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(Review originally written at 13 April 2006)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I expected just another Laurel & Hardy slapstick comedy but instead got something that surpassed all my expectations.

The story is absolutely great (based on the Glen MacDonough operetta) and features many well known fairy tale characters. The entire movie is set in a cheerful and colorful (atleast when you watch the colored-in version of the movie, released in the '90's of course.) world where everyone lives their simple and happy life and spend most of the time singing cheerful sappy songs. It's truly a movie that's both over-the-top and terribly outdated but that now has become a part of its charm and makes this movie a totally great and absolutely irresistible one.

All of the fairly tale like characters are absolutely great in the movie. Most of them don't really play a significant role but their presence alone is enough reason to give the movie a joyful feeling. Speaking of insignificant roles; how about the boys? Well, to be honest Laurel & Hardy don't really play a most significant role in the movie. They are mealy sidekicks in the story and even though they get to do some funny sequences, with some typical Laurel & Hardy humor, this movie is not really a slapstick or comedy. It's more a cheerful musical with some comical characters in it. It's difficult to see if the presence of Laurel & Hardy make this movie a better one or not. It isn't really a Laurel & Hardy movie and it has a totally different feel and atmosphere. Some of the fans will be delighted with their appearance in this movie, while others will perhaps be disappointed by it.

What really drives the movie is the story and its characters. The movie has a very solid villain in it, perfectly portrayed by Henry Brandon. Brandon apparently only was in his 20's when he played the role, so also lots of credits have to go to the make-up and costume department, for making him look like a scary, old, ugly, almost Scrooge like villain.

The story also really has some solid moments in it. The ending is surprisingly big and spectacular and features monster like creatures, versus an army of wooden soldiers (in certain sequences created with some early stop-motion effects), build by our two boys. Even though the movie is mostly cheerful, it also knows how to build up its tension, with as a result some really well story-wise constructed moments that all work out extremely well.

I'm going to say something very daring now but here goes; In my opinion this movie is even better than "The Wizard of Oz". Both movies are much alike in several different ways. Both movie are set in a cheerful imaginary world, with imaginary likable characters and a ruthless villain who spoils all the happiness in that same cheerful world. Let's face it, both of those movie are extremely old fashioned and outdated but the cheerful charm makes both of the movie irresistible ones, that still speak to the imagination.

This movie is a real forgotten masterpiece and the movie deserves to be better known and seen by persons all over the world. Really a movie that I truly enjoyed watching.

10/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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