(DISCLAIMER: All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White
Previously on Unshaved Mouse: After months of ominous threats and warnings, Mouse finally came face to face with his most determined enemy yet; the mysterious, lethal, Blucatt. Blucatt brutally murdered Gangsta Asia and then revealed himself to be none other than legendary animator Don Bluth, who accused Mouse of destroying him as an animator, a charge which Mouse shockingly did not deny…
“SHUT. UP. Shut up. You’ve been stalling for two weeks. Now tell everyone why it’s your fault that my movies suck.”
Alright. Alright. I knew this day would come. I’ve talked about Don Bluth on this blog before, mostly in the American Tail review and in passing when I covered The Fox and the Hound. But now it’s time to talk about Bluth’s legacy as an animator and how that legacy was destroyed by many factors.
“By many factors of which I was one.”
“Funny, I don’t really remember there being that many factors.”
Okay, animation history time. Don Bluth split from Disney halfway through production of The Fox and the Hound, taking a good chunk of the Disney animation team with him.
He told them they were going to pick apples. They never got to pick apples.
Now this group was known as Don Bluth Productions (and then later on as the Bluth Group) and in 1982 they released Bluth’s first directorial feature, the now legendary Secret of NIMH
had critics slavering all over it but died at the box-office as it only had a limited release and was released during one of the best years in history for genre movies
There is no shame in losing to ET.
In fact, between ET walloping NIMH at the box-office and an industry wide animators-strike, Bluth had to declare bankruptcy. NIMH was therefore a once-off. Don Bluth Productions did not release any other feature length animations; the rest of their output during this period was stuff for TV like Banjo The Woodpile Cat (no, I’m not reviewing it. I’m done with cartoon cats for a good long while), the computer games Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace and animated sequences for the movie Xanadu. Most of what people consider “Don Bluth movies” were actually made by a company called Sullivan Bluth. Well, you all know who Bluth is, who the fruck was Sullivan? Sit down and I’ll learn ya.
By 1983 Bluth had managed to turn things around thanks largely to the phenomenal success of Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace.Sure, they played like mules on Quaaludes but those games looked a good two decades ahead of anything else on the market. But then, the video game market imploded in late ’83/early ’84 thanks in no small part to the white-hot grease fire of pure failure that was the Atari tie-licence game of…ET.
Man, Don Bluth must have hated that alien so much.
“He’s next on my list”
This left Bluth bankrupt again and it’s at about this point in the story that Sullivan enters the picture. Morris Sullivan was an Irish-American businessman who was also an avid cartoon nut who decided to invest in Bluth. To bring down costs and also to avoid the kind of industrial disputes that had plagued NIMH (and were also causing trouble for the early production of An American Tail) Sullivan convinced Bluth to move the newly formed Sullivan Bluth Studios to Dublin, Ireland*. This was pretty much the big bang for Irish animation, and the impact is still being felt to this day. Bluth set up an animation course at Ballyfermot Senior College that trained a whole generation of Irish animators. Nor was Bluth by any means the only animation company that set up shop here to take advantage of generous government support and an underemployed, English speaking workforce desperate for wages to pay the landlords and their thrice cursed gombeens.
The Bluth Animators circa 1989.
They were daycent, hardworking animators. Quick with their fists, and quicker with their brushes. Why, you might even have heard of some of the movies and TV shows they created…
Remember this little thing? Rather popular at the time if you can believe it.
So, what’s all this got to do with little ol’ Mouse? Well, Sullivan Bluth employed hundreds of Irish people and one of those was my aunt**. So I guess you could say I had a very personal relationship with these movies growing up. I was able to hold the original cels from An American Tail and Land Before Time that my aunt kept around the house. I was at the European premiere of An American Tailin Dublin with my massive plushy Fievel Mousekewitz and wearing a Sullivan Bluth An American Tail kid’s T-shirt.
I saw all of Don Bluth’s movies. And the weird thing about that is I saw them even though they all TERRIFIED THE SHIT OUT OF ME LIKE RIGHT OUT SHIT EVERYWHERE.
I mean, I’ve already told you what a nervous child I was.
“I believe the term is “snivelling coward”.”
So how do you think I handled this?
