Mr. Magoo

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Details At A Glance

Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 83:58 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Stanley Tong

Warner Home Video
Starring Leslie Nielsen
Kelly Lynch
Ernie Hudson
Stephen Tobolowsky
Nick Chinlund
Malcolm McDowell
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Michael Tavera

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1 
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits Yes

Plot Synopsis

    Hollywood seems to have a fascination with turning cartoons into live action movies, despite their generally dismal performance at the box office. Mr. Magoo is yet another such effort, this time from the Disney corporation. The users of the Internet Movie Database have been pretty savage on this movie, rating it a 3.3 out of 10. Is it really that bad? Well, I was expecting the worst, so I approached this movie in a totally brainless frame of mind. Sure it was stupid. Sure it wasn't very funny. Sure it was badly scripted. Sure it was badly acted. Sure it didn't measure up to the cartoon, but in an aimless and noisy sort of way it was very slightly entertaining and I didn't overly mind parking my brain in neutral for 84 minutes.

    There was one thing that really annoyed me, however, and it had the Disney corporate lawyers' stamp all over it. After spending 84 minutes watching the impossibly slapstick, improbable, and clearly cartoonish antics of a clearly unrealistically short-sighted old man, the Disney corporation felt that it was important that we should all be told explicitly that:

    I guess that reflects the American sensibility. Take the mickey out of a nearly blind old guy and then apologize for it.

    The plot (what there is of it) goes as follows. Mr. Magoo (Leslie Nielsen) is inadvertently involved in the theft of a very valuable ruby. Luanne LeSeur (Kelly Lynch) is a sexy, martial arts-trained villainess who actually steals the priceless gem. Via a series of unfortunate co-incidences, the gem ends up in the possession of the hapless and unknowing Mr. Magoo. He is accused of being an accomplice in the crime by the buffoon-like CIA and FBI agents Chuck Stupak (Stephen Tobolowsky) and Gus Anders (Ernie Hudson).

    Naturally, Mr. Magoo loses the gem to Luanne, and to clear the family name he must get it back, with the help of his nephew Waldo (Matt Keesler) and his dog Butch. Also naturally, this involves Mr. Magoo in a series of more and more outlandish and unbelievable situations.

    The fundamental problem with this movie is that Disney have valiantly tried to make a cartoon with live actors, and it just doesn't work. You'd think Hollywood would realize this by now. To make a cartoon translation work in live action, you need to offer something different on-screen, not just attempt to make a live-action cartoon episode. The movie opens with the cartoon Mr. Magoo and then segues into the live action. The instant the cartoon fades, so too does the magic, and it does not return until the very end when the cartoon returns. Strictly a rental, only, folks.

Transfer Quality


    This is generally a very good video transfer which falls short of reference quality because of a few minor problems.

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is generally quite sharp and clear except for a few lapses of focus here and there. There is also some really bad matte work towards the end of the movie (in the river) that look so bad and so unrealistic that they are laughable. The early parts of the movie tended to be a little too dark, but this rapidly improved after the first 10 minutes or so. Shadow detail was generally very good, with lots of fine image gradation in the darker areas of the image, and low level noise was absent from the transfer.

    Colours are crisp, clear and vibrant in keeping with the cartoon-like feel that has clearly been aimed for in this movie.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen at any time during this transfer other than some possible MPEG motion compensation artefacts in the sequence from 28:25 - 30:41, which wobbles vertically in a very unusual fashion. It is possible that this is simply some image wobble inherent in the original print, but in the absence of anything to compare it to, it is difficult to be sure of the cause of this artefact. There was little to no aliasing noted. There was, however, quite a large and distracting film artefact at 4:39, but film artefacts were generally few and far between in this transfer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Grain/MPEG Artefacts
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; English, French and Italian. The English and Italian soundtracks are Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. The French soundtrack, contrary to the packaging, is a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to the default English soundtrack.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand except for a few words here and there from Mr. Magoo. The dialogue was generally poorly integrated into the overall mix, frequently sounding artificial and over-produced. Audio sync was generally OK, with sync wandering marginally in and out during the obviously ADRed dialogue.

    The score by Michael Tavera was frequently present and very whimsical in nature. It is very much an event-driven over-the-top soundtrack, in keeping with the cartoon styling of the rest of the movie. Of all things, this is probably the element of the film that keeps you from totally nodding off, as the frequent orchestral stings provided to accompany the on-screen goings-on act to awaken you somewhat from your torpor.

    The surround channels are frequently used, but only for music. Very rarely, special effects and vocal ambience made their way into the rear channels, but the usual pattern is for the over-the-top sound effects to be placed in the front sound hemisphere only. The net effect of having this nearly constant musical underscore is for the soundtrack to sound more enveloping that it really is.

    The .1 channel was variably used. In some scenes it was moderately heavily used. In others it was silent. Generally, however, it was well-integrated into the overall sound mix.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras.


R4 vs R1

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;     The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;     16x9 enhancement vs Theatrical Trailer? No contest. If you must have this movie, then the Region 4 version of this DVD is the version of choice.


    Mr. Magoo is worth a rental, maybe, if you are really bored. A classic it is not.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
19th June 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Denon DVD-1500/Loewe Xemix 5006 DD, using S-Video/RGB outputs
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video/RGB inputs. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer