Review Legacy

Blue’s Big Musical Movie (2000)

Roger Ebert claimed to review movies based on how well they achieved their goals rather than the goals themselves, and I’m here to apply that same philosophy. For Blue’s Big Musical Movie is pretty terrific at being an epic, thoughtful, mildly subversive triple-length episode of the hit toddler TV show.

The movie uses the basic format of a Blue’s Clues episode and scales it up to include much more narrative and character development than the typical episode. And much of it engages with questions about the basic structure of the show: Why do viewers always spot a clue before Steve? Do side characters have their own internal lives? What’s it like to be the one teaching rather than the one learning? What preparation is required for the compelling artifice we, as audience members, consume every day?

Blue’s Clues has always used music intelligently for its target demo: adding tunes to emphasize routines and improve content retention. The movie upgrades the music to being a core storytelling component — Steve’s quest to find a clue and Side Table Drawer’s dream of the spotlight are both given sung-through motifs repeated throughout the film. The climax is a varied and genuinely well-composed piece that’s a great payoff after an hour of buildup.

Ray Charles even makes a cameo as a living G-clef to teach us about the different base components of music! Amazing.

It helps, of course, that the movie is anchored by Steve Burns, who always acts brilliantly against a green screen, projecting earnestness and generosity. (The emotional impact of his viral Twitter video last year shouldn’t have been a surprise… we know he’s good at this stuff.) And the colorful ensemble of regular side characters all get something fun to do.

So even though it’s bound by its repetitive structure and simplicity by nature of being made for preschoolers as a direct-to-video spinoff, Blue’s Big Musical Movie is a winner that holds up really well.

Is It Good?

Very Good (6/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.

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