The Phantom Tollbooth (11/21/12) – Nostalgiathon

The Phantom Tollbooth

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Movie Two Hundred Sixty Seven

A bored young boy takes a wild journey though The Phantom Tollbooth.

Milo (Butch Patrick) comes home from school one day and is bored. While on the phone with a friend, he hears something in the other room and upon investigation, discovers a large package that holds a tollbooth. After Milo passes through the tollbooth in a tiny car, he is turned into a cartoon and travels to a strange new world called the Kingdom of Wisdom. Milo, along with his faithful traveling companions the Humbug and Tock the watchdog, a dog with a watch in his side, travel through Dictionopolis and Digitopolis and meet a host of interesting characters including the Awful Dynne, the Dodecahedron, the Whether Man, the Lethargians, and The Mathemagician.

Many of you may be more familiar with The Phantom Tollbooth in book form. I’m not sure if I saw the film first or read the book first, but I do know that I used to love both. In fact, I think I’ve read The Phantom Tollbooth three or four times. It’s the type of book that makes learning interesting even though you don’t necessarily learn much. The wordplay is delightful, though. The movie version, directed by Chuck Jones, is not quite as good as the book even though it tries desperately. Still, it’s the perfect entry for me for Nostalgiathon! Many of my childhood favorites come from Chuck Jones and that is really saying something since I watched so many cartoons and movies as a kid. I’m sure I will have more Chuck Jones movies for Nostalgiathon soon.

I have long been a fan of Chuck Jones animation style and The Phantom Tollbooth is no exception. What ends up hurting the film is the pacing. While Milo is traveling he is constantly running into new characters and visiting new places but there isn’t much to it beyond that. The different scenes almost don’t connect to each other and while they are fairly interesting, they run together by the end. Oh, the kid that plays Milo is kind of irritating and they added songs too. Still, love that Chuck Jones animation…

While The Phantom Tollbooth is one of my favorite childhood books, the movie is not on the same level. It was barely even given a release on DVD. In fact, I had to special order it from Warner Brothers’ vault just to get it and it’s totally barebones. Because of this, it’s hard to recommend The Phantom Tollbooth but I still have a good time watching it. I would almost recommend the book over the movie, but I’m including a link to the movie if you’re curious.

I give it 3 Milo and Tocks out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


19 responses to “The Phantom Tollbooth (11/21/12) – Nostalgiathon

  1. Pingback: Nostalgiathon Blogathon – Introduction | Andy Watches Movies

  2. Pingback: Nostalgiathon – Update 1 | Andy Watches Movies

  3. I love the living hell out of The Phantom Tollbooth book. I latched onto it when I was young and have read it 4-6 times since. It’s smart take on the whole Alice in Wonderland aspect and I’m shocked it hasn’t been made into a live-action, full length flick. But, believe it or not, with so much love for the book, I have yet to watch this animated movie. Guess I always pictured my own version of it in my head. Oh, when I was first really getting into movies too, I attempted to adapt the book into a screenplay, which only reminded me that I wasn’t quite ready to make a movie lol.

    • Haha let’s try to make your screenplay into reality!

      I think if this had been drawn/directed by anyone other than Chuck Jones it would be terrible but it’s saved by his charming style (at least for me). Since you’re a fan too, you should check it out though.

  4. Pingback: My November Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

  5. Pingback: Nostalgiathon – Update 2 | Andy Watches Movies

  6. It has been years since I have read the book or seen this movie. Hopefully they have re-released this.

    “Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!”

  7. I don’t know how either missed my radar. I’m not really a fan of animation, but you definitely got me interested in reading the book……even though I am now an adult!

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