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IN SHORT: Needed: one 10 year old boy to explain it to the parental units.
Nah, it's not as bad as all that . . .
Long time readers already know that Cranky is a toonhead. Looney Tunes or long format, Disney/Pixar or the long ago Bakshi/Heavy Metal deal, we'll sit. We have cels on our home walls and thousands of WB shorts and dozens of Disney films on DVD. That's proper background.
There is the notion in our culture, though, that if a film is animated it is automatically a family film. Most of them are. Delgo tries hard to be but in the first five minutes . . .
The people called "Nohrin" are flyers. Without enough food in the sky they have come to dwell on the ground with a welcome from the terrestrial Lockni. The evil Nohrin Princess Sedessa (Anne Bancroft), using a cup of poisonous fuming stuff, murders her sister-in-law and attempts to do the same to her brother, King Zahn (Lou Gossett, Jr.) and newborn princess Kyla. It is only the wail of the baby wakes the King and saves the day. Sedessa is convicted of treason. Both pairs of her wings are chopped off and she is sent into exile. . .
This is the first five minutes. Yes, all the violence is off screen but kids are not dummies. This is not a film to bring single digit kidlets to. (unless, of course, that we're so much of an old fart that we haven't seen society change that much.) Once over that hurdle, though, Delgo is not a bad story.
What of the title character? Delgo (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is a fifteen year old Lockni boy who, with his best friend Filo (Chris Kattan) is apt to get into all sorts of mischief. As his story begins, said mischief ends with Delgo falling off a cliff -- with only a well placed tree branch to save the day. While Filo flubs about trying to save his friend, help comes from an unexpected source. She is Kyla. She is a flyer. She is also princess of the Nohrin and her protective guards are none too happy about her associating with the Lockni kids. Kyla is hustled back to her home. Delgo gets a beat down. In the midst of all this action, Kyla loses a broach; her only inheritance from a deceased mom. Long story short, Delgo will find the broach for her and a strong friendship is formed.
From here on out the story turns to one of politics and betrayal. Sedessa has lured one important military man -- Colonel Raius (Malcolm McDowell) who helps bring about the downfall of his superior, General Bogardus (Val Kilmer), thanks to said general's gambling problem. With Bogardus imprisoned, Raius engineers the kidnapping of princess Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt), and the framing of Delgo and Filo for said kidnapping. In jail, the boys and the General form an uneasy alliance of land and air based forms who must escape jail and make a last minute attempt to save Kyla, avert war and restore peace between the people of Nohrin and Lockni.
Well, they try. Before they can escape, war is declared. Sedessa waits for her engineered coup to place her back on the throne.
Well, you can guess what comes next. It is accompanied by the most spectacular animation in the film, a great relief since the earlier material appeared to us to be a bit clunky. Our eyes see things that you probably won't so, it probably doesn't matter. Point being, once it gets its feet, Delgo becomes a fairly good adventure/battle 'toon.
Even more impressive is the cast of top name actors voicing supporting parts. In addition to those already mentioned add Michael Clarke Duncan, as the Elder of the Lockni called Marley who raised Delgo after the murder of his father (Burt Reynolds). On Sedessa's side of the coin is the comic relief; an incompetent assistant called Spig (Eric Idle) and a handmaiden (Kelly Ripa).
We don't put dollar ratings on family animations. We will give a thumbs up, repeating the warning that we don't feel this film is appropriate for single digit kidlets due to the violence -- there's enough murder in the first two minutes that even we were thrown for a bit.
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