Stellar Voice Cast Adds to Magic of Animated Doogal

There is a legend that tells of three magic stones, which if used for ill could be combined t o create a force so powerful that it could freeze the sun! When the evil sorcerer Zeebad (voiced by John Stewart) escapes from his ancient prison, he vows to wreak havoc on the world by icing over the planet. The only one who can stop him is an unlikely fellowship of friends led by an intrepid fur ball of a dog named Doogal. Such is the outline of this "new" animated film, which is actually a reworking of a British TV show called The Magic Roundabout.

The movie's executive producer and co-writer, Butch Hartman, who created Nickelodeon's The Fairly Odd Parents, explains the Americanization of the story: "No one here knows that a roundabout is a merry-go-round, so we had to change that, and the dialogue was also particular to an English audience, so we rewrote the whole thing so the humor and everything would work for audiences here." "Doogal is a loveable, very hairy little dog, sort of like a mop with no stick," he chuckles. "His love of candy propels a candy cart to crash into this magic merry-go-round, which frees Zeebad. The sorcerer then traps Doogal's master, Florence, and a bunch of other kids inside the merry-go-round, and sets off to take revenge on the world, so only Doogal can stop him."

Hartman, who is the father of two girls, ages 8 and 10, swears the film works for kids. "I just showed it to my daughters, who are not shy about letting me know if they don't like something, and they found it very funny and really liked it," he says.

The computer-generated animation was all done in Europe prior to Butch's involvement, but he thinks it captures the feel of a quest. The target age range for the film is from about 6 to 11 years old, and Hartman notes that "there is stuff in there for everyone - parents, grandparents and even the family dog!"

Voices of other characters are supplied by an A-list cast including Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Chevy Chase, Whoopi Goldberg and Daniel Tay. The film is rated G.

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- Philip Murphy