THE OOGIELOVES in THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE (2012)
A Satirical Lesson in Writing and the Dangers of Drug Use
By Peter N. Dudar
With Help From Vivian (age 5)
Vivian: Daddy…Daddy, wake up. You promised we could have fun today.
Peter: Gimme a few more minutes, honey. Daddy is still tired.
Vivian: Now, Daddy! You said we could go see THE OOGIELOVES today. C’mon, get up!
Peter: What the hell are THE OOGIELOVES?
(Vivian throws the covers off her dad and drags him out of bed. Daddy chugs down a cup of coffee and then herds the family off to the car to go see the new Matthew Diamond film, THE OOGIELOVES in THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE.)
Peter: You know, I don’t remember promising this. In fact, today was the day I wanted to talk to you about something very important. I wanted to talk to you about the dangers of drug use.
Vivian: What are drugs?
Peter: I’m glad you asked. Drugs are substances used to alter the physical and mental faculties of the human body. For instance…how do you feel right now?
Vivian: I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see this movie.
Peter: Now, you see…grown-ups don’t ever feel that kind of excitement ever, ever, ever. Some adults need a little help to feel that kind of enthusiasm. They need stimulants to maintain that kind of high. I can see by the way you’re shifting around in your car-seat that you’re pretty jacked up. Cokeheads look the same way after they’ve done a few lines. Seeing YOU doing it almost scares me a little. Looks like I’ll just have to grit my teeth and ride this one out. What is this movie about, anyway?
Vivian: It’s the Big Balloon Adventure. It’s Schluufy the Pillow’s birthday, and the Oogieloves have to throw a party for her, but the balloons get all lost and stuff, and they have to rescue the balloons.
Peter: Wait, back up a second. They’re throwing a party for a pillow?
Vivian: Yeah, this is gonna be so great!
Peter: Sounds like the guy who made this movie is on drugs.
(They get to the theater and take their seats. The movie begins, and the Oogieloves come out and explain what we’re about to see. Apparently, this is an interactive movie, and they will cue us for when we are supposed to get out of our seats and dance).
Vivian: Okay, Daddy? When we see the butterflies, we’re supposed to jump up and dance.
Peter: This is such a drag. THE POSSESSION is playing in the theater right next door. Are you sure you don’t want to get up and go sneak in?
Vivian: I want to watch THIS movie!
(In the film, the Oogieloves are beginning their day. J. Edgar, the vacuum cleaner, is some type of adult/authority figure. He’s gone off to get five magic balloons for Schluufy. On the way home, the vacuum accidentally lets the balloons float away. He gets back to the stately Oogielove Manor and tells the three grown-up sized kid puppets of his mishap, so they swear by Odin’s hammer that they will retrieve all five balloons. Okay, I made that last part up.)
Vivian: This is so amazing…I love the music and the colors.
Peter: Yes…this brings us to narcotics and hallucinogens. The natural state of euphoria you’re experiencing is akin to an adult dropping some acid or ingesting some psychedelic shrooms. You may even feel like getting up and dancing. There are other types of drugs…ecstasy, for example, that will make a person lose their inhibitions and just trance out to the music. Those drugs are all very dangerous, and you should never, ever touch them. But here in the theater, it’s groovy. Get up and shake that thing. Daddy’s just gonna sit here and munch on some popcorn.
(The movie continues. Goobie—the genius of the group, Zoozie—the playful sister, and Toofie—the jokester whose pants always seem to fall down at awkward moments, begin their quest for the balloons. They are aided by Windy Window-a magic pane of glass with a hot southern accent, and J. Edgar-the vacuum. Schluufy the Pillow remains sleeping on the couch).
Vivian: Daddy, how come Schluufy never wakes up?
Peter: Well, honey…Schluufy is a metaphor.
Vivian: What’s a metaphor?
Peter: It’s a tool writers use to draw a comparison between fiction and reality. I believe that Schluufy, there, is supposed to symbolize crack babies. See how she lays there like a vegetable? No arms and legs or anything, but still sleeps peacefully with that big, goofy smile? Crack babies are infants that are addicted to drugs because their mommies were users during pregnancy. They do that all day long. That’s why the Oogieloves want to throw a big party for her. They feel bad that she’s so messed up, so they want to be really, really nice to her. Maybe the magic balloons they are off to rescue will restore her brain capacity or give her new legs or something?
Vivian: I still don’t understand.
Peter: Neither do I. Somebody was obviously tripping when they sat down and wrote this.
(The Oogieloves find the first balloon at the top of a tree. The tree boasts a tree house in the shape of a giant teapot. Inside are Dottie (an ancient-looking Cloris Leachman) and her niece, Jubilee (Kylie O’Brien). They go into this whole dance number that gets Vivian out of her seat to dance. Daddy yawns and checks his watch. The song ends, and then Toofie climbs the tree and recovers the first balloon. When he gets to the ground, his pants fall down. Vivian howls in laughter).
Vivian: Did you see that, Daddy? That was so funny!
