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I'm awfully surprised that this movie has received such low ratings! I never saw the original "Babes in Toyland," so I can't say one way or the other whether this film is guilty of desecrating some legacy, as suggested by other comments. I first saw the movie when I was about 4 years old, and I loved every minute of it. I thought that Troller was horrifically frightening, that Barnaby was the very embodiment of evil, and that Keanu Reeves was the most handsome and heroic protagonist in television history. I was literally on the edge of my brightly-colored plastic seat as Jack Nimble Jr. was hauled to jail by the giant teddy bear police, and was thoroughly emotionally invested in Drew Barrymore's journey to believe in Santa and Christmas and whatever. Fifteen years later, I still love the movie! Yes, it's ridiculously campy and poorly acted, but that's what makes "Babes in Toyland" so enjoyable. It isn't supposed to be serious, and it wasn't created to be some enduring theatrical masterpiece. It's a made-for-TV movie featuring the same guy who starred in the "Bill and Ted" films. I got the video in a McDonald's Happy Meal. What did you expect? "Babes in Toyland" still brings back fond memories, mostly because I remember the strong emotions that the movie evoked for me as a little girl. It makes the movie even more hilarious to watch now. If you want to see a cinematic work of art, why are you watching a low-budget TV movie from 1986? If you want a silly, fun, and entertaining holiday movie, by all means, watch on.
This third film version of Victor Herbert's beloved operetta is an
illuminating example of the lengths TV executives will go to in
manhandling a beloved work, just for the sake of manufacturing "family
entertainment", and with no regard at all for the integrity of the
work. To be fair,none of the three film versions have followed the 1903
operetta as closely as, say, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical films
have followed their stage originals, and the original Glen MacDonough
lyrics, full of "thee"s and "thou"s, are outdated even by the standards
of the 1940's. But even in Laurel and Hardy's old version, one could
still see respect for the material.Laurel and Hardy, of course, were
hilariously allowed to do whatever they wanted, but in that version,
five of the Victor Herbert songs, with their original lyrics, were kept
in, and performed beautifully, and the fairy-tale atmosphere was
magnificently retained. Disney's 1961 version rewrote all the lyrics
and changed some of the tempos in the songs (including, most
sacrilegously, "Toyland", changed from a slow ballad to a happy, upbeat
march). However, it still featured a convincing enough fantasy
atmosphere,and what were then state-of-the art effects for the toy
soldiers (set to a nearly full-length and beautifully played "March of
the Toys"), as well as more of Herbert's music than was included in the
L&H version, so it was good enough.
But this third version is truly, truly amazing in its awfulness. It has no air of fantasy or magic whatsoever. It looks as if it had been filmed in a cheap theme park for very young children, rather than in a dazzling fantasy setting. The toy soldiers are simply men in costumes,not digitally animated,or stop-motion animated (as was done in the previous two versions). The acting is on the level of a kiddie school play, with Drew Barrymore at her most syrupy sweet. The Toyland story has been incongruously combined with a modern 1986 setting and turned into a dream (they don't even try to follow the original 1903 plot,but that really doesn't matter---the 1903 story was lousy to begin with).
But worst of all of the decisions, the one which belongs in the Hall of Infamy, is the decision to retain only the two best-known songs from the original score ("Toyland",and "March of the Toys") and replace them with new songs by Leslie Bricusse! This is the man who murdered the 1967 "Doctor Dolittle" and the 1969 "Goodbye,Mr. Chips" by providing them with perhaps the two worst scores written for a 1960's film musical. His songs (NOT the ones he wrote with his former partner,the late Anthony Newley) have become synonymous with bad movie musicals. The results in this film are truly excruciating-especially in comparison with the Victor Herbert-Glen MacDonough original score.
See this only if you're either curious or a movie-musical masochist.
I have always loved this movie however why did they decide to take a
made for TV movie and edit it? The original had so many songs in it and
I loved those. Most of the time you edit to make it into time frame on
TV...not cut to put on video after been on TV...
Does anyone else remember the original, the song between Jack and Mary or Lisa singing before going in to the Forrest?
I think this needs to be re-released in its original form!
We bought the VHS a while back and saw the edits, I decided to watch on Netflix online and there has been other times when it just seems that something is missing, a skip or something so you know there is stuff missing.
Drew Barrymore gives a bodacious performance in Babes In Toyland. As also do Jill Schoelen, Keanu Reeves, and Pat Morita. Richard Mulligan is convincing as Barnabie and pulls it off terrific. The good/evil chemistry between him and Drew will leave the viewer in awe. This amazing fantasy movie has it all. Just ignore the pathetic critics and enjoy. 7 out of 10.
First off, this is a TV Christmas movie. Most of us realize that at Christmas, tons of silly TV movies for the season come out. So, if you watch it with higher expectations, you probably would be disappointed. Having said that, if you like to watch fun, silly Christmas movies, then there's a better chance that this is a movie for you! There's some romance, some conflict, singing, and a lot of toys! This makes it a good choice to watch with the family...this is one of our favorite ridiculous Christmas movies to watch. So, to anyone else out there whose family enjoys watching the silly Christmas movies, consider checking this one out!
I don't know how people can say that this is a terrible movie. Although I cannot say this is a the greatest movie, it's still a fun, sweet, Christmas family movie for all. Sure it's cheezy and a little bit wizard of oz-ish, but who care. It's a low budget made for TV movie, so you shouldn't be expecting the best sets and special effects. Can't a movie just be fun anymore. Do we always have to think about it too much. Just watch the movie and enjoy the Christmas togetherness and fun nursery rhymes from your childhood. Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves, and Pat Morita, as well as the rest of the cast, do a great job. I feel like going to CINCINNATI now. Watch this movie! I dare you.
This version of Babes in Toyland is not quite as bad as it has been
cited to be, but it is not really a good film(personal opinion of
course, admittedly I did actually like it somewhat as a child) and it
is easy to see why it was panned. Babes in Toyland is not without its
moments. March of the Toys is actually a good song and deserved a
better film or a better version of Babes in Toyland, the song is also
nicely staged if not as memorably and inventively as in the Disney
film(a decent film if one of the lesser Disney live-action musicals).
The incidental score is appropriately whimsical too. Richard Mulligan
is a lot of fun as the villain Barnaby, he has great comic timing(but
it has been put to better use elsewhere) and he is a convincing threat
too. Pat Morita is warm and kindly as the toymaker, Gooey Gress is
adorable and the one-eyed bird is well done and frightening. The songs
on the whole are not great with some very gooey lyrics, most of them
are forgettable and the Cincinnatti song is like nails on a blackboard.
Most of the production values look as though they've been done on the
cheap too, that's even for a television film, the sets on the most part
are garish and of theme park or re-used quality. The costumes are
outrageous and like stuffed animals, with Barnaby's black feathery
costume making him look like a giant crow. The special effects were
clever in the Disney film, here they were sub-par especially the race
The acting apart from Mulligan and Morita doesn't work. Eileen Brennan does a decent job with what she has, the problem is that she doesn't have much to do, so no matter how much she puts into it it wasn't worth the bother if the film wasn't going to use her talents well. Drew Barrymore, a promising child actress and has done a lot of great stuff(Grey Gardens and Ever After: A Cinderella Story), has some moments of cute charm but others where she was too syrupy, so it was more an uneven performance than a bad one. Keanu Reeves in an early role is handsome but very wooden with line delivery that is suggestive of him reading from a cue card. The script is uninspired, and the story- admittedly one of the weaker points of the Disney film and the operetta- has very little charm or wonder, partly because of the mix of real life and Toyland(and the whole only a dream premise), themes that seem rather mean-spirited for a fantasy/holiday film and also the unimaginatively staged musical numbers. It also comes across as far too stagy in a theatrical way, is at times ploddingly paced and can be overly cutesy and corny. Clive Donner's direction throughout is unimaginative and bland, it's sad to see a director who did such a great job with one of the best versions of A Christmas Carol two years previously directs with seemingly little interest or enthusiasm. Babes in Toyland has its moments(one really good song and two good performances especially) and has some curiosity value for Barrymore and Reeves early in their careers but overall it doesn't have a whole lot going for it. Stick with the Laurel/Hardy and Disney films instead. 4/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm reviewing this movie based on its own merits. I'm not comparing it
to any older productions.
The sets are hideous. Imagine the most boring and spartan buildings you can picture painted various shades of pink and purple, and you've got Toyland. Even the giant shoe the old woman used to live in manages to be boring.
The characters (most of whom are flat and dull) seem to spend most of their time running around and getting nothing of value done. For example, Jack gets thrown into jail, gets broken out of jail, and promptly gets himself trapped by the villain. Ample screen time is spent showing the characters running around town in kiddie cars instead of advancing the plot.
The movie hands out promises like it's Christmas and breaks every one of them. For example, George Porgie says that Barnaby occasionally rolls his bowling-ball-shaped house into town. You'd expect that to be foreshadowing for the film's climax, right? Nope, it never happens. Lisa attempts to play matchmaker between Barnaby and Mrs. Hubbard, something you'd expect to pay off SOMEHOW by the end of the film. It doesn't, unless you count a cheap joke to be a payoff. The Dark Forest is mentioned several times, leading you to think the characters might end up having to go into it, but in fact, they never leave town. The Toymaker hints that Barnaby could be redeemed... but in the end, he just gets banished to the forest.
A particularly ridiculous aspect was how Lisa, who frequently complains that she's "not a child," must learn to use her imagination again and "believe." However, up until the end of the film there is no real indication that Lisa isn't imaginative; whenever she insists that she's no longer a child she is clearly doing so because she does not want to be perceived as incompetent or incapable based on the fact that she's 11. Bucking against ageism and refusing to use one's imagination are not the same thing, which this film unfortunately implies.
As far as charming holiday specials go, this movie is not one of them.
I cannot believe I have never heard or seen this movie. I was getting
married in 1986 and I guess this just passed me by! Tonight for the
first time, I am watching this movie on TV with my nine year old. He
loves it! I on the other hand am feigning interest while I'm amazed and
entertained by the bad acting, tacky costumes cheap wooden toys and
really bad sets!
My 9 year old LOVES the whole thing. The weird little beat up cars and leftover stuff they must of used from a closed amusement park. This looks like a episode of Puff N Stuff on a lower budget. I can certainly see how all the people who truly love this movie must of loved it when it first came out. Lets just say, if I didn't have a 9 year old, I would of clicked right by. :)
I had the displeasure of watching this movie(becasue nothing else was on tv,on a Saturday) for the first time just days before Christmas last year.I couldn't believe how lame it was.Even for a children's movie.You know its bad when even kids watching the movie with you comment on how stupid it is.Was this suppose to be a comedy?The jokes kept coming from the mouths of viewers in my living room all thru out the viewing.
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