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Sleepy, over-the-hill "teenager" Tommy Kirk isn't really the ideal actor to carry a movie set on a mythical college campus, one wherein everyone is relentlessly energetic and colorful. Kirk is supposed to be wacky and wonderful too, but he's the most normal of the bunch, bland and grounded. Still, there are some chuckles in this Walt Disney production about a nerdy college whiz, and love-interest Annette Funicello is lively doing the same love-means-a-wedding-ring thing she perfected in the concurrent "Beach Party" flicks. Much preferable to its immediate sequel, "The Monkey's Uncle", which--despite an opening featuring Annette on stage with The Beach Boys!--just didn't have the heart or spirit of this one. *** from ****
The movie seems to have dramatic arcs that end at 45 minutes. First 45 minutes is about mind reading. The second 45 minutes was about hypnotism. Both almost seemed disconnected from each other. If there is anyone out there who knows about the production or about this T.V. show....Uh.. oops..I mean movie, let me know. I guess I'll have to mention my guess for why this Potential television series did not happen. The scandal of Disney discovering that "Tommy Kirk" was not heterosexual, caused Disney to drop his contract. Since the series was already in the can, they had to do something with it. So to make some money back, they linked two of the four episodes into two feature films. Again if somebody out there has the real answer...write.
If you're looking for something clean, family friendly and funny, here
it is. The Misadventures of Merlin Jones delights from beginning to
end. In this classic Disney fare, Tommy Kirk plays Merlin, an eccentric
college student at Medfield college who is interested in science, in
this case, hypnosis.
Along the way, he and girlfriend Jennifer, payed by Annette Funicello, find themselves getting into all sorts of mischief. Included in the mischief is a chimp and a judge, who likes to write crime novels.
Between the judge writing crime novels, a mischievous chimp and an eccentric student who uses hypnosis, what more in a plot could you expect or ask for?
A great film for kids and adults alike that the whole family can enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I kept waiting to hear that woman on the canned laughter used on
"Gilligan's Island" saying "Uh Oh!" every time Tommy Kirk got into
trouble. Having not seen one of Disney's generic comedies of the 60's
or 70's in many years, I chose this one in an effort to go down memory
lane and see why in my mind their grab bag of farcial entertainment
seemed mediocre at best. Now I know the reason. These pleasant family
films are basically TV sitcoms expanded for the big screen '60's and
'70's style with child-like comedy distracting the viewer from
realizing that they are virtually plot less.
In the case of "Merlin Jones", I confirmed what I had suspected all along. Merlin is a geeky college kid who experiments in mind reading and hypnosis, constantly getting him into trouble. Annette Funnicello (away temporarily from the beach) is his harried girlfriend, while a slew of Hollywood veterans show up for the older crowd to appreciate. Leon Ames is the frazzled judge whom Merlin believes to be a closet criminal, while Stuart Erwin (who played his share of Merlin Jones type characters in the early 30's) is a befuddled police officer. The delightful Connie Gilchrist plays Ames' housekeeper, a reunion with him from their MGM days. For this, "Merlin Jones" is worth a look. There are a handful of genuine laughs to be had, but just be aware that they do not really involve a linear plot. The series of gags are part of a shell of a story. I dare not complete my review by failing to mention one of the worst movie theme songs I've ever heard in my life. It makes the same years' "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!" should like "Que Sera Sera"!
This 1964 Disney film, like many other of it's era have been long
forgotten except by certain aficionados such as myself. The
Misadventures of Merlin Jones stars Tommy Kirk as the title character
and the unforgettable Annette Funicello in the female lead.
For those of you with short attention spans this movie actually wraps up one story line and continues to conclude another one...not only that, it's left open for a sequel called The Monkey's Uncle! Merlin Jones is the college campus genius who's wacky "scientific" experiments land him in more trouble than any good kid deserves. As a result of one experiment he gets his driver's license revoked, as a result of another he can suddenly read minds...including the mind of the judge that took his license away...and it seems that the good judge isn't all that good. Yet a 3rd experiment gets the judge himself into the same hot water that Merlin is usually in! Just as the title indicates this movie is one misadventure after another.
Don't try to analyze this movie, just sit back and enjoy it. This is the kind of movie whose sole purpose is to celebrate life's little absurdities. If you enjoy being silly then you'll enjoy this Disney gem.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tommy Kirk is the great comic actor that should have been and had he
lived in a better world and more enlightened time he would have. He
should be invited on an episode of The Big Bang Theory opposite Jim
Parsons as the older Merlin Jones.
In this film he is winning and charming and he does everything and more that he can with the material. He relates easily to his co star Annette who is just okay and bland, his other comic foils who are familiar faces from early and mid sixties TV. Mr. Kirk has the best way of reading the most stereotypical of lines and his expressive face is priceless.
Furthermore he is good looking. And sexy. So in spite of the supposed nerdiness of his character it is easy to believe that Annette would want him. I just wonder why he doesn't want a girl sharper than her character. She is loyal but her prodding causes his life more complications.
The mind reading sequences are funny, the hypnotizing of the cat is great(and great for kids) and his attempted voo doing of the judge of in court with Annette on the comb for musical accompaniment had me laughing aloud.
Far from being over the hill, Mr Kirk should have been promoted and gone on to better films with substantive scripts for adults. This is no more goofy and no less satiric than "The Thrill of It All" of the same era with Doris Day, though that film is aimed for adults and this for kids. Even so, it is very watchable (still great for kids) and given its age holds up because of Mr. Kirk's talent as a comic actor.
Who wouldn't want to read the minds of everyone around you?!! Merlin Jones does this and more in this hysterical film! Annette sings the title song,but its lacking a bit in enthusiasm. It's a real 60's production,but it's great for kids!!
Given how horribly Tommy Kirk was treated and some of the horrible
films he made after Walt Disney gave him the boot one might be inclined
to say The Misadventures Of Merlin Jones is a classic. I'm not one of
them, in fact one wonders how this became a hit looking at it today.
Kirk in the title role is a scientific genius with the fashion sense of one. He's conducting all kinds of wild experiments which even put his relationship to fellow student Annette Funicello at risk. Still she puts up with him only God knows why.
The film bisects neatly in two segments, one concerning Kirk being supercharged with mind reading ability which produces a wonderful day in court with Judge Leon Ames. Police chief Stu Erwin thinks he's found a new crime fighting tool and in fact it does work on one interrogation subject. The second part has Kirk conducting experiments on hypnosis with a chimpanzee and Judge Ames with another day in court for Kirk.
No one ever want wrong underestimating the taste of the American public and this rather witless film was a big hit and inspired another, The Monkey's Uncle.
A whole lot of talented people look rather silly here. I can't see how The Misadventures Of Merlin Jones would appeal to anyone over 9.
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