These movies were not fun for me! They were endurance tests! Which is why…
Okay, so…you’ve all heard of Rock A Doodle? You know the bits at the beginning in live action with the little blonde kid who makes Jake Lloyd look like Laurence Olivier? What you probably don’t know is that originally that movie was going to be all-animation. So, like when they brought deer and lions into the studio at Disney when they were making Bambi and Lion King, Don Bluth had a load of kids brought into the studio to run around and tumble and generally act like little idiots so that the animators could get an idea of how kids walk and run and act like little idiots.
And…I was one of those little idiots...
And it was during this child-zoo that I found myself face to face with Don Bluth. And I told him his movies were too scary.
Now, you gotta understand, by then the Disney renaissance had started and Bluth had just been pummelled by Oliver and Company
and The Little Mermaid.
Things were looking grim and I can only imagine that Bluth was trying desperately to figure out a way to get back in the lead. Something, anything. And here’s a member of his target audience telling him to his face that his movies are just too damn scary.
Shortly after that, pre-production started on Thumbelina.
Guys, I’m sorry.
I am so, so sorry.
“After that everything fell apart. My movies became saccharine dreck. It was like I was cursed. That’s when the Horned King approached me. He offered to give me a world where I could rule for all time and all I had to do was slowly torture you for all eternity. It was win win. Win fucking win. But you couldn’t even let me have that, could you? You had to escape and ruin everything.””
“Look Don, I don’t know what to say. I was a stupid kid. I didn’’t know what I was talking about.”
“Alright. Well, the important thing is that you learned your lesson. Bye.”
“Really, that’s it?”
““HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…no. No, revenge will be mine. You’re going to review A Troll in Central Park.”
“Never heard of it.””
“Stanley’s Magic Garden.”
Oh God not this one. I really should just, y’know, stay away from the internet on April Fool’s day. It never goes well for me.
Animation fans can rarely agree on anything but you would be really hard pressed to find one who doesn’t think that this is the worst movie Don Bluth ever made. I mean, it’s not even CLOSE. Thumbelina? Sure, it’s a blatant Disney rip-off but it’s got a great voice cast and some really nice animation. Pebble and the Penguin? Pah! It was just ahead of its time! It paved the way for Happy Feet, Happy Feet 2, Surf’s Up, Penguins of Madagascar…it practically created a sub-genre! Anastasia? Sure it’s a blatant Disney ripoff but it’s got a great voice cast and some really nice animation. No, Stanley’s Magic Garden is a whole different level of awful. Sorry, I mean, A Troll in Central Park. It was released in Europe under a different title because over here we get really confused when the names of movies reference places in America. Movies get renamed here all the time.
The movie begins in the Kingdom of the Trolls.
We go from cautious optimism to straight up despair in near record time as the very first frame is just a still background of the exterior of the Goblin Queen’s castle. There’s two trolls on sentry duty but he’s clearly just painted in as part of the scenery. There is, in short, no animation in the opening seconds of this animation. It’s dull, lifeless, ugly, only passably drawn and perfectly sets up a movie that is the equivalent of having your face slowly dragged across a concrete floor while being force-fed sugar lumps. Our main character, Stanley sneaks through the kingdom trying not to be seen by the other trolls.
Ah. The oft forgotten eighth dwarf. Shitty.
Stanley is voiced by Dom DeLuise…
Take a shot.
…in his last role in a Don Bluth movie. DeLuise is kind of a marmite actor for me. Give him good material and he can be genuinely funny and even really effective as a dramatic actor (seriously, go back and watch some of his scenes in All Dogs go to Heaven). But he’s not exactly a performer who can elevate bad material and he has a tendency to fall back on lame schtick. This movie gives him zero to work with and he responds with EVERY SINGLE infuriating “DeLuisism”. That wheezy high-pitched “Aaa-HAH”? Check. The over earnest breathy delivery like he’s reciting a story to pre-schoolers? Check. Laughing heartily at his own jokes? Check. Forgetting to actually TELL a joke? Check. The infuriating, off-brand version of the Goofy holler? All this and more can be yours!
