Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fluppy Love

Disney is odd. Over the years they've given us a plethora of forgettable stuff. Mostly we ignore it. Occasionally (once every two years or so, maybe less) they'll drum up something good, and we forgive them for most past mistakes. Hiring Michael Eisner, however, we can not forgive... but that's another story.

Can you believe I'm saying all this? I'm a Disneyland junkie. But even I know that some weird stuff has come from that company... but, moving on...

Now, as you probably know, when Disney makes a movie, they go all out. There's the bombardment of Happy Meal toys, stuffed creatures, playsets, clothing... mostly aimed at kids, in the hopes that six-year-old Susie will become a walking ad for the film. (Gotta love Susie.) Mostly, though, these pieces of merchandise serve three main purposes: 1) Merchandise sales = money, 2) To advertise the film, which should = more money/revenue, and 3) As a hope that the Cinderella T-shirt little Susie's wearing remains in hand-me-down circulation for all eternity; thus preventing Cinderella from ever being forgotten. Cuz who'd want that?

But... sometimes the system fails. Sometimes they think a movie is going to rock, and then it doesn't... and suddenly there's a surplus of Pocahontas necklaces. See... Disney had a few theatrical fiascos in the mid-90s. Hunchback, Hercules, and Mulan just weren't quite up to Lion King or Little Mermaid standards. And while Pocahontas was cinematically very good, it was surrounded by such controversy and anger over the fact that it's not historically accurate ("Cuz I like meh films historically ack-yu-rate!") that it doesn't seem to be on many people's favorites list today -- or else they're too scared to admit it. Now, all these movies didn't exactly tank, but... some were kinda lame. Even Disney knew it. Admit it? Never. Try to do better? As surely as Mickey is a mouse, you betcha!

In 1986, Disney put out a line of merchandise for a movie called Fluppy Dogs. Stuffed dogs... lunch boxes... who knows what else. You don't remember this movie? Don't worry. Unless you have a really good memory, or unless your VCR captured this one-Sunday-night special back in '86, you probably aren't going to remember the Fluppies. That's right. It wasn't a feature film. It never made it to video with its very own nifty clamshell box. It was a one hour movie that aired one time. Word on the street known as the internet says that it was supposed to have been a pilot for a TV series. A series that never came to be. But why not? Bad ratings? Darnit, why manufacture stuffed dogs for a shortass TV movie? The sense this situation makes is nonexistent!

Ok, breaking news -- my roommate insists that Fluppy Dogs was also a Saturday morning cartoon show for awhile. She says she never missed an episode. I wish there was more evidence to support this... but oh well. Movie -- or short-lived TV show -- doesn't matter. What matters is that its creator has forsaken it.

Let's talk about the movie. A bright spot on the 1986 TV lineup. A movie that captured this then-six-year-old's attention in an almost incredible way. A little-known flick calledFluppy Dogs. Now I would like to say that I do really like this movie, so don't think for a second that my nitpicks are in an attempt to bash it or anything. Nooo. It's a good movie.

Hehe. So okay, my first problem with the whole thing is this: Fluppies are not dogs. They spend the whole freaking movie telling us that. They may look like dogs but they are, in fact, merely mythical creatures that kind of sort of resemble dogs.

So why call the movie Fluppy Dogs? Beats me.

It is a dark and stormy and cliched night. Five dog-like things are edging along a cliff, scared out of their non-canine wits. They carry a crystal-like key and are searching for a door to another world. Because that's what they do, that's why! Long story short, that door leads to an unfriendly world with a weird creaturey guy, and a door in that world leads into our world -- more specifically, a grocery store run by the Time-to-Make-the-Donuts guy, or, at any rate, his cousin Fred.

Fred is none-too-pleased that there are furry creatures loose in his store (cleverly named "Food Mart"). A chase ensues; the mutts escape -- only to scamper across the path of one J.J. Wagstaff (unforunate name),

a local tycoon/dork who likes to collect exotic creatures. Naturally, once he discovers the "dogs" can talk, he is intrigued. He finds out that they're members of the legendary species Fluppy, and he wants them for his very own.

Meanwhile, the Fluppies -- Stanley (blue), Ozzie (green), Tippi (pink), and Dink and Bink (orange and yellow) -- await their fate in a cage at the local shelter. Yes, alas, they have been captured.

Before J.J. Wagstaff can get to them, however, Stanley is adopted by a freaky-looking woman (whose name is Mrs. Bingham but who I will call Mrs. Bighead, cuz... I mean, well... look at her!) who ends up giving him to her 10-year-old son, Jamie, as a birthday present.

