After the critical and financial disaster that was Randall Miller’s Nobel Son—which got dumped into theaters last week and has already evaporated from local cinemas—its distributor, Freestyle Releasing, has decided to outdo itself by foisting Delgo upon the world.
In production for nine years and apparently floundering in distribution limbo for the past five, it’s easy to see why Delgo has had such a difficult time finding its way into multiplexes. It’s not so much that Delgo is a bad movie, though it is. Really, its worst aspect is its utter pointlessness. The film is uninteresting and rife with clichés to the point that it’s not even worth the price of electricity used to run the projector. In most cases, movies, unlike fine wines, do not age well after festering somewhere on a shelf. If animated films were wines, however, Delgo would probably amount to a four-pack of Bartles & Jaymes.
Delgo is what happens when a game of Dungeons and Dragons gets made into a movie, as directors Marc F. Adler and Jason Maurer attempt to transport the audience to the mystical realm of Jhamora (which, when spoken, sounds a lot like Gomorrah, but we won’t get into that). It’s a land full of flying turtle things, magical floating rocks and lizard people with the fashion sense of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. It would seem these lizard people—called Lockni—are enemies with some other race of creatures—called the Nohrin—who fly around with insect wings. The evil, exiled Nohrin Sedessa (Anne Bancroft in her final role before passing away in 2005) is trying to bring everyone to war so she can move in and become the new ruler.
That’s the gist of the plot, with our hero Delgo (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and his comic-relief sidekick Filo (Chris Kattan at his most obnoxiously screechy), both Locknis, attempting to rescue Delgo’s winged-love interest (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and put an end to the villainous Sedessa’s various evildoings. All of it’s a hodgepodge of fantasy platitudes lifted from Star Wars and the like, complete with all the high-flying adventure that entails. Maybe it’s just because I can’t take the film’s wisecracking, angst-ridden hero seriously in purple stretch pants and leg warmers, but the movie is about as epic and electrifying as going to the Laundromat.
In many ways, the movie’s only use is as a time capsule to the innocent and distant days of the turn of the century, when members of its voice cast were vaguely famous actors. Want to remember the days when Prinze Jr. and Hewitt sort of had acting careers? (I know there’s at least one of you who does.) Want a reminder why Kattan should never be allowed in movies or public places? Then have I got a movie for you.
Because of Delgo’s long shelf life, the animation is terribly dated, making the movie feel like 90 minutes of video-game cut scene. Since there’s nothing here for the most die-hard of animation fans, the debatable appeal is strictly for really indiscriminate tots. But if you insist on watching this, do it quickly, because after its monumental tanking at the box office this past weekend, it staying around much longer is unlikely. Rated PG for sequences of fantasy-action violence.