Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)

One of the best children's books comes to life in this animated feature.  The real world and the world beyond the tollbooth are distinctly separated.  The real world, only shown for a few minutes at the beginning and the end, is live action.  The rest of the movie takes place in the other world and is all animated.

The story:  Milo is a very bored child who randomly receives a gift in his house.  It's a tollbooth.  That is the strangest gift I have ever heard of.  He drives his toy car through the tollbooth and into adventure.
Milo is driving along, hoping to see the Castle in the Air.  He gets stuck in the Doldrums (where thinking is not allowed) and is rescued by the watchdog, Tock.  We encounter the town of Digitopolos (numbers and math) and Dictionopolos (letters and words).  We learn that everything's a mess because the two leaders have banished the princesses Rhyme and Reason.  Milo and Tock set out to rescue the princesses.

There's a lot missing from the book that could have made it into the movie.  I would have preferred a longer movie if it would have added these parts in.  It kind of seemed a little rushed towards the end.  Also, this movie was written and directed by Chuck Jones, so expect a lot of Looney Tunes type stuff.  Most of the Looney Tunes voice actors are at work too, and are easily recognizable.  Tock, the watchdog, looks like a larger version of Max from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The movie did a really nice job of showing the elements that made the book so enjoyable, which is hard for a book full of word puns.  Even though my daughter can't read the words yet, she really enjoyed watching this movie for the colorful characters and songs.  I will give this movie a 6/10.

Obligatory Adventure Time Picture!

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