November 30, 2016

Babes in Toyland (1961)

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Welcome to the first episode of Holiday Moviepalooza 2016! Until Christmas, the guys are going to watch and talk about holiday movies! And to start it off, Larry picked Disney's 1961 remake of the holiday classic, Babes in Toyland, starring Ray Bolger, Tommy Sands, Annette Funicello, Ed Wynn, Tommy Kirk, Henry Calvin, Gene Sheldon, Mary McCarty, and Ann Jillian in her first role.

Mary Contrary (Funicello) and Tom Piper (Tommy Sands) are in love. Not just the "holding hands, frantic groping under the bleachers, end up pregnant after the prop" kind of love, but the super saccharine, diabetes-causing kind of love that makes friends uncomfortable when they go out together in public and leads to resentment and bitter divorce later in life. And all seems to be going well, despite Mary having to care for a gaggle of kids (including Ann Jillian as Bo Peep) that do not, as best as the guys can tell, actually belong to her.

Look at 'em, all over each other like heathens...
Tommy wants Mary to be his betrothed, and she seems into it, but there is one major bump in that road: Barnaby (Bolger), who is the richest guy in all the land, which may or may not be Spain. He knows that Mary inherited a big pile of money and wants to get his hands on it. The only way for that to happen is to convince Mary to wed him. Unfortunately, he is a horrible, unpleasant man and she is a young, attractive woman with everything going her way, aside from the bottomless stomach that is half a dozen small children depending on her, and no visible means with which to feed it. But, you know...Love and junk.

Barnaby needs Tom out of the way in order to get Mary to himself, so he hires two bumbling nincompoops, Gonzorgo (Calvin) and Roderigo (Sheldon), to make that happen. He wants them to kidnap Tom and throw him into the sea. The first half of the plan is executed with very few problems. However, Gonzorgo gets greedy and diverts their journey to the sea so he and Roderigo can sell Tom to the gypsies in the forest, thus being paid twice for one job.

They have this weird, 50 Shades thing going on...
Upon Gonzorgo and Roderigo returning back to town and informing Mary that Tom was "lost at sea", Barnaby scoots in and asks for Mary's hand. She is reticent, but when she has a weird LSD fever dream while worrying about paying her bills, she begins to consider it. Fotunately, she is saved from making the second major mistake of her life (marrying Barnaby) by the return of the first major mistake of her life (Tom), who is brought back by the gypsies, albeit in a weird disguise that is completely unnecessary, as he removes it almost instantly in front of anyone who would have been angry to see him.

Curses! Cock-blocked again!
Barnaby, thus defeated, sends Gonzorgo and Roderigo to steal Bo Peep's sheep for some reason, prompting the kids to go looking for them in the Forest of No Return. Once there, they are harassed and taken hostage by a group of creepy trees that sing at them a lot.

Mary and Tom, finding a note from the kids, go off into the forest to find them, and when they do, the trees pretend to not be all murdery, and Tom decides they can camp there for the night. When the sun comes up the next morning, the trees scream and demand that the entire group turn itself over to the Toymaker (Wynn) in Toyland. And it only took two-thirds of the film to get there!

Trees can, as has been noted before, be real dicks sometimes.
When they get to Toyland, they meet Grumio (Kirk), an inventor who assists the Toymaker, just in time to have one of the inventions, a fast toy making machine, almost kill all of them because the Toymaker, lacking any mechanical abilities whatsoever, tries to make the machine build four million toys at once. Now unable to meet the Christmas deadline, the Toymaker blames everything on Grumio and suggests he kill himself. Disney could get really dark sometimes.

Mary, Tom, and the kids offer their services as toy builders to help the Toymaker get things done, but Barnaby and his two thugs show up and cause what would best be described as a "kerfluffle" after they get their hands on Grumio's latest invention, a shrinking gun designed to make full-sized things toy-sized. How that's supposed to save time is never explained. Go figure.

Be careful with the chemicals in the meth lab, Ed!
What follows is a horrible, graphic battle between the forces of good(-ish) and evil. Will Tom and Mary save the kids and get back to town so they can be married? Will Barnaby use Gonzorgo and Roderigo as human shields in order to save himself? Will the Toymaker continue mentally abusing Grumio, goading him into finally ending it all at his own hands? Will the dance scenes ever end?

Larry is terribly, terribly sorry to anyone who watched this movie thinking it wouldn't be all that bad. He suggests, however, that you imagine a gritty and dark horror remake as you watch, and maybe throw together a script. Who knows? It might get picked up. He also inexplicably lashes out at Carly Simon for some reason.

Derek puts Disney on notice for their horrible live-action musicals. Oh, sure, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Mary Poppins might be okay, but they are the exception to the rule. He also questions the life choices Tommy Kirk has made in his career. But that Annette Funicello...she's cool. Ed Wynn, too.

Jake believes Disney has a continuing obsession with sex, pointing out that the sign in the scene where Gonzorgo and Roderigo decide to sell Tom to the gypsies says "This way to the sea" actually kinda looks like it says "This way to the sex". He also hates the goose that Mother Goose (McCarty) carries around everywhere. No goose should have a knuckle inits neck.

So suspend your disbelief, take a bunch of drugs, and listen to this week's podcast!