[DVD] Movie Review – Disney’s Babes in Toyland

This is an older Disney movie musical starring Ray Bolger (also known as the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz), Ed Wynn, Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands. It is set in Toyland, the land of fairy tales and toymakers. But not all is fun and games as the evil Barnaby (Bolger) plots an evil deed with two hired thugs to turn a happy wedding upside down.

I first watched this movie as a child off a VHS tape, and now as an adult I own the DVD and still enjoy the songs especially The Forest of No Return, its a children only scene from the movie. But my favorite scene is the battle of good and evil at the end before everyone returns home to finally have a happy wedding.

There are also some slow love ballads between Tom (Sands) and Mary (Funicello) to show how devoted they are to each other and give some substance to the story. The unfortunate Toymaker (Wynn) gets caught in the middle of Barnaby’s plot, but ultimately he has a happy ending too.

Everytime I watch this movie I get a sense of nostalgia and suddenly wish I was a kid again.

Get it on Amazon

Series Review: Oz Series by L. Frank Baum

wizardofoz

If you’ve been following me, you’ll know that I finally finished reading all 15 of L. Frank Baum’s Oz series. Yes, there are 14 books that continue the story of Dorothy and her friends in the land of Oz. You can read them all as ebooks separately for free (or get the Kindle collection for 99 cents).  Or (as above) you can scour Barnes & Nobles for the three collective books. Now, onto some reviews (this gets long so be warned!).

The First Five Novels:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Book One) is the story we all know and love, thanks to the classic movie made in 1939. Its still one of my favorites, and introduces all the major characters. The movie follows the book pretty closely, so if you’ve never read the book but have seen the movie, you’ll be able to follow along without any problems.

In The Marvelous Land of Oz (Book Two) we meet some new characters that reappear throughout the series, most notably the Sawhorse and Jack Pumpkinhead. It’s another adventure through Munchkinland against Mombi, but more notable is General Jinjur and her all female army. We also finally meet the dethrowned leader of Oz, but in a most peculiar manner (this is a reason this is my second favorite Oz book).

Ozma of Oz is the third book, where we come upon the Nome King for the first time. Unfortunately he makes trouble for many citizens in Oz and does so reoccurringly for quite a few more books.

Book four, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, is a bit of a filler book. The author wanted to write a book for his fans and so included many of their suggestions in this book. Its a new adventure for Dorothy and the Wizard, they meet many new characters, but none of them return in any of the next books.

In The Road to Oz (Book Five) we meet more new characters as Dorothy travels through more of Oz. The Shaggy Man, Button Bright, and Polychrome (another favorite) are introduced, and all of them return in future books. We also have a return to Baum’s original writing style.

Novels Six Through Ten:

In The Emerald City of Oz (Book Six) Dorothy brings both her Aunt and Uncle over into Oz, where they can live there happily ever after. Dorothy always finds trouble and ends up lost, while the Nome King returns to wreck some havoc on the citizen of Oz. I liked that Dorothy finally brought her relatives to live with her, and that is an important plot point in the series.

Book Seven: The Patchwork Girl of Oz (Book Seven) obviously introduces us to a new character, but Ojo is the star character(?). However, the Patchwork Girl and another new character (the Glass Cat) are the ones who return for another adventure. By this point, Baum is introducing new characters in each book, forgetting some along the way, something I don’t care for.

More friends arrive in Book Eight, Tik-Tok of Oz, and the return of the Shaggy Man who wishes to rescue his brother from, you know who, the Nome King. At least Dorothy and Ozma have a new playmate from Oklahoma (Betsy Bobbin, who returns in further books).

The Scarecrow of Oz (Book Nine) helps newly arrived friends from another Baum series, which makes this book a crossover (though I’ve never read that series). I’ve never read that series, but it makes this book very similar to Book Seven, and Book Four, and maybe some others.

I have a blog post review of Book Ten: Rinkitink in Oz , so I won’t go over it too much here, but it’s almost a stand alone book in this series.

Novels Eleven Through Fifteen:

I have blog post reviews of the last five novels, so I’ll sum this all up quickly. In Book Eleven Ozma is kidnapped and everyone (nearly) comes to her rescue, in  Book Tweleve, the Tin Woodman finally remembers his Munchkin sweetheart, Book Thirteen is Ozma’s party and final end to the Nome King, and in Book Fourteen Dorothy is kidnapped and then rescued. Book Fifteen is a short story collection that fills in some holes from the series. Below are links to reviews I’ve already done:

Overall Thoughts:

Most of you will be quite happy just to read the first book and leave it as such. After all the first book is the most popular having been made into movies on several occasions (The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz, Tin Man, etc) and therefore the most well known.

