Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Horrible Non-Horror! The Cincinnati Christmas Edition

Drew Barrymore. Eileen Brennan. Jill Schoelen. Richard Mulligan. Pat Morita. Some guy named Googy Gress. 
Could this be the greatest cast ever assembled for a Christmas movie?
Quick Plot: Young Lisa (off the wagon Barrymore) has no time for sleds and Barbie. See, she’s from Cincinnati (where, according to song, the girls are pretty, boys are feisty, and the town is natty...which sounds racist, though the town is completely white and therefore may indeed be really racist). Also in Cincy is Lisa’s flaky mom (Mrs. Peacock), minimum wage slave big sis, sis’s boyfriend Ted Theodore Logan, his chubby friend George (some guy named GOOGY!) and their smarmy boss, played in his glorious sleep by the phenomenal Richard Mulligan.

On Christmas Eve, a storm of Every Christmas Movie You’ve Ever Seen proportions strikes, causing a mini-car accident that sends Lisa into the magical world of Toyland. There she meets alternate versions of her Cincy pals, now rough derivatives of nursery rhyme characters. Evil boss (now named Barnaby) is attempting to marry Lisa’s not-sister (now Mary), much to the chagrin of her true love Jack (still pretty much Ted Theodore Logan). 

It’s vital that Jack be named Jack, primarily so that we get the line “Jack be nimble. Jack be dead!” at a key moment towards the end of the film.

Naturally, the only person who can help the young lovers is Pat Morita, aka The Toymaker (not to be confused with the homicidal craftsman of the same name in Silent Night Deadly Night 5). With magic toy soldiers, bottled up evil, and an incredibly terrible song that doesn’t even attempt to rhyme its lyrics, the little man spreads his glee throughout Toyland and inside the hardened heart of young Lisa.
Babes In Toyland is a bizarre and fairly hilarious television movie from the golden age of television movies that was the 1980s. Decorated with deflating balloons and mascots that look like their fur has been fading in a Hollywood warehouse since the ‘50s, the film feels more like an elementary school play than big budget special. I almost wonder if the actors thought they were simply rehearsing and didn’t know until later that there was film in the cameras.

That’s a wonderful thing.
You know what else is wonderful? The fact that Babes In Toyland is a musical. Kind of.
Listeners of GleeKast (that’s you, right?) know of my dislike for the modern crutch that is AutoTune, but Babes In Toyland certainly makes a case for it. Non-singing actors like Morita and Mulligan get through their brief musical interludes mostly by just shouting the lyrics. Hey, even the greats have to compensate somehow.

Lessons Learned
In Toyland, only the bride dresses up for a wedding. Guests are encouraged to wear the same clothing they’ve been in for the past week

Wooden soldiers aren’t much in demand anymore, and that’s appalling
The best way to fight evil is to be from Cincinnati. And to sing about it
Instant Watch was invented for one reason, and one reason alone: movies like these. Babes In Toyland is a cheap, awkward and not at all good holiday movie that drags in places and makes you laugh your ears off in others. In other words, it’s a tasty Christmas cookie that you owe it to yourself to enjoy. 


  1. Ahhh this was sadly my favorite movie when I was little. I got it free from McDonald's. I was also halfway through doing a Tribute post to this film when I saw it was on instant watch! But then I stopped for reasons as yet unexplained....

    Okay A. the Cinncinati song is the best thing that ever happened.

    B. How badly do you want to ride around in those little cars?

    C. I agree Googy is probably the worst name in the entire world.

    D. Zac and Mac used to scare the living bejesus out of me.

    E. Want to move into a bowling ball with me?

  2. A. This is true.

    B. I would kill giant bunny people to get the chance to drive around in those cars.

    C. Googy is an especially awful name when you're a fat man. Maybe it was based on something mean kids used to call him, and he reclaimed it in a bid for power?

    D. Were Zac & Mac the Rifraff the characters? They were...um, sure lil Andre, terrifying.

    E. Yes. Yes I do. There are few things in life I want more right now.

  3. Haha yes they were the riff raff types. It's because I hated their thin hair, and bushy eyebrows and huge humps....waaah

  4. After having a taste of Cincy about a month ago, you now surely understand their powers of combating the forces of evil, holiday-related or not! (However... great, the girls may be pretty there, but I'll still be rejected by them, irregardless! Bleh!)

    This was a movie that, like a bag of cookies, I've only ever seen in one cookie piece at a time over the years. Just knowing there is a Christmas movie that exists with Neo in it, along with my CRUSH FOR THE PAST 15-SOME YEARS DREW BARRYMORE, then future generations stand to benefit. ... And maybe between that, and your review, it will make me get off my ass to finally watch it all in one sitting.

    Fun fact: You confused me for a moment when you made note of the character Lisa's flaky mom. Made me think, "Since when was my mom in a movie?". Oh-ho, but you speak of the "Clue" variety of said Missus. Identity crisis, averted.

  5. It's gonna be okay Andre. Our bowling ball home comes with a giant bear security guard. He's a little quiet, but quite intimidating. Ain't nobody gonna make you scared!

    Mikey, I hope the Mrs. Peacock I discussed wasn't your mom, because that would mean she's the type of woman willing to sell off her child to a terrible mean man in order to keep her modest home. Then again, Richard Mulligan may be more attractive than other options in the midwest, so it might not be the worst thing in the world. He does drive a prettty sexy bumper car!

  6. Added the second I saw the words 'instant watch', even though the second I see Ted Theodore Logan, I want to watch Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

    I love young Drew Barrymore (not in a hamster sort of way, either) way more than old and Stallone looking Drew Barrymore, so that, mixed with Miyagi, is enough to sell me on just about anything.

  7. I recorded this movie (on VHS) and i used to like freeze framing on that bit at the end where she turns around in the slay and you can see right up her dress for a couple of frames, its just a shame she was wearing knickers. By the way, Jill schoelen was an incredible chick back then as well.

  8. jervaise brooke hamsterDecember 24, 2010 at 4:27 AM

    "A HAMSTER SORT OF WAY !!!", Matt, you just explained the main reason why this time that we`re living through will always be remembered by future historians as being "THE TIME OF SEXUAL REPRESSION", one of the the most loathsome and horrifying times in history to have been born into, and we`re the poor bastards who had to live through it.

  9. Matt, I too often have to stop myself from watching B&T rather than doing just about ANYTHING--brushing teeth, breathing, etc. Barrymore is actually interesting here because you can easily read the film as an analogy for her lost childhood. Just sayin'

    Willy: To each his own.

    Willy's friend, Hamster: well, I will say it is indeed a shame that in most places in today's world, Bill and Ted could not get married.

  10. jervaise brooke hamsterDecember 24, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    Emily, are you accusing me of being a pansy queer bastard again?, i`ve told you before i dont like it when you do that especially when you consider how rampagingly heterosexual i am.

  11. Nope, I'm just saying, if you're complaining about living in a repressed day and age, I'd echo that in terms of homosexuality, something that bizarrely uneducated bigots like to consider evil and wrong when really, how is it possibly hurting them?

  12. jervaise brooke hamsterDecember 25, 2010 at 6:03 AM

    Emily, i`m talking specifically about the repression of heterosexual activity not the repression of pansy queer filth. Heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation that interests me.

  13. Yeah but see, your comment doesn't interest me. Another one like that will be deleted.