Full disclosure: The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure is currently the biggest flop in movie-making history, besting even the legendary bombs Gigli, Heaven’s Gate and the infamous John Carter, a movie that tanked so terribly the head of Walt Disney Studios was removed from his job.
You should also know that The Oogieloves is the best movie of the year.
“Why?,” you might ask incredulously. “What could a kids’ movie have to offer in a world where Moonrise Kingdom and The Dark Knight Rises exist?” Well, it’s just so dense and utterly complex that one must see it for oneself and then spend some time at an ashram meditating in order to properly answer such a nuanced and multifaceted question. I will, however, attempt to scratch the surface.
The Oogieloves captures a scathing snapshot of the post-modern, 21st century zeitgeist so brilliantly in only 80 minutes that for it to be anything but a masterpiece is inconceivable in this little brain of mine.
The story is an earnest one: Goobie, Zoozie and Toofie Oogielove are three fun-loving, nihilistic children’s characters who wish to throw a birthday party for the free-loading pillow, Schluufy, who sleeps on their couch the whole movie (commentary on lazy youth culture?). In order to do so, though, they must get five talking balloons from various locales in whatever universe they occupy, but that’s not important. The story is but a nascent palette of greater truths to be revealed to the audience in due course.
Director Matthew Diamond and producer Kenn Viselman (creator of The Teletubbies) are veritable auteurs of post-modern cinema, and The Oogieloves contains every storytelling device frequented by the likes of authors David Foster Wallace, James Joyce and William Faulkner as well as the uber-cineliterate attributes of Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. He seamlessly incorporates highbrow earnestness with lowbrow cynicism, unreliable narrators with questionable motives, a pastiche of styles from the 40s, 70s and 90s, and an eye for unusual but effective casting. It speaks volumes to Diamond’s sense of humor and uncanny ability for irony, something horribly lost on many modern movies, that six-time Grammy winner Toni Braxton, eight-time Emmy winner Cloris Leachman and film icon, Christopher Lloyd, all make substantial appearances in unforgettably gripping roles in this film.
The Oogieloves is not without substance to underpin its style, however. It contains symbolic allusions to homosexuality and checkered American history in the effervescent performance by the vacuum character, J. Edgar; Grandma Dotty’s (Leachman) very presence is a loving hate letter to Dadaism and the severe lack of Oedipal allegories in contemporary fiction; the entire Milky Marvin’s Milkshake Manor sequence is a bleakly unsettling representation of drug culture befitting of a Bret Easton Ellis novel and the jarring finale of the whole thing serves as a reminder of the cosmic insignificance of the human race, dispensing with niceties and taking no prisoners along the way.
The icing on the proverbial cake (which may or may not be a metaphor for human desires, still figuring that one out) is the director’s frequent and unforgiving breaking of the fourth wall. For mantras, songs, hidden details. Who cares? Terrence Malick flirts only briefly with character-audience interaction with regular use of voice-over narration in his movies, but Malick is far too Hollywood to go near the sort of boundary-crossing techniques employed by Diamond, who was inspired by fellow artiste, Tyler Perry, whose film Madea Goes to Jail allowed for the audience to shout out advice to Madea whenever she got into more trouble.
The depth and scope of The Oogieloves is truly unprecedented, and anyone who claims to understand this film is either lying or a savant. Do yourself a favor and give up on your dreams of becoming a big-shot movie director, because Diamond is going to put all of them out of business. Score: 10/10
Kyle Dunn / Editor in Chief