"Delgo" is yet more proof that not everyone with access to the tools and talent pool to make an animated film should be allowed to. It's a focus-group film, from its all-star voice cast (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Burt Reynolds) to its mash-up of a plot and "cuddly" critters acting it out.
The animation's not bad. But the staggeringly complicated Tolkien-C.S. Lewis setting, the reptilian leads and the faded fairy-tale plot skewer poor "Delgo" before we have a chance to figure out what's going on here and why.
The title character (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is a tall, thin Lockni lad, a mod dinosaurish dude with an inexpressive face and ears that only a Lockni mom could love. He lives in a land where his people invited the homeless Nohrin to stay after they'd ruined their own country. Treachery rules the day as the Nohrin, decades on the ground, seek to seize control over peaceful Jhamora.
Hewitt is the winged Nohrin Princess Kyla, who is smitten by the boy who cannot fly. Malcolm McDowell and Val Kilmer voice competing generals, Chris Kattan and Eric Idle do comic relief, with Idle as a limp Mr. Malaprop: "He seems a tad irrigated."
Michael Clarke Duncan is the Obi Wan who teaches Delgo how to master the magic stones. Did I mention there are magic stones? Never mind.
"Connect with the stone, Delgo, feel its pulse. CONTROL the stones."
The staggering amount of backstory doesn't make the climax any more climactic. The winged Nohrin battle the Lockni, who mount huge winged dinosaurs whom they ride into combat as the factions fight it out for control of this Dinotopia.
Boy dino and girl dino flirt, fight and rescue one another from the villains. The Anne Bancroft (she died in June 2005) voiced the vampy, seditious Sedessa, who loses her wings in a failed coup, but who lives to scheme and vamp another day.
With dinosaurs and magic stones and computer animation, "this has everything," the filmmakers must have declared to potential investors. But if there's a lesson recent Hollywood history has taught us, it's that not every cut-rate animation that comes along finds an audience, and not many of them deserve one. *