In The IMDB.O. List, ScreenCrush editor-in-chief Matt Singer watches every single movie on the Internet Movie Database’s Lowest Rated Movies list to determine whether they truly are the worst movies ever made. Previous chapters can be found here.
Movie #2: The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (2012)
Director: Matthew Diamond
Writer: Scott Stabile
Release Date: August 29, 2012
U.S. box office: $1.0 million
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 27 percent
Metacritic score: 32
Letterboxd average grade: 1.4
IMDb Bottom 100 Ranking: 100
Is This Movie Bad?
Bad is too kind a word for what this movie is.
How Bad Is It?
That’s a talking vacuum cleaner named J. Edgar (get it?) in the picture above. In other words, it is very terrible.
This is not a simple matter of The Oogieloves being silly children’s entertainment and me being (physically, if not mentally or emotionally) an adult. I watch a lot of kids movies and TV shows with my older daughter. A few of them are great, some are good, and most fall somewhere between watchable and meh. None I have encountered to date are anywhere near as bad as The Oogieloves. I didn’t just hate this movie. I oogiehated it.
The film was supposedly developed by one of the minds behind Teletubbies and there are some superficial similarities between the concepts, like performers in garish costumes and lots of singing and dancing. But Teletubbies, even at its worst, never reached the cloying depths of the Oogieloves and their wretched songs, bizarre jokes, and desperate attempts to launch catchphrases. (Toofie, the “cool” Oogielove, likes to scream “Adventurize!” for no reason in particular.) Throughout, there are bursts of canned laughter and applause on the soundtrack, presumably to drown out the real audience’s futile cries for mercy.
Toofie and his felt-covered compatriots Goobie and Zoozie spend their Big Balloon Adventure looking for five magic balloons that they need in order to throw Schluufy, their sentient pillow/unholy abomination unto God, a birthday party. The Oogieloves also carry around a talking fish named Ruffy, who hangs out in a fishbowl with no water, I guess because the Oogieloves are slowly murdering this poor creature for kicks.
It is hard to imagine a less visually appealing creature than an Oogielove. They have giant heads, bulbous midsections, and freakish, Popeye-like forearms. The costumes don’t quite fit, so excess “skin” around their necks and various joints hangs and folds in weird ways. I’m not sure what The Oogieloves’ budget was, but it was not up to the task of creating convincing, attractive costumes. If you told me these were thrown together in an hour at a low-rent craft store, I would believe you. The Oogieloves look like a disguise a kidnapper would create to trick a child into an unmarked van.
Even the “educational” elements of the movie are misguided. There’s a song about how to climb a ladder. Why are we teaching preschoolers to climb ladders in the first place?!? Another recurring gag involves Toofie’s pants repeatedly (repeatedly) falling down while the other Oogieloves shout “Goofy Toofie, pick up your pants!” It’s important to teach young children not to drop their pants in public but turning it into a wacky joke probably has the opposite effect.
The Oogieloves’ quest for the magical balloons introduces several surprisingly famous guest stars for a series of one-scene cameos. Chazz Palminteri plays the owner of a milkshake joint. Cloris Leachman is a woman who loves circles. Cary Elwes shows up as bubble enthusiast named Bobby Wobbly. Jaime Pressly plays a flamenco dancer with an affected Latino accent that would definitely not fly in 2018. (The Oogieloves: Not woke.) The fact that all these talented people look like they’re having fun dancing with these fluffy monstrosities is a testament to their tremendous skills as actors.
Whenever the Oogieloves start singing a graphic pops up onscreen instructing the viewer to get out of their seat and dance; when they’re done, another tells you it’s okay to sit down again. (Thanks for your permission to sit in my seat, The Oogieloves.) Though designed to encourage audience participation, these little prompts work better as evidence that the people who made The Oogieloves had zero faith in their product and in their audience, and assumed they had to literally be told what to do, when to do it, and why.
It boggles my mind that IMDb users ranked The Oogieloves the 100th worst movie of all time. How could there possibly 99 movies worse than this one? If that’s true, writing this column may actually kill me. I have to assume it’s so low on the list because the film is so obviously bad that very few people have ever sat through it — and even fewer have survived to talk about.
Does It Belong On a List of the Worst Movies Ever Made?
Put it this way: If I ever allow my child to watch this movie under any circumstances, you have my permission to call Child Protective Services on me.
The Oogieloves is currently streaming for subscribers on Hulu. Please remember that your time on this planet is short and precious before you click that link. Next time on The IMDB.O. List: I find out what it takes to become (or at least endure) a master of disguise.
My Personal Ranking of the IMDB.O. List So Far (Original Ranking in Parenthesis):
- The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (100)
- The Avengers (69)
Gallery – The Worst Movie Posters Ever Made: