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Warner Brothers has seen fit to butcher this masterpiece with a new animated version that is thoroughly awful. The producers have attempted to bring the story down to a kid's level by eliminating key elements from the original and introducing new characters that would make Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein both turn over in their graves. The King no longer has a harem here, and his 106 children have been reduced to a mere 8. The Prime Minister has been transformed into an evil wizard who uses a magic gong in an attempt to overthrow the King, and he is aided by a bumbling fat midget who keeps having his teeth knocked out. Then there is the onslaught of cute animals including a monkey, an elephant and a panther that constantly save the King by hurling mangoes at the villains. Many of these new characters are directly stolen from Disney films, especially from `Aladdin.' If all this was not enough, we even get a scene where the King rides in a hot air balloon that is powered by a panther riding a bicycle mounted to a propeller. And just to make sure that we have a happy ending, absolutely NOBODY dies in this version. Admittedly, seeing this was an animated feature I was fully expecting some liberties to be taken, but I was not expecting a rewriting of the entire story.
The film's worst moments come during the musical scenes. Some of Rogers and Hammerstein's music manages to make it onto the screen but it is handled in such a way that it makes your stomach turn. For example, the movie begins with Anna singing `I Whistle a Happy Tune' while a sea monster attacks her. The King sings `A Puzzlement' while being attacked by giant statues that have suddenly come to life. Then there are the kids that sing `Getting to Know You' while being stalked by the fat midget. At the screening of this film I kept sinking deeper into my seat and saying, `Tell me this isn't happening!'
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