As for Stanley, the character design manages to hit the sweet spot of being horribly ugly while also being weirdly bland and generic. Even if the performances, script and songs weren’t totally awful this movie would still be Bluth’s ugliest and worst animated by a country mile. Apparently during the production Bluth told a bunch of his animators to either give their best work or “go plant themselves in another garden” and after smiling and nodding and saying “Oh I get it, because this is a movie about flowers. That’s clever” they went out of that room motivated. And kept going. Out of the building. To work at Disney. Because fuck this movie.
Alright so we see why Stanley is being so secretive. Deep in his basement he’s been growing flowers which is illegal in the Kingdom of the Trolls.
“Father, please. Give us sunlight or let us die.”
I actually find the whole concept of Stanley kinda terrifying. See, Stanley has a green thumb, an actual, literal green thumb that he can use to create flowers at will. And these aren’t just any normal flowers, they’re actual sentient beings with eyes and voices and personalities (well….kinda). And Stanley is bringing these ensouled beings into existence just…because. Because he think’s they’re pretty? To amuse himself? That’s not sweet or endearing. That’s reckless and despicable. Stanley is an imbecile with the powers of a god.
Anyway Stanley blows his cover by growing a huge rose (and in the interest of fairness I will say that the animation for this one sequence is actually quite lovely) which bursts out of his house and brings the troll army down on his head faster than a change to Wonder Woman’s costume. Stanley is brought before Gnorga, Queen of the Trolls.
“Don’t even THINK about it Mouse.”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”
Gnorga is voiced by Cloris Leachman…
Ahem. Gnorga is voiced by Cloris Leachman…
God that is such a good movie. And she is so good in it. Which makes me wonder how the hell she gives such a terrible performance here. Gnorga isn’t funny and she isn’t threatening. She’s just awful. Leachman’s performance is like a thundercloud, big and loud and shapeless and totally lacking in any real substance. Charles Nelson Reilly is better as her husband King Llort, in fact he’s pretty much the best actor in this whole thing, but only because he seems to be actually trying to make this turkey fly. Alright, so Stanley is brought before the king and queen and Llort says that since Stanley has repeatedly broken the rules about creating unholy Moreau-esque plant creatures they’re going to have to throw the book at him. And, honestly? This seems like kind of a progressive justice system. They caught him doing this shit before and let him off with a caution? Is this a kingdom of evil or Massachucets?
But Gnorga, the “Scalia” of the troll judiciary, wants to turn him to stone saying “He is kind (false), he is good (false), he is gentle (more “passive” than “gentle”) and he is giving a bad name to trolls everywhere (unquestionably true).”
Can I just take a brief detour and say that the Troll Kingdom and its moral code make absolutely no fucking sense? It’s supposed to be a “black is white” kind of place where bad is good and good is bad, but then why is it a problem that Stanley is giving trolls a “bad” name? Surely he should be giving them a good name? Which would be bad? Which would be good? Which would be bad? Which would be good? Which would be bad? Which would be good? Which would be bad?
Sorry, I had to reboot my brain. Gnorga orders Llort to turn him to stone but instead he suggests they make an example of him by banishing him to a place where nothing green grows. Llort chooses New York.
Good call dude.
So I’m going to overlook the fact that that’s stupid and also that Llort’s argument basically boils down to “instead of doing something awful to him let’s do something even worse to him by doing something not nearly as bad to him”. Why? Well, you could make the argument that Llort is actually a pretty decent guy and is trying to protect Stanley from the worst excesses of Gnorga’s rule. Trust me, there’s more than enough suck in this movie that if I stopped to slam it over every tiny little thing we’d be here all year.
Gnorga’s convinced and encases Stanley into a ball of rock which blasts into the sky and flies over New York, narrowly missing the Twin Towers. Hey conspiracy nuts! Don Bluth caused 9/11!
I mean, what more proof could you possibly need?!
