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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Coming Up: The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure

I mentioned recently that I was going to the BlogHer. At the conference I sat in on a session put on by the creators of the Oogieloves, a new movie coming out on August 29 (or Oogust 29th as they say, though writing that makes me wince).

This is the biggest independent release of a G rated movie ever, opening up in 3,200 screens nationally (and internationally next March). And though independent, it's got a great cast, including Toni Braxton, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Lloyd, and Jamie Pressley.

One of the creators, Kenn Viselman, is the man who brought the Teletubbies to PBS, and is responsible for the mass merchandise marketing of Thomas the Train and Eloise. To say that he's a quirky guy with an oversized ego (and bank account) is an understatement. He also has no qualms saying he wants to get very rich AND make very the best G-rated family entertainment. So far, he's done both.

Okay, so excuse my cynical nature. The movie he's created DOES seem to be quite different than what's already out there. How? The movie (which is not in 3-D because he's seen that kids don't like the glasses) gives auditory and visual cues for the kids to get up and dance and sing during the movie. He wants the kids moving around. "I want people to sing and dance, though you're not obligated to do so," he said. The movie also has sign language in it, for those who need it.

The producers have given the movie a triple G (GGG) rating to show that it's purely kid-friendly. There are no deaths. There are no dark moments like in Disney movies. There's no violence (slapping, hitting etc.). "It's just loving, joyful," he says.

They're working with the Let's Move organization to inspire kids and parents to be more active. And apparently the Oogieloves website will make you listen to (and hopefully move to) a short video after clicking on 5 pages of the website. I tried, and it never came up. The website has a lot for kids to do, including some printables, songs and videos, and a meet the characters area.

From a parental perspective, the characters look and sound just about as annoying as Teletubbies. They're life-size different color characters with human-type eyes (a lot of time spent figuring those out by the producers), and they interact with regular humans.

That said, two parents in the audience took their kids to the movie for an early screening, and loved it. The kids (who were as young as 2), were entranced, but also figured out what to do and were actively dancing during the show. The mothers both said how much their kids loved it and how pure and innocent the story was. The movie is almost 90 minutes long. They said their older kids enjoyed it too.

Unfortunately I'm not able to make the media screening later this week, but I did see a few scenes at the presentation and the music was upbeat and catchy. When you see it, please come back and leave comments on what you thought! Apparently the major studios are all watching this release to see if something so innocent and active will make money. If it does, maybe more movies like this will come out.

The Oogieloves producers are committed to the project, and have another Oogieloves movie coming out over Labor Day 2013, and a third in 2013.

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