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.

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