Tiger tales

Pub date December 24, 2008
SectionArts & CultureSectionTrash

SRSLY, WTF? "Throughout history, the greatest saviors have come in the darkest hours." No, that’s not Oprah on Obama, but a subsidiary character in Masters of the Impossible appraising the ultimate cartoon superheroes: Siegfried and Roy.

Just reissued by children’s DVD label NCircle, Siegfried and Roy: Masters of the Impossible was produced in 1996 for precise reasons unknown. Perhaps it was a pilot for a Saturday morning series — the mix of tacky drawn and digital animation sure doesn’t look intended for theaters, though this neverending story does clock in at a feature-length 76 minutes. As entertainment for kids, it is just wrong, the sort of thing that might actually send them dazedly outside to play rather than keep watching. But as an inexplicable whatsit — one of those things that can’t exactly be recommended yet must be seen to be believed — it has some perverse appeal.

In the mystic world of Sarmoti … well, I’d attempt to describe the "plot," but that would take up more space than a New Yorker essay. Suffice it to say rakish, wisecracking Siegfried (voice of Andrew Hawkes) and noble, humorless Roy (Jeff Bennett) are itinerant magicians who meet in a Star Wars-esque freak bar. They become scrappin’ best bros on an incredibly convoluted quest involving King Midas and every other folkloric figure or tidbit that can be shoehorned into one senseless mess. There are Greek and Norse gods (see Zeus battle Loki!), unicorns, Beowulf, Medusa, an annoying comedy-relief Rumplestiltskin, gratuitous Shakespeare quotes, and of course a white tiger.

Siegfried, spouting Vegas-style ka-boom-cha! quips, sasses lines like "Great! Stuck at a dragon crossing?! What can your magic cat do for us now, Tiger Boy?" (He also keeps trumpeting "The magic is back!" — the worst movie catchphrase this side of "Welcome to the Xander zone.")

It’s hard to think the writers weren’t smirking when they included references to "the last seer of Gaylen" and "drained enchantments from around the world." Or maybe I’m just filthy-minded. But was it an audio hallucination, or did Sig really warn Roy that a fire-breathing dragon might reduce them to "barbecued bareback"?

This just might be the worst drinking-game DVD ever. Even if you limited yourself to imbibing only when there’s a.) demonic possession, b.) talking breastplates, c.) characters transforming into gold, d.) characters transforming into stone, or e.) Roy shouting to his tiger BFF "Manticore, no!" you’d be hammered within 10 minutes (creepily, the white tiger who near-fatally mauled the real Roy Horn onstage in 2003 was named Montecore) — through a drunken haze might well be the best lens through which to appreciate Masters of the Impossible.