Phantom Tollbooth (1970)

What to say? Chuck Jones has created a real bona fide classic which ought to be shared by ALL age groups as well as cartoon fanatics like myself. (That is, whether or not you have kids in both the former and latter.) Having first seen this at the age of 13, I must admit, I couldn’t help feeling perplexed when I saw the first few minutes of the movie: bored, pessimistic little Milo making his way home from school, then finds a magical tollbooth popping up in his bedroom. Once he enters it, he finds out he’s become a cartoon character, then wondering into an alternate cartoon universe with a crazy patrol officer constantly repeating the word “guilty” and little lethargic amoeba-like creatures called “doldrums”. Since I was watching this on TV, so much of it freaked me out so bad I flipped to another channel. Now let’s fast forward to the age of 26… …and now I’m actually ENJOYING IT! Having been a lifelong Looney Toons fan myself, this movie IS a refreshing break from the usual fare of Bugs, Daffy, and Marvin the Martian. The unique style of animation as well as the psychedelic colors/Picasso-like backgrounds were BOTH timeless and way ahead of its time (especially since it was made in 1968). Besides, now that I’ve seen it in its entirety, it is pretty fun and enjoyable to watch as Milo embarks on a journey with Tock the Watchdog and the Humbug to rescue the princesses of rhyme and reason. Their disappearance has created nothing but confusion and despair over a magical land full of words, letters, and numbers coming to life. The bottom line on the Phantom Tollbooth: if you want to see non-Looney Toons works of Chuck Jones and still enjoy classic children’s TV/movies, like Captain Kangaroo, Electric Company, Schoolhouse Rock, and Charlotte’s Web, then THIS IS IT! 🙂

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