He crash lands and then there is a full TWO MINUTES of Stanley just running around New York getting chased by various animals and vehicles and getting into all kinds of “hilarious” scrapes and giving Dom DeLuise a chance to really do some impressive work on my last nerve by running through his entire collection of mediocre Three Stooges impression sounds. This is a BIG problem with this movie. It’s not really that long, (hell, by today’s standards a one hour and twelve minute runtime practically qualifies as a short) but there’s enough actual plot for maybe twenty minutes, tops. The rest is just some of the most uninspired filler that has ever been committed to film. Terrible dance numbers. Awful songs. A comic wasteland where half-formed bits of comedic business shuffle along on stunted limbs before their jumbled misshapen organs finally pack in and they die, wheezing in agony beneath a pitiless red sun (and I’m sugar coating it, guys, I really am). Anyway, Stanley ends up in the natural place for a troll in the pre-YouTube comments era; under a bridge. Oh, I should also add that Stanley has the power to turn anywhere into a TARDIS. He goes into a small hole under a regular sized bridge but beneath it is a cavern you could stack Cathedrals in like firewood.
Meanwhile in New York we meet Gus (Philip Glasser) and his little sister Rosie (Tawny Sunshine Glover). They’re both…a very nice young lady and gentleman who are doing their best. I would actually break my rule on ripping on child actors this one time but I already was pretty harsh on Glasser during the American Tail Review and Glover’s parents actually named her Tawny Sunshine so…yeah, she’s suffered enough. Gus is an insufferable brat who’s looking forward to going to Central Park with his dad to try out his new radio controlled boat. But his dad Alan (Jonathan Pryce) tells him he can’t go because he’s got a very big important case. That’s what he says, at least. The guy’s probably not even a lawyer. Also, he’s definitely not American as Jonathan Pryce is apparently trying to be the Bizzarro Dick Van Dyke. Seriously, that is one bad American accent. I could do better than that!
“Yeehaw pardners! The Middle East is burning and no one seems to know if I’m invading too much or not enough!”
Alright, so Gus throws a hissy fit, asking why they never get to do what he wants to do. Alan leaves and Hilary, Gus’ mother, tries to explain that to afford to live in New York their father has to work so hard that he literally never sees them. Hilary is voiced by Hayley Mills, clearly trying to be the Bizzaro…Supergirl…Dick Van…look, her accent sucks too, okay? Understandable, of course. So they cast a British woman in an American role. There’s like, what? Three American women working as actors? Four maybe? Stop being so unreasonable.
Gus asks his mother if she can float his boat…
That is quoted verbatim by the way and she says no because she…um…she’s a real estate agent! Yeah! That’s it! And she’s got to…sell a house! So she leaves them both in the care of the housekeeper, Maria (oh it’s fine. She’s such a dear. Maria. She’s hispanic. They don’t mind.).
One day, Maria’s going to write a book about this place.
Gus decides to go to Central Park and drags his two-year old sister along for the ride. It’s about this time that the movie decides “oh man, I’ve introduced four new characters and actually advanced the story in less than five minutes, I should slow down before I hurt myself” and we get another few minutes of the kids putzing around Central Park. Rosie gets a bunch of balloons and starts flying around.
As someone who has been lifting toddlers semi-professionally for almost three years: Bull and Shit.
Maybe Rosie has hollow bones like a bird. Alright, so obviously Gus and Rosie are going to meet up with Stanley so, how would a movie with such a short run time get our three heroes to meet in a way that feels organic but is also narratively efficient, to the point and interesting?
No idea, let’s see how this movie does it.
- Pointless unfunny comic business between Gus and Rosie.
- Pointless unfunny comic business between Stanley and a stoned looking squirrel.
- Pointless unfunny comic business between Rosie and a butterfly.
- Pointless unfunny comic business between Rosie, Stanley and a Frog.
- Pointless unfunny comic business between Gus and the Frog.
- Pointless unfunny comic business between Rosie, Stanley and a sentient flower that he brings into existence just to amuse her.
- A song that has to be heard to be believed.
- Gus is now under the bridge with Stanley and Rosie and the movie can continue once the audience has been poked with a waking broom.
Actually let’s just get back to point six there. Stanley brings a walking, talking, intelligent being into existence to do a job normally left to a set of jangling car keys. Anyone here watch Rick and Morty? There’s an episode where Rick creates a robot to pass the butter at mealtimes. The robot asks Rick what his function is and Rick says “You pass butter” at which point the robot stares at his hands and despairingly murmurs “Oh my God.”
See, Rick is supposed to be an awful, awful, awful human being.
