
I mean I would change how they defend the house, make the characters more interesting and likeable, make it clear from the beginning that Purrbles is the valuable one, rather than having this mystery who the “most valuable” toy is. (Or change it to Ikioi because that would be more interesting in my opinion.)
And I wouldn’t have the family forgive each other. Seriously – he stole his father’s collection and broke into his brother’s home. He’s an asshole! Sure his wife manipulated him a bit but there’s nothing there that implies she was around when he stole the stuff.
But— why did they choose this plot?
Not to mention, the entire conflict also makes no sense because the parents assume their daughter wants to go to a ranch – and tried to “trick them” and they just go…last minute. And again – they’re on a HUGE deadline. They should just go out to lunch or something.
And the fact they’re roller coaster designers only exists so a model coaster can be used in the climax – when that still could have been achieved other ways. But at least, it does give a decent explanation as to why the oldest has no friends.
All the other kids just use her for free theme park tickets and that’s why she hates her parents’ jobs. I can actually buy that. Too bad she doesn’t appear for more than 10 minutes in the entire movie – and the fact she has no friends is the entirety of her character.
When I look at the movie this way, surprisingly, it could have actually been kinda good. Or at least, so bad it’s good. But I’m leaning more towards the former because considering who worked on this film – there’s no excuse for it to be as dull as it is.
Why isn’t this movie better?
The funny thing is, this movie has no reason to suck as much as it does.
It’s not like the people working on it had no idea what they were doing. The director is Kirk Wise; who also directed the U.S. version of Spirited Away as well as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Beauty and the Beast; directed and wrote several episodes of Jimmy Neutron and is responsible for the story of Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
So it’s not like he’s a novice, And it’s not like his movies sucked – on the contrary most of them are pretty well-beloved. It can’t be Tab Murphy who did the story for the movie; his resume isn’t as impressive, but he’s more than competent.
I don’t even think it was screenplay writer Karl Geurs…even though most of his work is of the Barney the Dinosaur variety.
I don’t normally name names in my reviews, I just give them credit but I gotta wonder…this was a fairly competent and successful group of people. They should be able to make a mediocre, if not decent movie.
What the hell went wrong?
The one good thing
There is precisely one good line in this entire movie. And of course, it isn’t said by any of our “protagonists,” if they can be called that.
The line is said by Earl’s wife, Binky. Because she hates her husband, and apparently her best plan to get rich was to marry a guy whose brother owned a one-of-a-kind bobblehead and sell copies of it (like that’s even close to being a viable option) she complains about him. And she gives a really good insult.
“You’re so stupid, you would put stamps on an e-mail.”
Even as far as insults go, this isn’t very high-up there – but at least it’s creative. Whoever came up with that line, I commend you. And I sincerely hope you’re on better projects in the future. You almost made this very long, very boring ride worth it.
I will also give the movie a minor bit of credit in that they did physical comedy with their female antagonist. Usually, it’s guys who get tortured – but it was kinda nice to see a woman hit herself in the boobs rather than getting a guy to himself in the crotch. Though also – just a little disturbing.
Not sure why.
That may be worth examining at some point in the future. But I have enough on my plate right now.
This movie might have actually had potential – and should have been better considering the team they had – but much like 2020, the entire thing was crap partially due to systemic issues inherent in a fucked system and partially due to the wrong people being in charge. I know I said they’re good people but obviously they weren’t the right ones for this film.
At least I know next week’s review will be a good one because I’m planning on reviewing Wolfwalkers and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
So at least there’s that to look forward to.
And that’s the scoop!
Year of release: 2020
Length: 83 minutes
Director: Kirk Wise
Voices: Cher, Jennifer Coolidge, Karen Fukuhara, Grey Griffin, Khary Payton, Julian Sands, Brenda Song, Luke Wilson