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I find some of the comments on here ridiculous. Are we really comparing this to the Exorcist?! REALLY? I'm sorry, but there isn't a child's movie out there that doesn't have a villain or an evil character. Otherwise, there'd be no point to it. I watched this when I was very little, and loved it. In fact, it was a favorite of mine. And my childhood wasn't "destroyed" or whatever you all are saying. I loved the songs and the characters. It's fun, and I recommend it for anyone. A great family movie. Kids will enjoy it, I can promise you that. In fact, I'm on this page today because I remembered how much I loved it, and I wanted to watch it again. But the reviews shocked me, and I had to comment.
I was originally introduced to the "Babes in Toyland" concept via the Walt
Disney soundtrack, which had the story and song, in Kindergarten. I liked
the record a lot, but when I finally saw the Disney production it was based
on when I was 8...well, I was horribly disappointed. It was stupid, spoofy,
had lousy acting and was just plain awful. I wasn't surprised to learn that
it was one of Walt's flops and was considered one of his worst failures.
So, having had the concept ruined for me for a long time, I was not exactly enthusiastic when I was visiting my mother at Christmas and she recommended it to me. I said no way, as I was guessing it would stink as badly as the Disney version only worse (they just aren't making animated films well here in the USA these days).
"No, you've got to see this one," she assured me. "I saw it just the other night and it puts the Disney production to shame."
Being a professional cartoonist, I tend to be extremely picky about new animated material. So I was very suspicious as I settled myself into a chair and waited to see what I was in store from as I feared the worst.
What I got was a fantastic surprise! This version of "Babes in Toyland" is genuinely charming, boasts nice animation and superb songs which actually WORK without being overly "showy" (the only bummer being the song sung in The Goblin Forest), fine character design and captures a special childlike magic and innocence that Disney's version simply never achieved.
While Disney's was a bunch of adults who refused to take any of the material seriously and hammed it up through a shoddy production attached to a smirk, this one is smart and serious with its characters. It also features good character development (!!!) and a better script.
Not being familiar with the original stage production, I'm not sure how much liberty has been taken here although I'm sure a lot has. Except for the classic songs "Toyland" and "March of The Toy Soldiers" and the basic concept of Toyland being a home for nursery rhyme characters, the villain Barnaby and a love story between a Tom and Mary, it is otherwise COMPLETELY dissimilar to the Disney version of the story.
In this one, Jack and Jill (you know, "Jack and Jill went up the hill...") are being sent to Toyland to live with their uncle, who unfortunately happens to be Barnaby. Mary (and her little lamb) is the sweet, professional and kindhearted owner of Toyland's prized toy factory inherited from her father. Her top employee and main man in charge, Tom (the piper's son, who looks a LOT of Leonardo DiCaprio--I'd swear he was the character model if it weren't for the fact that this was made before TITANIC) is the loveable lunk of a genius who happens to be a personal friend of Santa Claus himself and is responsible for creating the toys to order and preparing them for delivery. Tom is crazy about Mary, Mary is crazy about him as well but isn't willing to admit it to herself yet.
One of the things that is especially nice here is how the characters actually come across as being believable souls, and the script features all the little details as to why they feel and behave the way they do, such as Mary's comments which give away why she is so secretly smitten with Tom. (She affectionately remarks to him, "You're becoming more and more like my father all the time.")
All except for Barnaby, of course... but hey, he's a villain who simply hates toys, does a children's cartoon NEED a detailed explanation for HIM? This version of Barnaby is far more threatening and sinister than Disney's klunky version ever pretended to be.
But the wonderful thing about this one is how it captures a real feel for Toyland itself and what it could be like. I get the impression that everyone involved here had a lot of fun making it and that they all genuinely loved the concept enough to make it work. Toyland feels like a real place with real citizens, so to speak, and it truly does look like a child's fantasy come true.
And hey, this feature actually makes children AND their parents genuinely *care* about the fate of Toyland when it's harassed. As though it's a real and beautifully precious place.
That's not an easy feat to pull off.
This one has become a annual holiday favorite within my household, and our children (who range from ages 5 to 15) all adore it. And so do I. It deserves a long life on both videocassette and DVD (if the latter is ever released...and I certainly hope so!).
