13 September 2008 | D_Burke
Sorry Berkeley, But I Liked This Film A Lot
I know from reading an interview with Berkeley Breathed that he didn't like this TV special. He didn't explain exactly why, although being as familiar with "Bloom County" and its various spin off comics over the years as I am, I can guess as to why. Still, I don't know exactly.
It may have been because this TV special was marketed specifically toward younger audiences, whereas "Bloom County" is traditionally not for kids. Then again, this special was made in conjunction with a picture book Breathed wrote specifically for kids, so I really don't know what Berkeley's beef was.
I haven't read the book on which this film is based, but I liked it just the same. The TV special successfully walked the fine line between Berkeley Breathed's usual adult humor on politics and pop culture, and other cute-sy Christmas specials like "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer". It was a smart movie that, in my opinion, doesn't alienate kids, while being a good piece of holiday eye candy with a lot of heart to it which doesn't repulse adults. For that reason, I'm glad they finally decided to release this movie on DVD.
Based on my understanding of the "Bloom County" universe, Opus the penguin doesn't get dumbed down in this cartoon. The basic plot of the movie is his insecurity with himself in being that his beak is too big, and he can't fly. That predicament appears to match his comic persona to a T, and it gave the story heart while not being too mushy. Added to Bill the Cat (who needs no dumbing down, since he's as dumb as one can get anyway) and his slapstick antics, the two characters just made this movie work.
If I had one complaint about this special, it's that it wasn't long enough. I'm sure since it was made-for-TV, they had to cut it down significantly for air time. It showed too, since the ending was a bit flatter than it should have been, perhaps as if the makers of this special were in a hurry to get it out before the next Christmas.
Other than that, the movie was fine. Breathed's contempt for the finished product is very similar to Stephen King's dissatisfaction with Stanley Kubrick's take on "The Shining". Breathed mentioned that he did want to bring Opus to the big screen and present him the way he should be. Until then, though, "A Wish For Wings That Work" is a better starting point than Breathed thinks. Thanks to the recent DVD release, this film just may get the cult attention it deserves. So Mr. Breathed, if you're reading this, don't be ashamed of this movie. It's very good, and I highly recommend it for the holiday season, or anytime for that matter.