Hey Kiddies! Your Unkle Lancifer and Aunt John found this nifty review from Kinderpal LaDracul stuck in our Christmas stocking this year! We had almost forgot what a weird trippy nightmare this made-for-television version of BABES IN TOYLAND is. Big thanks to LaDracul for reminding us!
Unlike the LAUREL & HARDY classic MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS or the 1961 Disney version with ANNETTE FUNICELLO, the T.V. version of BABES IN TOYLAND from 1986 was pretty darned scary. Nosferatu, compost monsters, a one eyed bird whose eye was like a crystal ball…what was this doing in a Christmas movie, you ask?
The story starts out with a girl named Lisa (DREW BARRYMORE) who is 11 and more concerned with being a homemaker rather than just being a kid. Her sister Mary (JILL SCHOELEN from POPCORN and the ROBERT ENGLUND version of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) works at a toyshop for her horrible boss Mr. Barney (RICHARD MULLIGAN from SOAP and EMPTY NEST) a guy who is dishonest and makes sexual advances on her. Ick. Also working there are Jack (a then unknown KEANU REEVES) and his friend George (GOOGY GRESS from STUCK ON YOU) who can’t stand their boss either. On Christmas Eve, a storm blows through their town of Cincinatti (which I’m wondering how many times it’s mentioned in this film), events similar to the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ take place, the four heroes are rushing home in Jack’s jeep when Lisa falls out on her new sled, hitting a tree and somehow landing in Toyland.
Toyland is filled with two groups: Nursery Rhyme people and Furries. Lots and lots of Furries. But the Furries aren’t the disturbing part. Lisa crash lands into a huge wedding cake meant for a wedding that’s not supposed to take place. A girl named Mary Contrary is being made to marry Barnaby Barnacle, a very unwashed old man who dresses like a Visual Kei artist and has two dumb, impervious to sunlight Nosferatu that sound like the Tasmanian Devil. The only reason Mary would even consent to this is because he owns her house, and he’s keeping her from the man she really likes, Jack Nimble, Jr. It turns out Barnaby is also Jack’s uncle, and is preventing him from rightfully taking over his late father’s cookie factory. And Barnaby has gone too far this time-he and the creepy Nosferatu have taken the cookies underground and blamed Jack for stealing them. Fortunately, Lisa is willing to do what’s right for her new friends, even breaking Jack out of jail.
But they all need help, so they go to the Toymaster (PAT effin’ MORITA), who’s revealed to them that he’s bottled up the essence of evil, to keep it in safe keeping. Of course, Barnaby finds this out through Trollog, this Cyclops bird that looks like a SID & MARTY KROFFT reject that has a crystal ball eye. So he’s sent his goons to capture the good guys and get the bottle, but Lisa outsmarts the bird by having it peck at their ropes, painting up its eye, and locking him in a trunk. Of course, this just makes Barnaby intent on making Lisa his new Trollog, and turning the others into monsters. But she’s determined not to let that happen as she sings that Cincinatti song from the beginning of the movie and then they’re all singing and break out to defeat the trolls, that look like compost heaps.
I’ll spare the details on what happens, but you get:
- The world’s worst go-cart chase
- KEANU punching out EMPTY NEST guy
- Happy Ending and Ending ripped off from THE WIZARD OF OZ
I was surprised to find out the late PAUL ZINDEL (who wrote a lot of terrific young adult books) was also the screenwriter. I don’t know why the filmmakers decided to blatantly rip off THE WIZARD OF OZ, but it was still better than THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS.