Babes In Toyland (1997, animated)
Sound: C+ Extras: D Film: C
The tale of Babes In Toyland has never been a big
hit, though a famous live-action film exists from 1934 with Laurel and Hardy
that many consider definitive, also known as March of the Wooden
Soldiers. Disney had
less success in 1961 with an animated version, and Don Bluth produced this
second animated version with MGM in 1997 that is even less distinguished. If the overly simple cherub-like animated
style Bluth uses in his own distinct way that always seems dated is not problem
enough, it is very removed from the original Victor Herbert/Glen MacDonough
operetta. If anything, the songs are
rushed through and make The Disney Channel singers sound like pure Gospel by comparison.
That’s a shame, because there has always been
potential in this material for a new production and only a phobia about Opera
and art have stopped this from happening.
Voices include those of James Belushi, Lacey Chabert, Christopher
Plummer, Bronson Pinchot and as a talking, wise-cracking egg (pun intended),
Charles Nelson Reilly. Best known for
the TV Ghost & Mrs. Muir and a
famous ad campaign for Bic Banana Pens, Reilly became immortalized as a
wisecracking regular on the original version of TV’s Match Game. This may
be a talented enough cast of known voice actors, but the missed opportunity in
using Reilly to the fullest is a huge missed opportunity that could have helped
this become at least some kind of sleeper or cult item. Alas, it is too dull and standardized for
its own good. In it, kids go to a toy
factory and into a supposedly happier world of fun and plenty, until the
villain shows up. Yawn. The talent here, especially in Reilly’s
case, could have had fun with an all too familiar situation. Too bad.
The 1.33 X 1 full frame image is clean and some of
the colors are interesting, but it is nothing spectacular either, with some
colors looking too flat for their own good.
The sound is credited as “surround sound” only on the print and is here
in English, French & Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic
surrounds. It looks like this may have
begun as a Dolby A-type analog production mix before that idea was thrown out,
when Dolby’s own records are consulted.
The only extra is the trailer, which shows no sound logo either. Very young children may find something in
this one, but it is one to skip otherwise.