Directed by Marc F. Adler, Jason Maurer. Voices by Freddie Prinze Jr., Val Kilmer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Anne Bancroft, Chris Kattan, Louis Gossett Jr., Eric Idle, Kelly Ripa, Michael Clarke Duncan, Burt Reynolds, Malcolm McDowell, Sally Kellerman. (2008, PG, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 12, 2008
You would think a lusciously animated indie film about the perils of prejudice and imperialism would go off like a firecracker in this season of political and cultural change, but sadly, Delgo is a dud. Don't blame the animators, though. A kaleidoscopic treat for the eyes, Delgo fairly leaps off the screen and slathers the audience with its candy-colored palette of extremely attractive visuals. It's like a Tootsie Pop in that regard, all shiny, sticky, and delicious, but once you get to its bland brown center (coming, as it does, after way too many metaphorical licks), you're likely to be disappointed by what is essentially a wad of less-than-sensational CGI treacle. As the brief, well-edited prologue informs, Delgo (voiced by Prinze Jr.) is a young, headstrong member of the Lockni race, a peaceful people in the land of Jhamora who resemble Land of the Lost's Sleestacks but act more like that movie's Chaka on a no-hair day. Enter the Nohrin, the winged warrior race whose own land has become uninhabitable. The Nohrins' sage King Zahn (voiced by Gossett Jr.) brokers a deal with the Lockni for his people to share the Lockni's fertile Eden, but that lasts only until his evil daughter Sedessa (voiced by Bancroft) micromanages a plot to make it appear as though Delgo and his knucklehead pal Filo (voiced by Kattan, mining a heretofore untapped vein of Jar Jar Binks-speak) have attacked the Nohrin Princess Kyla (Hewitt), thus sparking a power-grab and potential interracial war. (It should go without saying to anyone over the age of 5 that Delgo and the Princess strike their own hormonal sparks.) Delgo's chief melodramatic template appears to be Star Wars, not in itself a bad thing, but the lifts from Lucasfilm are so brazen – Duncan's peaceful mystic character might as well be named Obi-Wannabe – that they render the whole film inert by the thoroughly telegraphed outcome. Princesses and paupers (or serfs, vassals, or whatever the Lockni may be) are alike throughout the omniverse, apparently, and while the very young may get a kick out of Delgo's trippy color scheme, the rest of the scheming here is strictly cloned from other, infinitely more interesting wars.