Anyway Rosie gets scared by a ladybird…
…and the flower scoops up the ladybird and capers away with it and oh God what thrilling stakes. I’m on the edge of my seat. Keeled over. Drooling.
One of the things I hate about this movie is how it’s flaws make the flaws of other Don Bluth movies more obvious. Seeing how ugly and bland the character designs are makes me realise that I’ve never really liked Bluth’s designs. They’re overly busy and don’t really animate smoothly and often just flat out ugly. A Troll in Central Park is disgustingly saccharine but that has ALWAYS been a problem with Bluth’s movies. The music sucks but…
Alright, scratch that. One thing that this movie really drove home to me was just how lucky Bluth was to have James Horner as a collaborator on An American Tail and Land Before Time. These were just achingly beautiful, graceful scores that elevated those movies to a different level. I don’t even think that An American Tail is all that great a movie but there are moments in it that are just gorgeous and Horner’s score is a big part of that (maybe even bigger than Bluth?). Here though, we don’t have James Horner. We have Robert Folk, Barry Mann, Norman Gimbel and Cynthia Weil. How do they measure up? See for yourselves.
Is there anything good that can be said about this?
Well, Dom DeLuise can hold a tune. So, there’s that.
The lyrics don’t appear to endorse the Ku Klux Klan.
Well, it didn’t kill us. That’s something, right?
Oh. Sigh. Send the usual card.
I buy them in bulk.
Okay so Gus finally gets his ass down under the bridge, smashing his toy boat in the process. Rosie introduces Gus to Stanley and I will say this…Ron Glasser may not be my favourite actor but the mixture of fear and utter loathing he manages to invest in the line “What are you?” may just rank as the single most perfectly judged and delivered line in the history of acting. Also? Jesus Christ these are ugly characters.
“Step right up folks! Step right up! See the amazing Dolphin Boy, bastard offspring of a drunken fling between Mother Nature and Poseidon himself!”
Gus tells Rosie that it’s time to am-scray and Stanley starts to blubber “What? You’re going to take her away from me?”
Yes Stanley. He is. BECAUSE SHE’S NOT YOUR FUCKING TOY.
Rosie starts to cry because Stockholm Syndrome can set in remarkably quickly and this actually attracts the attention of Gnorga who hears her through her magical crystal which she uses to listen in on the suffering of the human world. That’s right. There is literally no one else on earth in pain or suffering. The worst thing going on in the entire world in 1994 is this one little rugrat throwing a shitfit. There are no murders, no wars, no ethnic clenseings…nothing.
Man, the Clinton years WERE awesome!
To stop Rosie crying, some of the flowers try to amuse her by making faces.
Kill it with fire kill it with fire kill it with fire.
This doesn’t make her stop crying (THE DEVIL YOU SAY) so they move to plan B, a lame dance routine that stretches on and on until the breaking of the seventh seal. And Stanley just watches, clapping along like a mentally deficient sea-lion.
This is the movie boiled down to its essence, folks.
The really galling thing is, if human actors performed this dance routine they would be booed right off the stage. And these are animated characters! I mean, there’s no limit to what they can do! They should be running up the walls like Donald O’Connor in Singin’ in the Rain!
Anyway, Rosie is entertained by these witless frolics and starts laughing which enrages Gnorga. But she sees some potential in Gus when Stanley fixes his boat with blossoms and Gus just yells at him. Gnorga thinks that Gus is more troll-like than Stanley because he’s rude (true) and smart-mouthed (you need to be smart for that and there’s probably bacteria on Gus’ tongue who can come up with wittier put-downs). Gnorga cackles “I adore him!”
Doesn’t that mean you hate him…never mind. Fuck it. Fuck you, Gnorga. Fuck your world. Fuck the very air that gives you life.
Gnorga casts a spell on Gus that causes him to cry so much that the whole cavern under the bridge starts to flood. Stanley however uses his green thumb to turn Gus’ toy boat into a full size yacht and they go sailing on a vast ocean. When Gus asks where they are Stanley says that they’re in “his dream”.
So…Stanley can manipulate matter, create sentient living flowers and can actually conjure whole worlds from his imagination that other people can enter and walk around in.
“Are you a God?”
