Mr. Magoo Review

Image for Mr. Magoo

The myopic millionaire defeats jewel smugglers in his usual bumbling manner.


If great comedy comes from pain, then by rights Mr. Magoo should be a masterpiece, because it most certainly is very painful. Leslie Nielsen continues a career trajectory that can only be described as "plummeting", by taking on the live action version of the classic short-sighted cartoon hero.

Jim Backus was the original voice of Magoo, a sort of rambling, mumbling man somewhat hindered by chronic myopia. Which is quite funny for six minutes or so when animated and given to popping up on the telly on the occasional Saturday afternoon but intensely irritating when brought to life and feebly impersonated by Nielsen for the best part of an hour-and-a-half.

The plot, as one might expect given the source material, is suitably half-baked - Mr. Magoo is an opera-singing millionaire who happens to find himself in the possession of a rather large stolen ruby. Being as near-sighted as, well, a really near-sighted person, however, Magoo has no idea he has said gem. He is even more unaware that the FBI, the CIA, the totally wasted Malcolm McDowell or the conniving Lynch are out to get the jewel and, by default, him.

The film's one and only laugh (and it's not an intentional one, either) comes right at the end when the producers display an ass-covering, politically correct disclaimer saying that the film was not intended to offend anyone and that - hey!-the vision-impaired are people too.

Nielsen's performance is truly dreadful, yet somehow it seems strangely fitting for the movie, which is unlikely even to engage the younger audience for whom it is so obviously intended. When even the outtakes you see over the end titles don't raise a single titter, you know you're in trouble.