This film version of Dudley Do-Right was part of the spate of cartoon shows being remade in live-action that came about after the success of The Flintstones (1994). Others cartoons that were remade in live-action included Mr Magoo (1997), Inspector Gadget (1999), Josie and the Pussycats (2001), Scooby-Doo (2002), Fat Albert (2004), Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007), Transformers (2007), Underdog (2007), Speed Racer (2008), Dragonball: Evolution (2009), The Last Airbender (2010), Yogi Bear (2010), The Smurfs (2011) and Jem and the Holograms (2015), as well as various other Jay Ward shows such as George of the Jungle (1997), which also headlined Brendan Fraser, and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000). Dudley Do-Right was directed by Hugh Wilson, the creator of tvs WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-82) and director of films such as Police Academy (1984), Guarding Tess (1994), The First Wives Club (1996) and the same years Blast from the Past (1999), which also managed to feature Brendan Fraser.
The Dudley Do-Right movie is reasonably faithful to the cartoons (although the gag of Dudley always seeming to prefer his horse to the romantic attentions of Nell that was one of the running gags of the show is oddly missing, presumably to avoid any suggestion of bestiality). The tv series Gold Rush era period setting has been updated to something contemporary, which makes the films milieu where tanks and tvs sit alongside prospectors, horse-mounted police and the Klondike adventure seem oddly anachronistic.
While faithful to the cartoons, Dudley Do-Right sinks into a squirm-inducingly bad mess within a matter of minutes. Part of the problem may simply be the move from animation to live-action. On the small screen, the series was wilfully silly, but it could be because it was caricatured and more importantly only came in five-minute bursts. With the cartoon caricatures filled out with flesh and blood actors, the film seems like adults playing at being silly and with actors like Brendan Fraser and Alfred Molina straining to be caricatures of one-dimensional characters. More than anything, Dudley Do-Right looks like a cheap childrens pantomime with everybody in ill-fitting costumes doing and saying silly things and trying to keep straight faces. Hugh Wilson gives the film little of the wilfully absurdist tone that marked the series most of the film is down around the level of scenes with Brendan Fraser perpetually standing on floorboards and whanging himself in the face, moose heads falling over his head, he accidentally setting himself on fire and horse fart jokes. There are times that the film just goes on and on particularly during Eric Idles would-be parody of a Zen master sequence that makes one wonder why those involved failed to click earlier on how staggeringly unfunny it was.
Brendan Fraser has done too many of these larger-than-life cartoon goofball roles, while Sarah Jessica Parker, just before Sex and the City (1998-2004) went big, is almost entirely negligible as a character. Even Snidley Whiplashs fake Gold Rush scheme seems vague and it not particularly clear what he is up to.