While I was able to recognize all the traditional characters from nursery rhymes and stories here, there's one that puzzles me... in the toy factory, one of the workers there appears to be a silver fox...well, at least he's far too sleek-looking and pointy-muzzled to be a wolf. I simply don't recognize who he's supposed to be!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
And oddly enough, omitted Mother Goose herself.
This version of babes In Toyland didn't plagiarize, but obviously borrowed from Wacky World of Mother Goose, in which Jack and Jill were the hero and heroine, the villain was the Crooked Man (Hence Barnaby with the last name here as Crookedman) and the cat fiddling and the dish running away with the spoon all featured prominently, tho here they were minor supporting players.
While no harm was done, I couldn't help but note this after watching Laurel and Hardy's version and recalling the '61 Disney offering as well.
What this one also did was completely remove Mother Goose, which was interesting.
Again, no harm done. They are all very delightful to watch back-to-back, I must say.
Still, I can't help but note hair color in many of these cartoons, from Johan and Peewee in the Smurfs to various other offerings, where they are always fair-haired blondes and redheads.
This one stands as about the first time I've seen both sexes covered; Jack was a redhead, Jill was blonde, Mary Contrary was a redhead and Tom Piper was blonde.
So glad we are now a more racially open-minded society. Ah well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I grew up with this movie since it was first released. I remember I
would always see this with my older sister whenever we went to visit
Grandma. Nostalgia aside, it's a harmless movie.
The story is basically about the orphans Jack and Jill who are forced to live with their evil uncle Barnaby, who absolutely hates toys, which leads him to hating the toy factory run by Mary Contrary and Tom Piper. In the meantime, Tom and Mary must complete Santa's order to create a thousand soldiers before Christmas arrives, and Barnaby does whatever he can to shut down the factory and get rid of his niece and nephew at the same time. With the help of Humpty Dumpty, each other, and the toy soldiers, they foil Barnaby's plans.
In reality, the film is not that strong as a film. Then again, I'm not sure if there's an actual Babes in Toyland adaptation that was able to stand strong as a film. It's really meant to be a fun adventure to enjoy Mother Goose cameos, and it kinda gives some adventure in this adaptation, but not very much. It's mostly kept to few locations, few explored stories, and over all is just weird and silly. But then again, what do you expect from Babes in Toyland other than strange and silly?
As much as I enjoy the characters they aren't really that interesting. The kids don't have much of a personality, Tom and Mary are kinda fun but don't have much to add to the story, and surprisingly the villain's pretty boring. Even Christopher Plummer (voicing Barnaby) doesn't sound like he has much tow work with or enjoy and that laugh is a little too weird. Also, is it just me or are the two henchmen racially insensitive? However, Humpty Dumpty is the most interesting and enjoyable character. I don't know whether it's the voice actor giving so much life to him, or just the fact he's just so fun and lively. He makes Toyland fun to hang around.
Of course the animation's really good and takes advantage of the environments, whether in Toyland or the Goblin Forest. Just looking at Toyland, you really believe you're in Toyland, even though Toyland should really be called "Mother Goose Village". Sometimes the animation can be a little choppy and skip continuity for some of the characters.
The songs are pretty clumsy for the most part. The score is great, but the lyrics for the most part aren't really that great. Most of them sound like the score had been written first and the lyrics were forced. And yes, the score had been written first for the most part, especially the March of the Toy Soldiers score which thankfully has no lyrics. That music still sounds awesome, even if the toy soldiers themselves are a combo of weird, hilarious, and anti continuity (like were they all really installed with water hoses, boxing feet, punching hands, rocket power, and a flashlight each when being created?).
So if this movie is so flawed, why do I still enjoy it so much? Well like I said before, it's nostalgic, so it's kinda hard for me to hate on it. On the other hand, Babes in Toyland (in general) is imagining if toys and Mother Goose characters lived and interacted with one another. It reaches into the child of the adult and brings a young child's imagination to life on screen. I guess that's one reason why most of the characters are almost never interesting in any of the versions. We're not meant to be just watching the main characters, we're watching toys and Mother Goose characters live and breathe in this fascinating world. I still enjoy this movie to this day and remember my childhood every time.
