By Brad Wilke | October 12, 2008

Everybody has to pay the bills. That was the reason I originally posited for why some of the big names on the dvd box agreed to appear in this movie. That’s not to say that Chris Lackey’s animated film “The Chosen One” is bad. It’s just not very good… by mainstream Hollywood animated film standards. The characters are one dimensional, many of the jokes fall flat, and the animation is up to television commercial standards, at best.

But then I did a little research and discovered that Chris did all of the animation with Adobe Flash in his Los Angeles-area apartment. And when it was done, he proceeded to hustle the script to the actors whose names are listed on the box, which is how their names got there. So maybe there was more to this movie than I originally thought…

Which raised an interesting question as I began to write this review.

To wit: To what extent does (or should) the backstory of a film influence our assessment of what we see on screen? Additionally, does seeing the film with a receptive festival audience increase the likelihood that you will enjoy it? Or, does seeing the film alone in your living room make you a tougher critic, especially for a comedy?

Personally, I would answer yes, yes and no, respectively. But I’d like to hear what you think, so if you have an opinion, I invite you to post it in the comment section below this review.

As for “The Chosen One,” think of it as “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” for the slacker generation.

Lou, the titular character (voiced by co-writer Chad Fifer), can’t seem to do anything right. Unable to accomplish even the simplest tasks without screwing them up (forget about the complex ones), Lou is in a bit of a quarter-life tailspin. When he is dumped by his girlfriend Rachel (Laura Prepon), he hits rock bottom. Thankfully, he happens to wander into a church where he discovers that he is, in fact, the Chosen One and must now travel to Kansas in order to save the world from imminent destruction.

Setting off with his cantankerous housemate Zeb (Chris Sarandon) and eventually joined by his crush-worthy co-worker Donna (Danielle Fisher), Lou makes his way to Kansas to fulfill his destiny.

Unfortunately for Lou, Lucifer (Tim Curry) has other plans for him and does his otherworldly best to impede his progress. There’s also a delightfully over-the-top appearance from a maniacal religious leader (a scene-stealing Lance Henriksen) who also stands in the way of Lou saving the world and getting the girl.

This isn’t really a movie for kids (even though there is no objectionable content) and it’s not quite suited for adults. The main reason for this is that it never quite settles on a consistent tone and, consequently, many of the characters never find their voice and a lot of the jokes fall flat. Lou, for instance, is such a mealymouthed character that it is hard to believe his transition to hero at the end.

To return to the question I posed earlier: I laud this film for its technical accomplishments with such limited means and hope it serves as an inspiration for other aspiring animators. However, story elements and script development are both something that only require a pen and paper, and on that front, I cannot give this movie a free pass. With a little more time spent on the script, I think this could have been a great animated film by any standard. Hopefully, this team will have another chance to show the world that Pixar and Disney aren’t the only shows in town.

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