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Television review: 'A Fairly Odd Christmas' offers cheer to show fans

Nickelodeon's TV movie will make more sense to the audience of the network's 'The Fairly OddParents' but is still watchable as holiday shows about saving Christmas go. It stars Drake Bell, Daran Norris and Susanne Blakeslee.

November 29, 2012|By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
  • Timmy (Drake Bell) sits on Santa's (Donavon Stinson) lap in "A Fairly Odd Christmas."
Timmy (Drake Bell) sits on Santa's (Donavon Stinson) lap in "A… (Ed Araquel, Nickelodeon )

"A Fairly Odd Christmas," which premieres Thursday on Nickelodeon, is the second (mostly) live-action TV movie to be sprung from the network's long-running cartoon series "The Fairly OddParents" (ninth season coming! 2013!). Though its appeal will be primarily to fans of the show, and its details confusing to everybody else, it should be diverting enough to anyone wanting to consume a few holiday tropes prepared with a pinch of attitude.

Written by "OddParents" creator Butch Hartman, and directed, as was last year's "A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!," by Savage Steve Holland ("Big Time Rush," "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide"), it stars Drake Bell, who grew up on the Nick sitcom "Drake and Josh," as an adult, which is not to say mature, version of the titular Timmy (who is 10 in the cartoon, where Bell is 26, in the world we call real).

Pursuant to new rules set down at the end of the previous film, he has been allowed to keep his fairy godparents (Daran Norris voicing Cosmo, Susanne Blakeslee as Wanda, with baby Poof now onboard) as long as he does not make wishes for himself. And so they rocket around the world in a flying van, hearing and granting wishes willy-nilly, heedless of their unintended consequences.

His territory encroached upon, Santa Claus summons the crew, also including Timmy's girlfriend Tootie (Daniella Monet), to the North Pole. (Mr. Crocker, the Lionel Barrymore of the piece, stows away to get his name off the naughty list. "What's that? Some kind of blog?" he asks when he learns of its existence.) All heck breaks loose, naturally — it turns out that elves and fairies have an ancient beef, and Timmy and Cosmo are habitual well-intentioned creators of chaos — occasioning a Christmas Must Be Saved story and a journey across authentic Vancouver, Canada, snowscapes to save it.

There are riled-up gingerbread men along the way and — a thing you have never seen before — a rickety rope bridge across a yawning chasm. (Boiling eggnog flows below.)

No one here is trying very hard to convey anything like a deep or subtle human emotion. Rather, they endeavor to honor their animated originals, and do a nice job of it. Bell is an appealing performer whose agent really ought to be looking past Nickelodeon already, while David Lewis as Crocker and Mark Gibbon as fairy king Jorgen Von Strangle (the looks of Dolph Lundgren, the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger) offer convincing impersonations of their animated originals.

The fairies are rendered in CGI, and blend well with their human co-stars.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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'A Fairly Odd Christmas'

Where: Nickelodeon

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Rating: TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children)

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