Peter: Yeah. Hysterical. Which brings us to marijuana. Marijuana, or reefer, contains an active ingredient called THC, which messes with the doohickeys in your brain and makes everything funny as hell. The hilarity you find in Toofie’s pants falling down is childish and stupid. Marijuana makes childish, stupid things seem really, really funny to adults. And it gives you the munchies. Speaking of which, I kinda wish we had some Girl Scout cookies. Ain’t you old enough to be a Girl Scout yet?
Vivian: Shhh…I’m watching the movie.
(The movie continues, and the Oogieloves find themselves in Milky Marvin’s Milkshake Manor. The Oogieloves get caught in a milkshake-drinking contest to win back the second missing balloon. Marvin Milkshake (Chazz Palminteri begins another dance number that is actually the best song in the film. Sadly, I’ve already forgotten how it goes. The Oogieloves’ fish, Ruffy, wins the drink-off, and they escape with the second balloon.)
Vivian: I’m having so much fun. I wish this would never end!
Peter: That sounds like the cry of a heroin junkie. Now, that’s some heavy-duty stuff that you don’t want to mess with. Junkies are the lowest. It’s like throwing all your pride and your hope away. Remember that commercial where the girl breaks an egg open into a hot pan and tells us it’s our brain on heroin? Plus, sharing needles can lead to some really bad blood-diseases. You’ll end up like brainless Schluufy, drooling all over yourself. Do you want that?
Vivian: No, Daddy.
Peter: That’s my good girl.
(The movie continues. The Oogieloves find the third balloon in an airplane hangar where Rosalie Rosebud (Toni Braxton) is ready to embark on her next world-tour. Rosalie is a self-centered diva who trips on her popularity and is addicted to roses, which ironically make her sneeze uncontrollably. She, too, breaks into a dance number, and I really hate this song. But Viv loves it, so I get up for the first time and dance with my daughter. There is only one other family in the theater, and they, too, are up and dancing. Goobie somehow rescues the balloon and the Oogieloves move on.)
Vivian: She really loved her flowers.
Peter: Yes, and that’s called addictive personality disorder. It’s a metaphor for alcohol. Now, alcohol is a depressant. It numbs the senses and makes you a little tired. Rosalie needs her roses to help cheer her up, but, because of her allergies, it’s really bringing her down and destroying her life. You dig?
Vivian: You’re so weird, Daddy.
(The movie continues. Next, they track down the fourth balloon stuck at the top of an 18-wheeler belonging to Bobby Wobbly the Bubble-Blowing Cowboy (played by an unrecognizable Carey Elwes). Bobby Wobbly freakin’ loves bubbles, but he doesn’t understand why people just aren’t into bubbles anymore. Vivian disagrees vehemently and vocally as I just shake my head. There’s no end to this movie. They launch into ANOTHER song and dance, and I get up and join Viv again. It’s either that or fall asleep. This movie is assaulting all my senses, and I’m wishing the movie projector would fall apart or something…)
(After this escapade, the Oogieloves track down the final balloon stuck at the top of a windmill. But the Oogieloves can’t cross the grassy field by foot. Instead, they have to ride to it in a giant sombrero piloted by Lero and Lola Sombrero (Christopher Lloyd and Jaime Pressly). In order to get the giant sombrero to hover across the field, everybody has to dance really, really fast. I’m bummed at watching the great Christopher Lloyd reduced to a one-line cameo and beating on bongos while Lola shakes and dances across the screen. Eventually, they rescue the final balloon, and then it’s back off to Oogieloves Manor for the party.)
Vivian: They did it…they rescued all the magic balloons!
Peter: Big duh! What did you think would happen?
Vivian: Now they can have the party for Schluufy. I’m so happy.
(They wake up Schluufy the Pillow, and sure enough, the damn thing can’t do more than mumble incoherently and coo a lot. But she feels loved and looks happy. The Oogieloves rock out to one last dance number, and then, finally, the film is over.)
Vivian: Did you like the movie, Daddy?
Peter: I found it to be derivative.
Vivian: What does that mean?
Peter: It means that the screenwriter borrowed liberally from other sources. It’s obvious that they stole ideas and concepts from Sesame Street, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, The Teletubbies (and to little surprise, creator Kenn Viselman, actually has production ties to the Teletubbies), and Yo Gabba Gabba. But I did have fun watching YOU have fun, and that, to me, makes the last hour and a half all worthwhile. Did you like it?
Vivian: I loved it. But I’m sad now that it’s over.
Peter: And THAT, dear one, is called coming down. It’s a bummer. We had so much fun and excitement, but it all has to come to an end. But at least we’re not slumped over a toilet bowl and yarking our brains out, so bonus for us!
Vivian: I don’t understand.
Peter: I don’t, either. But let’s just be glad it’s over. How many stars would you give this movie?
Vivian: I give it a hundred zillion, million, billion stars, all the way around the earth and back.
Peter: I give it two. I’m going back to bed now. I have to work tonight.
Vivian: Thank you, Daddy. I love you.
Peter: I love you, too. And remember…drugs are bad. Just say ‘NO’.
© Copyright 2012 by Peter N. Dudar