In the Redwood Forests of California, a multi-millionaire lumberman and his two young grandchildren encounter two gnomes who are supposedly the last of their kind.In the Redwood Forests of California, a multi-millionaire lumberman and his two young grandchildren encounter two gnomes who are supposedly the last of their kind.In the Redwood Forests of California, a multi-millionaire lumberman and his two young grandchildren encounter two gnomes who are supposedly the last of their kind.
Rodney (Matthew Garber) and Elizabeth (Karen Dotrice) arrive in San Francisco to meet up with their grandfather D.J Mulrooney (Walter Brennan), who runs a successful lumber company. They drive out to a redwood forest for a picnic, where Elizabeth happens across a gnome named Jasper (Tom Lowell), who begs her for help. Seems Jasper's grandpa Knobby (Brennan, again) is on the verge of death-by-depression because he thinks that he and Jasper are the world's only remaining gnomes and has lost all hope of seeing young Jasper finding a wife. Rodney, Elizabeth and D.J agree to help the gnomes by driving them to other forests further up the coast. En route, an opportunistic freak-show boss, Quaxton (Sean McClory), catches a glimpse of the gnomes and kidnaps them for his carnival. Matters worsen when D.J tries to get his own security agents to lead the hunt for the kidnapped gnomes, for they dismiss his orders as the ramblings of a mad-man and have him locked away in an asylum. Rodney and Elizabeth are the only ones who can free their grandfather, rescue the gnomes, and find a bride for Jasper before it's too late!
Generally-speaking the film is likable and entertaining. Brennan is always a pleasure to watch and this is no exception (in fact, a double-pleasure as he has a dual role). Both child-actors are pretty good, especially Garber who demonstrates an understanding of comic timing/underplaying that most kids just don't have. The special effects are impressive for 1967, with convincing visual trick work to have the gnomes interacting with the humans, and some well done talking-animal-scenes at the beginning of the film. There are a few drawbacks. The title song 'Gnome-Mobile' is truly horrible, and McClory's villain isn't built up enough to make him a hissable bad guy. He just sort of appears in a few scenes looking shady, then disappears from the story without his role in it amounting to very much.
On the whole, I like The Gnome-Mobile. It's harmless fun, with an inventive plot, enjoyable performances and lots of agreeably zany episodes.
- Mar 15, 2005