Judging from the low rating and some of the comments, as well as some
scepticism of the idea working in an animated film, re-watching Babes
in Toyland for the first time since goodness knows how long was either
going to be better than remembered or be a disappointment. Seeing it, I
was really pleasantly surprised, Babes in Toyland is so much better
than anticipated and was actually a good movie, apart from the poorly
drawn characters of Rodrigo and Gonzargo and the story dragging a tad
in the middle. Of the four Babes in Toyland films, an unpopular opinion
as this may seem this is second only to the wonderful Laurel and Hardy
film, the Disney film was decent but one of the lesser live-action
musicals and the 1986 version was mediocre at best overall with a lot
of bad. The animation on the whole is bright and colourful- the
backgrounds and colours are a treat for the eye. And none of the rest
of the character designs being distractingly bad(Mary, Humpty Dumpty
and Barnaby are fluidly drawn), Toyland just looks so inviting and full
of life, with the goblin scene genuinely creepy-looking(but it is not
that upsetting or traumatising).
Regarding the songs they are just great with meaningful lyrics that say a lot especially the joyous and very catchy Toyland and the sublime duet It's You. March of the Toys was very rousingly orchestrated and served very well with the edge-on-your-seat finale. The only exception for me actually was A Crooked Man, which was rather forgettable and didn't tell or say very much(The Worst is Yet to Come did have its moments though it was slightly at odds with the style of the rest of the songs). Above all the singing is at the very least listenable(though Christopher Plummer basically speak-sings through A Crooked Man, though it probably did fit the song), Cathy Cavadini's amazingly beautiful voice in It's You deserves a big mention and Raphael Sbarge's is strong and sturdy.
They also, unlike something like Quest for Camelot, match the speaking voices(helped by that the voice actors sing their own music), for example Lacey Chabert singing in Dream sounds exactly like Lacey Chabert when she's speaking. Mark Watters' score is dynamic, memorable and lovingly compliments the mood of the whole story, not all the films that he writes for are great but his music is always one of the best assets. The script is never cloying which considering one of the material here was a big trap to fall into but has its fair share of heart-warming moments. The conflict is clear while not being too over-prominent and without making the film uneven, if there were any mean-spirited moments they weren't obvious to this viewer, while the 1986 Drew Barrymore version was full of them. The story, a loose adaptation and with some influences of Mother Goose, structurally is not an exceptional one and is a tad thin on the ground, however the real sense of charm and innocence and the warmth and magic- you actually want to live in Toyland- as well as what the characters go through surprisingly really draws you in. The romance between Mary and Tom is sweet and takes its time to develop, none of the love at first sight stuff.
In fact the characters mostly are very interesting, I found myself identifying every step of the way with Jack and Jill, they are cute but with enough backbone to not sugarcoat things, that they are determined and well-meaning makes them even more likable. Humpty Dumpty serves as a warm-natured narrator-character. Barnaby, looking like Moundshroud's(The Halloween Tree) long lost brother and acting like an even meaner Ebeneezer Scrooge, is a sinister villain but despite his appearance his villainy is far more subtle than in the Barnabys in the Disney and Barrymore versions(which veered to over-the-top, admittedly though in an enjoyable way). The goblins have a real creepiness. How the characters interact are also revelations, Mary and Tom's romance is the highlight though Barnaby is a very believable threat to Jack and Jill(who genuinely care for one another and also for Mary and Tom and the factory). Rodrigo and Gonzargo are the only not-so-interesting characters and that's mainly down to not enough screen-time, there's also the sense that they weren't even needed.
The voice acting is terrific, everybody sounds like they're having a lot of fun, Charles Nelson Reilly and Christopher Plummer(though his voice-work for the Duke in Rock-a-Doodle is better) being the standouts. Raphael Sbarge and Cathy Cavadini are highly emotive as are Joseph Ashton and Lacey Chabert. Bronson Pinchot and Jim Belushi do what they can but deserved better characters. Overall, so much better than was expected and of the four versions of Babes in Toyland this personally was second-best, the Laurel and Hardy one taking the top spot. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is my favorite version of Babes in Toyland.
Warning though this is not a film for very young children.
This film contains great big goblins and and evil goblin king, the elements can be more frightening that you would expect from a children's Christmas move. It didn't bother me but you need to think about your individual child some scare easier than others. This is one you may want to preview before letting a toddler watch.
That being said however I really loved this as a kid and went out and found it on purpose so I could share the magic with the kids in our family.
