Director: Jack Donohue

Starring: Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands, Ray Bolger

Year: 1961

Babes in Toyland is one of my childhood favorites, a film my sister & I watched dozens of times and memorized completely.  Sharing it with my kids years later feels like visiting a beloved grandparent and having them meet your children for the first time.  There’s something special about rewatching a classic with a new group, and it becomes doubly so when it’s received as well by them as you remember receiving it yourself all those years ago.  Their enjoyment of the story is an affirmation of sorts, a reminder of why you’ve loved it all these years.  And the very best even hold up enough to be watched and appreciated by adults, a category that this film definitely falls into.

In Mother Goose Village, and in the village square, all our favorite storybook characters come to life in a magical way that will delight all audiences.  There’s Bo Peep, Little Boy Blue, Willie Winkie, Jack and his candlestick; all the favorites.  And of course, in her garden, is Mary Quite Contrary, a beautiful maiden set to marry the handsome Tom Piper, a match that could not have been written more perfectly.  But above the town looms the evil Barnaby, and he has plans of his own.  He hires two bumbling criminals to kidnap Tom, throw him into the sea, and therefor allow Barnaby to wed Mary instead.  Don’t worry, the plot will soon be sniffed out, but when the children of the stories go missing in the Forest of No Return, the gang will have to travel to Toyland to rescue them, beginning an entirely new adventure.

Not only are the songs so wonderful, but they’ll stay with you forever, at least they have with me for 30 years.  The whole Beach Blanket Bingo vibe of the 60s is transferred perfectly here, with the iconic Annette and so many incredible vaudeville characters surrounding her.  Ray Bolger, who plays Barnaby and was also the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, is perfection and captured my attention even more as an adult.  We also can’t forget Ed Wynn of Mary Poppins fame, the amazing comedian, who lights up the stage every time he appears.  Then there are the youngsters, including some from another of my favorites, Swiss Family Robinson, rounding out the cast.  There’s basically nothing not to love about this movie; it’s a spectacle of epic and lovely proportions.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils