Thursday, September 9, 2021

#2,613. The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)


Based on Norton Juster’s 1961 children’s book, The Phantom Tollbooth is a (mostly) animated adventure that will likely appeal to kids under the age of 12.

Bored with life, young Milo (Butch Patrick, aka Eddie in The Munsters) is given the surprise of a lifetime when he’s whisked away to a magic kingdom, where words and numbers are at odds with one another and everything seems to be topsy-turvy.

Aided by a watchdog named Tock (voiced by Larry Thor) and a pretentious Humbug (Les Tremayne), Milo attempts to set things right by freeing the Princesses of Rhyme (Patti Gilbert) and Reason (June Foray), both of whom were banished to the Castle in the Sky.

Produced by Chuck Jones (who was also behind the excellent Rikki-Tikki-Tavi), The Phantom Tollbooth is a wildly creative animated film that teaches kids the value of words and numbers, as well as the power of positive thinking. During the course of his travels, Milo encounters dozens of characters, including the “Whether Man” (Daws Butler), Kakophanous A. Discord (Cliff Norton), and a race of lazy globules known as the Lethargians (Thurl Ravenscroft), all the while discovering how rewarding it can be to learn something new.

Though geared towards children, The Phantom Tollbooth has moments that will please older viewers as well (the scene where Chroma the Great, voiced by Shepard Menken, “conducts” the sunset is a definite highlight).
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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