Stanley explains that because Gus tried to save Rosie from drowning, the power of his good dead overcame Gnorga’s curse. He says that there’s no limit to the power of a dream (saving a loved one is a dream now) and that his dream is to create a place where all the good trolls can come and live and that “they’ll do good deeds and have green thumbs just like me!”
“And if any trolls who aren’t like me try to live there? I’ll kill them! My troll kingdom must be kept pure!”
Gus complains “You sure do like to dream a lot.” (know who else liked to dream a lot? Hitler.) and Stanley says that anything important begins with a dream. Gus says that dreams are silly and Stanley almost throws him overboard for blasphemy against the gospel of Stanley. He then makes the boat fly and takes them on a tour of his dream while singing a song and I swear to god this was the inspiration for the Imagination Land Song from South Park. I’m not going to show you the song because I’ve only got so many condolonce cards but suffice it to say it’s even worse than Absolutely Green if such a thing is even possible. Also, Dom DeLuise is probably ad-libbing in this scene because I can’t imagine even this script would have lines like “Oh wow! Isn’t this (long awkward pause) good? Air is nice.” Stanley takes them through his dream of a happy Disneyland esque kingdom of good trolls (and you can tell they’re good trolls because unlike the other trolls we’ve seen they look like fat white people). So…question.
Why doesn’t Stanley just stay here? Why does he need to make his little racial enclave in the real world when he just has the power to conjure it into existence through the power of hugs and cuddles? Why don’t you just go into the dream and stay there, Stanley? Why don’t you just go? Why don’t you leave our reality in peace and JUST GO?
Alright, so Gus asks Stanley how he does this and Stanley says it’s easy, you just have to have a dream. Gus says that he has no dreams of his own and Stanley says that no, of course he does, everyone has dreams and if they don’t then they’re not even real people and must be exterminated. He gives Stanley the wheel of the boat and tells Stanley to follow his dream. Stanley conjures up a massive pirate galleon that starts firing at their boat and then explodes in massive fireball and the animation suddenly jumps up several notches as if the animators woke up and realised they had something remotely cool and interesting to draw. Stanley, of course, is shocked that someone is actually creating something interesting in his movie and shames Gus actually, literally telling him and I swear to God I am not making this up: “I hope you get some better thoughts in your head than that!”
“Your dreams are bad and you should feel bad.”
And then, taking their cue from the audience, all three characters just fall asleep.
You know what? As unpromising as the basic premise of this movie is, it didn’t have to suck. Miyazaki could have worked wonders with the same basic plot. Stanley would be a mute, weird, yet oddly loveable creature, Gnorga would have been a truly terrifying eldritch horror and together they’d represent the duality of nature, the beauty and innocence of the forest versus the terror of nature red in tooth and claw. It didn’t have to be this bad, it really didn’t.
Alright, Gnorga finally decides that enough is enough and it’s time to just go to New York and just kill Stanley.
YES! OKAY! LAST QUARTER RALLY! Let’s see a troll army descending on Central Park, armies of flowermen battling Gnorga’s hordes, a third front opens when the NYPD and the National Guard try to restore order to the park and then they ally with the trolls until finally Stanley lies dead and mangled…
No. No, of course not. Gnorga and Llort just go to Central Park themselves. Alone. Well, it is nice to see royals who actually have more than a ceremonial function. But on the other hand…
Oh Lord! That’s not some comedy villain sidekick, folks! That’s our villain. She’s our big bad. How can she be our villain? How did no one look at this and think “hey, maybe our antagonist should have more menace than an animated plaque bacteria in a toothpaste ad?”
“Well you see, SOMEBODY told me my villains were too scary.”
“I don’t deserve to live.”
Gus and Rosie wake up and decide to sneak off home (and after spending that long in the otherworld they’ll be lucky if a thousand years haven’t passed and everyone they know isn’t long dead). Gus is somewhat perturbed to see that Central Park has now been transformed into a cursed hellscape by the sheer evil of Gnorga’s presence.
No. Really. She’s like Sauron in an E cup.
Gnorga sees the two kids and decides to chase after them because…nothin’ good on TV? Gnorga and Llort pursue the kids on (I shit you not) TRICYCLES.
Well known to be the most evil of all cycles.
Gus manages to escape (despite the fact that they’re riding TRICYCLES, STEEDS OF THE DAMNED) but the trolls manage to snatch Rosie. Gus runs back to get Stanley’s help but he’s too scared to do anything (even though Gnorga is holding an infant hostage) and Gus yells “What about all your powers Mr “You Gotta Believe in Yourself”?” Yeah! Give the kid a cigar! We haven’t Gnorga do ANYTHING that even approaches Stanley’s level of power. She can create storms, turn people to stone and travel between realities. Okay, not nothing. But Stanley can MAKE LIFE AND RESHAPE REALITY TO HIS SIMPERING WHIM. THERE IS NO CONTEST HERE. NONE.
So yeah, Gus has to go off alone and try to save his little baby sister because Stanley is only tough when he’s behind a computer and nobody knows his name like any other troll. Gus races to the famous Central Park Sinister Fortress (you’ve never been?) where Gnorga and Llort are holding Rosie hostage. Gus manages to bust Rosie out of there but then Gnorga catches them and turns Gus into a troll. And not one of the good white people trolls either, one with a pig nose. This actually turns out to be a bad move as Gus now has troll powers and he uses this power to turn Llort’s feet into stone. This of course results in his feet tearing off his body and Llort dying from shock and massive blood loss but Bluth chooses to keep this off screen. But then Gnorga throws Rosie off a ledge and she falls to her doom.
“WAWZY BASTA KOOKABUWAS!”
Yeah. Sure Don. In the movie where THIS happens:
You’re going to kill off a toddler. Sure. I believe you. There’s NO WAY this is just a fake out and that she’s actually fine…
Oh ho ho ho! You got me! This plot! Such twists and turns she has!
So, they fly away on the magic flying boat that Stanley just whipped together (oh but he’s no match for Gnorga) but Gnorga is able to take control of the trollified Gus and uses him to turn Stanley to stone, thus ending the career of one of history’s greatest monsters. Oh and then, get this, the flying boat crashes but Gus and Rosie go flying through their bedroom window and ACTUALLY LAND IN THEIR OWN BEDS.
Then a whirlwind comes and sucks up Gnorga and Llort, bringing them back to the Kingdom of the Trolls. Why? Because it was either that or have dealt with in a satisfying climactic resolution and I’m sure we all agree we wan’t no part in that kind of thing.
The next day Gus, (who’s conveninetly de-trollified) and Rosie get their parents to take them to Central Park and bring Stanley to try and revive him. But they can’t. So they leave him on a rock walk away sadly. But then they turn back and, gasp!
He is risen! As was foretold!
Yeah, Stanley’s fine now. He just is. Oh, and he’s singing Absolutely Green. Well, gotta give the audience what it wants. And, oh look, he’s repairing all the damage Gnorga did to Central Park. That’s nice. And now…there’s flowers growing everwhere. And not just in Central Park. My God, his vines are spreading throughout New York! There’s no stopping it! THIS IS THE END! STANLEY’S REIGN HAS BEGUN!
And so the curtain comes down upon the age of man.
Upon release, A Troll in Central Park flopped so badly that it could be seen from space. It was the kind of legendary, once-in-a-lifetime flop that studio executives tell stories about around the campfire at their quarterly executive jamborees. Of a budget of over twenty million dollars it made back .3%. No, that’s not a little speck of grit on your screen in front of the three, POINT. THREE. PER CENT.
An animated film wouldn’t flop that badly until Delgo in 2008. How did that even happen? This is Don Bluth, the man who a few years prior made the highest grossing non-Disney animated movie ever released until that point. I mean, terrible movies break even and often turn a profit all the time, shouldn’t the strength of Bluth’s name have suckered in enough rubes to make back the costs? No. Because as Gary Goldman, Bluth’s co-director, noted, Warner Bros flat out refused to promote the movie because they had no faith in it. And can we all take a moment to thank Warner Bros for that? Seriously. With an aggressive enough marketing push they could probably have seen some return on this (kid’s movies are always in high demand and parents are notoriously uncaring as to whether they’re actually good or not). But they refused. They looked at this and said “Not in our name”. Good on them.
“Hey, it’s only money. We gotta think of our souls.”
And so ends the darkest chapter in the strange history of Don Bluth. May God forgive me my sins.
