Even at a slight 77 minutes, this animated feature stretches its story painfully thin. In short bursts on the Disney Channel or weekend telly, Doug Funnie is indeed reasonably funny. But his first big-screen adventure is far too flimsy to engage adults and, judging by the placid reaction of the kiddie screening audience, it's not exactly enthralling for tots either.
The Rugrats' movie succeeded where Doug fails because it was packed with great characters and subplots. All those over-imaginative tykes running around made it as busy and bustling as the shorter TV version. But this has just a couple of major protagonists (Doug himself and his best mate Skeeter), a few more hovering on the sidelines and only one storyline.
The style of the animation doesn't help, either. The drawings are deliberately two-dimensional and sketchy, with broad washes of colour and little background detail. Again, it's something you can get away with on a small screen which is being watched through bleary Saturday morning eyes. But when you have a giant multiplex canvas to fill, it calls more for the rich, epic lushness of Mulan or The Prince Of Egypt. Especially when the cartoon is a Disney offering.
Another problem is that the story also displays a grating right-on attitude towards the environment, as illustrated by a bubbling polluted lake that'll leave even little kids with no doubt that pollution is a Bad Thing, as if they didn't know already.
Admittedly Doug is a likeable, modestly engaging little chap. And, if there's a shortage of support characters, then at least the ones who are included (a brattish rich bitch and a slimy rival for Patti's affections) are amusing. In the end, though, this TV 'toon adaptation is too undernourished to survive long at multiplexes. Doug's 1st Movie? Most probably also his last.
The Simpsons is a more sophisticated option for adults. The Rugrats are a more colourful bunch for kids. Doug is fine in shorter bursts on the small screen, but his 1st Movie is sketchy, preachy and way too thin.