Some will want to know what happened next, and boy, is there a next. Fourteen books of next even. If you are a serious Oz fan that you might not be disappointed, but do be aware that the books repeat storylines, have enough characters that you’ll need a chart to keep track of them all (hey, there’s a thought), and become a bit predictable and anticlimactic after awhile.

Having said all that, I’ll probably read through this series again (and make that chart!).

[DVD] Movie Review – The Wizard of OZ

Another classic from my childhood and a book series I undertook reading a couple of years ago. The Wizard of Oz is a classic in many ways and many of you will already know the movie itself. After all, Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a beautiful, iconic song that can stand on it’s own, and Judy Garland does it justice.

Alongside Miss Garland, Ray Bolger, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Charley Grapewin, Pat Walshe, and Clara Bandick star is this wonderful children’s movie.

I was even an extra in my school’s rendition of The Wizard of Oz. I always found the forest of the Cowardly Lion and the first visit to the Wizard two of the scariest parts of the movie. My favorite part is the ending, where Dorothy makes it home after her friends have found their own rewards.

If you’ve never heard Judy Garland sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, you are missing out and therefore I provide you the opportunity to correct this. And for those of you who have already heard this song, I offer you a repeat chorus.

Get it on Amazon

[Netflix] Movie Review – Mary and the Witch’s Flower

This movie that I stumbled upon on Netflix is based on a children’s book, The Little Broomstick, by Mary Stewart. Now I haven’t read this, and didn’t even know about growing up, but I found it on Amazon and put it on my wish list.

After watching the movie, I know how the “little broomstick” fits in. This is an anime type animated film from Studio Ghibli (a Disney company). I have and do watch Anime on a semi-regular basis, so this is nothing new for me.

I love that the kids are the stars and the adults are evil (well some of them). This is another movie where the kids are clearly underestimated by the adults who think they know better.

Even though Mary is the main character, I’d like to make an official petition for the Little Broomstick, which makes such a valiant effort throughout the entire movie, and it’s the name of the book the movie is based on.

If you have Netflix, I suggest a watch of this fantastic movie.

[DVD] Movie Review – Bedknobs & Broomsticks

 

I watched this growing up, and it’s part of why I love movies that blend live action and animation (see Who Framed Roger Rabbit or The Incredible Mr. Limpet). Movies don’t really do this anymore, if needed there is 3D animation for characters that can’t be actors.

Anyway, I also really like Angela Lansbury, and this is a young Angela. Also David Tomlinson is a treasure and really should have been in more Disney movies. There is a lot of nostalgia here for me, and so that is my bias here. Fair warning.

The Isle of Naboombu is a great sequence, and I love the ending where she finalizes the last spell to fight off the invaders (this movie takes place in WWII fyi). And, of course, since it’s Disney there’s a variety of lovely songs and dances to go along with the action.

 

[DVD] Movie Review – Coraline

Coraline is a novel by Neil Gaiman, who is known for his dark fantasy work. This movie is pretty much just that, an animated dark fantasy, that almost borders on non-child-friendly.

Dakota Fanning voices Coraline Jones the main character, with Jennifer Saunders as a supporting character, and various others filling out the cast. Wybie is a extra character not found in the book, so that Coraline wouldn’t have to talk to herself.

I’ll remind everyone that I like dark movies (see Gothika) and this is a dark movie. To me animated dark movies are maybe a little too scary for their targeted audiences, so if you’re a parent maybe watch it before you show it to your kids.

Having said all that, I like this movie. I happen to like movies where the child fights for their parents. I do believe children are underestimated quite a lot of the time, so when the plot has the child as the savior I think it rocks. All the characters have parts to play, which I like too. They aren’t just shuffled to the side, they add to the story.

Again, I like this movie, and now I want to read the book!

Little Wizard Stories by L. Frank Baum

Little Wizard Stories of Oz (Oz Series)Little Wizard Stories of Oz by L. Frank Baum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Different book representatives put this book as either #15 in the series, or #7.5. Either way the 6 short stories in this book do not have a place in the events of the full story books. My collection of Oz stories has this book as #15, so it’s the last book in my series.

The six short stories are all less than 10 pages long and my copy has a lot of pictures as well. So these would almost be flash fiction stories. Each story follows a different set of characters through a mini adventure in Oz.

The Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger get tired of being docile, Dorothy and Toto go exploring, Tik-Tok has a run-in with the Nome King, Ozma and the Wizard check on their subjects, Jack Pumpkinhead and the Saw-Horse go on a rescue mission, and Scarecrow and Tin Woodman have an accident.

They’re quick, they’re cute, and I liked reading them.

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