Jamie is less than thrilled. He wanted a big dog. To which I must say, Jamie? Be glad you have a dog and shut up. I mean, honestly. Mrs. Bighead suggests Jamie take the dog for a walk. So he does. Stanley escapes. Jamie chases. Jamie stumbles upon a construction site and, being the moron that he is, decides to climb an old ladder to get a better view. Ladder cracks and Jamie looks to be doomed. Yayyy.

But of course... Stanley has to go and save him.

Sooo long story short once again, Jamie realizes that Stanley is special. Stanley tells Jamie about the other Fluppies. Jamie takes his birthday money and goes to the pound to adopt a dog, cuz, well, apparently in this town they'll let 10-year-old kids adopt pets without parental consent. Jamie only has enough money for one dog, however, so he takes Tippi. Naturally, Mrs. Bighead is unthrilled about the appearance of a pink dog, not to mention a female (yay, puppies!) so she makes Jamie give the dog away to the neighbor, a 16-year-old named Claire. Though the movie never says so, I'm willing to bet there is something going on with Jamie and Claire. I bet now, 16 years later, they're married with 2.4 kids. But moving on...

That night, as Jamie and Stanley are getting ready for bed, a disturbing moment in the film occurs. Stanley uses Jamie's toothbrush.

Jamie doesn't object. But hey, if he wants someone else's bacteria all over his toothbrush, that's his choice. Who am I to judge or object?

So Jamie goes to bed. Stanley gets on the bed too. Jamie scratches Stanley's ears. Suddenly they are flying out the window, bed and all! It's very magical of them. They fly to the shelter and rescue the other Fluppies seconds before J.J. Wagstaff enters the room. Wagstaff witnesses their departure out a skylight. Now Wagstaff is mad. Hoo baby, he's mad.

The next day, the Fluppies tell Jamie they need to start looking for the portal home. A sad goodbye occurs. Cut to Jamie's classroom at school...

Jamie's teacher is scolding him in front of the entire class for having incomplete homework. What kind of of barbaric, evil teacher lambasts students in front of everybody like that? Not including my fourth grade teacher, that is? Well, whatever. At any rate, when Stanley taps on the classroom window to get Jamie's attention, Jamie is all to happy to make his escape.

Outside the school, Jamie encounters all five Fluppies. They need his help. Come with us, they say. Jamie's response? "I can't leave school!" Hello, dummy, you already did.

Jamie helps the Fluppies get to the next potential portal. (I should point out that the Fluppies can tell when a portal is nearby thanks to Ozzie's advanced sniffing skills.) Door opens and... water! Lots of it! The pups nearly drown and Jamie goes home drenched. He enlists the help of Claire [insert sly French-sounding laugh here] to help him dry his clothes. Now they're all in Jamie's basement.

Suddenly, Ozzie smells the existence of another portal. Why, it's in Jamie's basement! They open it and -- in walks a big orange creature... because every kids' movie should have a big orange creature.

They call him a Falumpus. Not sure why. For the next five minutes of the movie, the Falumpus proceeds to Poseidon the house. Then everybody has a pitch-in party to clean up. What a precious movie.

Yeah. So anyway, the movie gets a little weird at this point. Mrs. Bighead yells at Jamie for skipping school -- and for acting weird. Three of the Fluppies go off again to look for the portal home. When they do find it, they don't go through, but, instead, go back to get the others. (At this point, to add some tension to the movie (because a Falumpus just isn't enough), we learn that the magical key the Fluppies possess is about to expire of its magicalness, potentially leaving them trapped in our dimension forever!)

J.J. Wagstaff then proceeds to kidnap Ozzie. Everyone must go save him. In the end, Wagstaff is flattened by the Falumpus (oh, so that was the Falumpus's reason for being!) and all ends well. The Fluppies get back to their homeland, but of course, Jamie and Claire are sad to see their beloved pets go. Yes, the pets they had for 3-odd days. It's sad.

Weeks, maybe months later, Jamie and Claire are sitting in the snow talking about how they miss the Fluppies. Claire, in her miniskirt and unbuttoned jacket, doesn't seem to mind the cold. Suddenly, the Fluppies appear! And not just Stanley and the other four, but hourdes

of Fluppies! Jamie and Claire are delighted because they don't realize the potential for mass destruction that 1,000 Fluppies possess! So young, so naive...

Moral of the story: If your mom gives you a blue dog for your birthday and then proceeds to tell you you're acting weird, ignore her.

(Want to watch the movie? It's now on YouTube!)

This article was originally published on my old website on April 19, 2003.
The kid who voiced Jamie died in 2011.
The movie is still not on DVD.

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