“Okay. Okay. I reviewed it. It’s done.”
“Good. Now do it again.”
“AND AGAIN! AND AGAIN! AND AGAIN! FOR ALL ETERNITY!”
“AW HELL NAH! TIME TO POP A CAP IN YO ASS!”
“AH! MY ASS! A CAP!”
“SUCK ON MY HEAT VISION BLUTH!”
“It burns! Curse you Disney! I should have known you come to protect your little lackey!”
“GANGSTA ASIA! YOU’RE ALIVE!”
“Yes. That note I gave him had a ward to protect him against Bluth’s power.”
“Wait, that “Forgive me” note? Why did you send that? What do you have to be forgiven for apart from Three Caballeros?”
“Of course…the mouse was just a pawn. It was you, wasn’t it Disney!?”
“Walt? What is he talking about?”
“STAY OUT OF THIS NALA THIS DOESN’T CONCERN YOU!”
“You placed a curse on the mouse to make him terrified of everything. And then you planted him in my company and used him to place a curse on me! THAT’S WHY MY MOVIES SUCK NOW!”
“Mouse, please, you don’t understand. He had to be stopped, he’s pure evil. He…he killed Mickey Mouse!”
“You…you’ve been using me my whole life. The Horned King. Bluth. You used me as a weapon and I never even realised it.”
“Mouse, I had no choice.”
“WRONG! YOU BRAINWASHED ME! I HAD NO CHOICE, NOT YOU!”
“Looks like you were just another innocent victim Mouse. I’m sorry.”
“No. I’m sorry Don. And I’ll make it up to you. I’ll review a movie that shows just how good you could be. And Walt?”
“Little piece of advice. Get off my blog and start running.”
“Are you threatening me, Mouse?”
“You trained me to review Disney movies. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to find the worst Disney movie ever made. And I’m going to review it. And then you’re going straight to Bahia.”
“You’re playing a dangerous game, Mouse.”
“Yeah. And I aim to win.”
TO BE CONTINUED
Hands down the worst animation in Bluth’s filmography. Ugly character designs and awkward movement throughout.
I can’t even talk about this, it’s still too soon.
Good this is depressing. Only one thing can cheer me up.
Supporting Characters 01/20
Honestly I should mark this “N/A”. The flowers aren’t characters. I can’t even remember a single one of their names. And it’s not like they don’t get enough screen time (NO IT IS NOT THAT) there is just nothing to them! NOTHING!
There are film scores that add hugely to the power of a film, there are movies where the score adds nothing and then there are movies where the score is so bad it just pulls the entire production down to the deepest, darkest depths. The songs, the background music, the silences before the music even starts…it’s all just awful.
FINAL SCORE: 8%
NEXT REVIEW: 14 May 2015. Wha wha whaaaa? May? FRUCKIN’ MAY? WHAT GIVES MOUSE?!
Yeah, about that. So I have another post going up right after this one to explain some stuff that’s being going on and why I need to take a break. Go read that.
Well at least let us know what movie you’ll be reviewing next.
Fine. Here’s a hint: Dragons and training.
Got it. Dragon Training Day where Ethan Hawke plays a rookie cop who gets taken under the wing of an older corrupt cop who’s also a dragon and the wing is an actual wing.
Awesome as that sounds, no.
Neil Sharpson aka The Unshaved Mouse is a playwright, blogger and comic book writer living in Dublin. The blog updates with a new animated movie review every second Thursday.
*This is all true.
**This is not true. She’s actually my first cousin once removed. She did really work for Bluth though.
*** Bit of a fib here. I was brought in to the studio with a load of other kids for Rock-a-Doodle animation reference and I did talk to Don Bluth. But I didn’t tell him that his movies were too scary. I just told him that the move he’d asked me to do wasn’t a cart-wheel, it was a tumble. I mean, I wasn’t trying to be a brat or anything but they’re two different things. Right? I mean, c’mon! A tumble’s a tumble and a cartwheel’s a cartwheel! How do you become one of the greatest animators of all time and not know that?! Anyway, getting off topic, it was actually my cousin who I told that the movies were too scary. But I swear to God she must have passed it on because things started getting really diabetesy right after that.