friday flick fix
phantom tollbooth (1970)

To this day, every time I spell out the word February, I remember The Phantom Tollbooth. The VCR player inside my head instantly replays the prologue where Milo (the protagonist) told his friend of his frustration with the word February while slouched on the couch, as well as how he spelled F-E-B-R-U-A-R-Y as he drove out of the Doldrums.

Speaking of the doldrums - I thought of reviewing this movie this week was because I'd been depressed last week and I found myself singing "Don't Say There's Nothing to Do In the Doooooldrums", a song from one of the scenes.

It was released way before I was born, but The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), seemed to me pretty current when I first watched it in the summer of 1986. It was a rented Betamax tape that quickly became an often re-watched favorite. It's based on a children's book. It starts out in live-action and switches to animation as Milo goes into "a world beyond". In the style of animated flicks in those days, it's also a musical with a moral lesson.

I was the kind of cartoon that didn't just entertain, it encouraged thought. More than educational, it was also quite philosophical. I learned a whole lot of vocabulary words from watching it and made me consider how important it was to be a thinker.

I enjoyed the play on words. And numbers. I loved the fascinating characters with pun-ny names, most of them were personifications of ideas.

Seeing a live boy turning into an animated version of himself made me wish a magic tollbooth would suddenly appear in my own room. Like Milo, I'd often complained of boredom that summer and fancied myself escaping into an adventure-filled animated world. Since I knew there wasn't any chance of me finding a magic tollbooth, I picked up a copy of Lewis Caroll's Alice In Wonderland from my grandfather's home library and read about another kid who got lost in another world beyond.

I still think Phantom Tollbooth is a gem. I still enjoyed watching it as an adult and It's something I'd like my kids to watch.
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