The mother goose land aspect of it is really fun for kids, there are a few really good songs in this as well.
I don't think you can say this is a rip off of Disney's version at all. This animated and Disney's was live action. Just because something isn't Disney doesn't mean it should be discarded.
If you enjoyed this you may like Gallavants The Nutcraker Prince
Some people probably know about the several Babes in Toyland movies
made throughout the years: the original 1934 Laurel and Hardy version
(which I haven't seen in its entirety yet), the absolutely HORRIBLE
1961 Disney version, the just okay 1986 TV version with Drew Barrymore,
and this 1997 animated version. To me, it is probably the BEST Babes In
Toyland movie that anybody will ever see! Moving right along, I saw
both the 1961 Disney version and this version at a young age and
looking back now, I feel that this version is far superior to the
atrocity made by Disney. I'll be happy to explain why and how. (And
just to prepare you, I will be comparing these two versions through
this review.) One review on here pointed out how this movie exceeds the
Disney movie in character development, music, songs, dialogue, etc.,
and I have to agree with them. But I'm not gonna copy what they said.
I'm just gonna put it in my own words.
First off, whereas the Disney version lacks a certain charm that makes it all around believable, this version adds a charm all its own which makes it entertaining, fairly believable, and enjoyable to watch.
Secondly, the characters in this film are more what you might say well-rounded in interaction and personality, meaning that they keep it all well-balanced as they provide some crucial contribution to the plot. The Disney film, on the other hand, has its characters more, um... monotone and straight-to-the-point in a bad kind of way.
Third, there's the romantic subplot of Tom and Mary. Now this is more a of a neutral comparison. In the Disney one, their romance is dead-straight on, while in this one, their romance is developed from secretive to clear. No comment there.
Fourth, Barnaby. The Barnaby in the Disney film played by Ray Bolger (The Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz"!) comes across as just plain annoying with no sinister seriousness. The Barnaby in this film voiced by Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp in "The Sound of Music"!) is fairly more sinister and serious with his motives, though I gotta admit, he does his share of annoyance, too.
Fifth, comparing the songs in both versions, this version has songs which are all all-around worth listening to, while in the Disney version, some songs are better than others.
Lastly, those who have seen all the Babes In Toyland movies probably know that all the movies' plots are different, but with that being said, I don't wanna spoil it for those who haven't seen this one. Forget all the other versions, ESPECIALLY the Disney one (!!!!!), get this version and watch it! It is, in my honest opinion, the most perfect Babes In Toyland film you'll ever see as long as you're living on this earth!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is animation at its best traditional "entertaining for kids and adults at the same time". There is so much in it, that I enjoy watching most of it with my son even for the 20th time in a couple of months. We both seem to get bored with one of the musical numbers. What hooked him initially was the opening train scene, which helped to get him into watching something other than Bob the Builder. Recently I loaned the disk to a friend whose toddler also went nuts for it. I highly recommended it. There is a part with goblins that might be scary for some kids, and there's a cat character that gets thrown around a bit more than I'd like to see presented as funny, and it's not as educational or ethnically diverse as it might be, but otherwise, it's great entertainment.
This was very very boring and lame, this should need some more happiness, kindness and entertainment to make it a great movie for all ages because it's about like 2 very clever kids who really know a way to save Christmas and escape a evil dark attic in an old crooked house and like every 10 or 20 minutes, the young kids keep returning to the attic. This movie is not really a Christmas movie, it's more like a dark nasty movie that makes it more like a Halloween movie like the attic and cave parts and stuff Even when I was 9 year old little girl I didn't like this. The music was great but the whole movie was just bad. The script was like out of the brain thing that even a 2 and a half year old probably wouldn't really like. I wasn't interested in the storyline either and some parts of the cover is unfair and incorrect, Jill had on a blue and white dress in the cover, but in the movie, she has on a type of Cinderella dress? Although she does look kind of cute in it and all she is one of my top cutest cartoon characters, but hey? Some of the characters look uncute and ugly, but whatever the movie is just plain weak and boring.
This mean-spiritied telling of a Christmas classic (!) is just plain bad movie-making--poor "acting," a confused and confusing plot, florid animation art, and a pack of goblin characters (what classic is this?) that will scare many a small child. Held to the Disney standard, this is a very poor stab at making movie magic.
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