Monday, January 26, 2015

DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp

3/4

Starring (voices): Alan Young, Russi Taylor, Rip Taylor, Richard Libertini, Christopher Lloyd

Rated G

Boy, this takes me back.  I remember popping this movie in the VCR (yes, I was alive when everyone used VCRs) and sitting back to watch this longer adventure of Scrooge McDuck and his newphews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and his niece Webby.  I also devoured the TV series (the episodes that my mom would buy for me).  So, the question is, does the movie still hold up now after 20 years?

Sort of.  It doesn't enchant like it did when I was a grade schooler, but it does still entertain.  There's some good humor here, and high spirited adventure.  Kids will like it more, but at least the adults won't be bored out of their minds.

Scrooge McDuck (Young), the miserly, greedy duck who apparently has more money than the GDP of the entire planet, is on another adventure with his family.  He's spent 40 years looking for the treasure of Collie Baba, and thinks he's finally found it.  After a seeming dead end, they find a map that leads them to the real treasure.  Unfortunately, their guide, a weasel named Dijon (Libertini), has been secretly working for a malevolent figure named Merlock (Lloyd), who wants a specific piece of treasure, and has been waiting centuries to get it.  Dijon and Merlock send the Duck family to their doom, but the quick thinking Ducks rise to the occasion.  Disheartened, Scrooge returns to Duckburg empty handed...or so he thinks.  The worthless lamp that Webby (Taylor) took with her is actually a magic lamp with a genie (Taylor) inside.  The triplets (Taylor) and Webby make selfish wishes while trying to keep it a secret from Uncle Scrooge.  But it's only a matter of time before Dijon and Merlock find the lamp, something that terrifies the genie.

The voice acting is uninspired.  All do their jobs, but no one really stands out.  Alan Young ably brings out all sides of the cantankerous but kindly Scrooge.  Russi Taylor can get a little annoying as the kids, but not really.  Rip Taylor is the scene stealer as the genie, who is called Gene.  He has some of the best lines and delivers them perfectly.  Christopher Lloyd lacks the gravitas of, say, Vincent Price or Boris Karloff, but he's still a more than threatening villain.  As Dijon, Richard Libertini does little to hide the fact that his character is a crude stereotype of Arab men, but such a connection will escape every kid (and most adults).

The story may be a little on the thin side, but it does some interesting things with the premise.  For one thing, Genie points out the selfishness or ridiculous nature of some of the wishes (Webby's first wish is for a baby elephant...guess how well that turns out!) with some great one-liners.  Unfortunately, if someone makes a wish, he has no choice but to follow it, which is why he's so terrified of Merlock.  Plus the final third has some neat twists that I wasn't expecting.

Look, Miyazaki it's not.  Nor is it "Raiders of the Lost Ark."  But even though the dialogue is thin and the film is a little padded (even at a very skinny 74 minutes), and the animation is clunky, it's still fun for the whole family.  And you really can't ask for more than that with a movie like this.

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