Published on April 11th, 2018 | by voxx0
Christian films have a reputation, deserved or not, for often being pretty bad. Whether it’s live action or animated, Christmas based or not, there’s plenty of bizarre or awful stuff out there. To me, what immediately comes to mind is Dorbees, a 1998 animated film from Grammy winning gospel group, the Gaither Vocal Band. It was supposed to be a series, but it seems like only one short film was released. ‘Dorbees – Making Decisions’ wasn’t the only animated film they made though, as Gaither’s Pond ran for six episode from 1997 to 2006. It also seems to be a ripoff of Veggie Tales, just in a different setting.
When you watch ‘Dorbees’, the first thing that you’ll notice is the animation. It’s pretty awful to say the least, somehow managing to make something as basic as ball shapes look ugly and uncanny. While this was early CG, it is worth pointing out that ‘Toy Story’ came out two years before. The character models aren’t the only badly animated thing either, as the environments are incredibly basic and there’s animation errors at several points.
The plot centres around two different stories. The main story is that of Jack and Mary Jane Dorbee, who escape from school to be grown up. The voice actor for Jack is either a terrible VA or was given horrible direction, because his voice is incredibly grating and annoying. Mary Jane is also quite annoying, though not as bad. The other story is about an Icelandic immigrant called Otto, who goes to find some new clothes. His accent is very forced, and it really sounds quite bad.
The plot is very unfocused, cutting away often from each story to the other, and at one point featuring a six minute long cutaway gag of a German super hero show. It all comes across as quite jumbled. Even the cuts between each scene are unfocused, varying between an old man called Delta telling stories, and somebody just sitting on a chair watching TV. The editing reminds me a lot of ‘Family Guy’, which isn’t a good thing.
There are also some more minor nitpicks I have with ‘Dorbees’. The classroom scene has a borderline scary moment of animation, and the teacher is literally wrong in saying that the sides of a triangle add up to 90 degrees when they really add up to 180. I’m not quite sure if this was bad writing, or if it was supposed to be comedic, but either way it doesn’t work at all. It should also be made clear that, although this is supposed to be a Christian film, it doesn’t really mention any Christian teachings, with two offhanded and vague references to the faith that are really put to one side.
There is a major positive of Dorbees though. The songs are quite decent, which you’d expect considering who it comes from. The song from Jack and Mary Jane, while worsened by the horrible voices, is competently made, and I would go as far as saying the song in the clothes shop is quite good.
All in all though, I think I would put Dorbees in the “so bad that it’s entertaining” category. The absurdity is just interesting to witness, and it could definitely be used as a reference to how far budget animation has come since the late 90′s. If you’re a fan of bad media, this is certainly worth a watch.
- By Callum Streeter