Fractured Fairy Tales
I’m working on my next review for you guys, and while that’s being polished up real purty-like, I thought I’d take the time to share my latest strange movie obsession: Bad fairy tale adaptations. Okay. Maybe not super bad, but iffy. Very much meh-worthy.
The local This-TV channel shows family films on Saturday mornings. Lately, they’ve been fairy tales, and of course, I’ve been enjoying them whilst sipping on my coffee. So here are a couple quick thoughts on the two I’ve recently watched:
Puss in Boots (1988) starring Jason Connery, and Christopher Walken (I know!!!!!). I know I gave Connery a hard time when I reviewed his performance in the lackluster Lightspeed, but he more than makes up for it in this. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t Death of a Salesman or anything, but Connery’s performance of the miller’s son who pretends to be a nobleman in order to win the heart of the princess is a good one. And because the movie is a musical, Connery gets to sing (just like dear old dad did in Darby O’Gill and the Little People). He carries a tune nicely.
Now that we’ve got that out-of-the-way, let’s discuss Walken. First of all, how ever did he find his way into this movie? Secondly, he’s great as the cat who coaches Connery’s character and sweet talks his way into the king’s good graces. And he sings as well! In fact, he gets five songs in this movie. I really enjoyed watching Walken take over any scene he was in. He’s just so cool.
The Frog Prince (1986) starring Aileen Quinn (Annie) and Helen Hunt. In this version of the classic fairy tale, Quinn and Hunt play sisters who are being raised by their uncle the king. The sisters are vying for the title of “Princess” and an official judge is on his way to decide who gets the honor. Hunt’s character is the older, more beautiful sister. She’s also cold-hearted and very vain. Quinn’s character is the younger, awkward sister. She tries really heard to be beautiful and poised like Hunt, but usually fails. However, due to her goodness, she’s her uncle’s favorite. The frog prince is actually a full-grown man in pretty interesting frog makeup. He befriends Quinn and decides to help her prepare for the judging.
I saw this version of the story many years ago, and remember enjoying it. I just rewatched it last week, and though it’s very dated and I think my eyes might have rolled out of my head a few times, I found it to be a good waste of two hours. Like Puss in Boots, The Frog Prince was also sing-songy. Quinn sings a lot (which is fine, cause she’s Annie after all) and Hunt doesn’t sing once (which is also fine because I’ve never heard her sing and there might be a good reason for that). The frog prince guy gets his fair share of musical numbers too.
This movie, though entertaining, errs on the side of cheesy many, many times. For example, Quinn’s golden ball (the one the frog fetches for her early in the story) isn’t just lucky. Nay! It’s magical! So several times we hear the frog-man request of it things such as “Oh lucky ball, please help us find a way into the palace.” Also, once the frog is a dude again, he looks funny. But again, that could be because it’s so dated.
The studio that made both of these movies is The Cannon Group (the series listed as Cannon Movie Tales). According to Wikipedia there are seven other fairy tale movies that they’ve released in the 1980s. I know I’ve caught a few minutes of Beauty and the Beast starring Rebecca De Mornay and also part of Sleeping Beauty starring the delightful Kenny Baker as a kindly elf and Morgan Fairchild (of all people) as the queen. She sings.
Netflix doesn’t seem to have these in their dvd collection (unsure about streaming) so I guess I’ll have to find these on TV as they come along. Now that I’ve discovered them, I must see them all regardless of stupid songs and 80s hair. It’s a quest!