Sunday, August 06, 2006

Movie Review: Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman (DVD)

U.S. Release Date: 7/25/06 (DVD)
Running Time: 1:25
Rated: NR (Family Approved)
Cast: William H. Macy, Frankie Muniz, Lacey Chabert, Daryl Sabara, Felicity Huffman

Director: Bob Doucette
Producers: Michelle Crames, Jeff Norton
Screenplay: Shawn Tanaka, Douglas Wood (based on the book by R.A. Montgomery)
Studio: Goldhil Entertainment

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The words “Choose Your Own Adventure” recall an array of childhood memories.

After pacing down the aisles of the musty school library and looking over the titles, it was always easy to be drawn to an R.A. Montgomery novel. Why? Well, for starters, those cheesy-sounding titles and creepy-looking illustrations were nearly enough, but the ability to choose your own path of reading was always the determining factor.

Within the realm of juvenile entertainment, the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series is legendary; and, in today’s free society, choice is paramount. By granting this generation’s pre-teens the capacity to pick their own cinematic plots via DVD remote, the C.Y.O.A. publishers are certainly doing their part in keeping up with the times. The result is an entertaining DVD that is notable in its structure, yet flat and childish in its content.

The three North kids (Ben [Frankie Muniz], Crista [Lacey Chabert], and Marco [Daryl Sabara]) venture to Kathmandu, Nepal to save their exploring Uncle Rudy (William H. Macy). Uncle Rudy’s obsession with the abominable snowman has placed him in quite a pickle and in need of rescue.

The first interactive decision arrives when the kids’ plane experiences turbulence. At this point, you must choose to parachute from the diving aircraft or attempt to land the plane safely. From here, a web of choices must be decided upon—leading up to one of 13 different endings. The best of which explain the origins of the yeti, while the worst of which end abruptly in ill fate (or even depict a despicable sponsorship by Life cereal).

To say that Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman is suitable for all ages would be a boldfaced lie. The DVD appeals far more to the kiddy crowd than that of the adventure-thirsty grown-up segment. It’s well enough for the young, but too full of immature puns and wisecracks for the average movie veteran.

Furthermore, the film’s option of choice is its only real asset. Place this cinematic freewill in the palms of a viewer of a live-action film, and you may have something; give the children the privilege to create their own cartoon, and the only fun achieved is in the hokey humor and the power of pre-pubescent autonomy. While this may be the future of take-home entertainment, this time around, it’s not done right. Don’t get me wrong: choosing your own interactive adventure is a fresh concept; yet, The Abominable Snowman is only a glimmer of the potential that this type of media can muster.

While this may be recommended fun for any pre-teen, The Abominable Snowman is nothing more than a substandard cartoon escapade that is too afraid of scaring its audience with a fierce villain. Much like the yeti that this film depicts, this groundbreaking DVD will either be a “ginourmous” gimmick (rarely visible to the human eye) or merely an overly-publicized story spread by word-of-mouth. (** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2006