Review: Babes in Toyland (1986)

Ohhhh boy, this movie. Well, first of all, let's talk about Babes in Toyland. No, not this movie, but the 1961 Walt Disney film. It was a classic musical that really stuck with me as a kid, introducing the concept of living toys and had a compelling story that, while tied to Christmas, didn't feel like the other Christmas films and specials. It felt unique and filled me with a sense of wonder, which is what Disney often does best. Well, that and pissing off Tumblr.

I feel like I haven't truly made it until I piss off Tumblr.

But what Disney does best often leads to what other companies do best: taking classic beloved things and fucking them up. And my childhood happened to also be the time when Orion decided to make their own version of the movie that is one of my earliest movie memories. Yes, when I was 3 years old NBC broadcast a television film and not only did it star Keanu Reeves and Drew Barrymore, it also had Richard Mulligan jammed in there so we could all forget he's actually got talent. It seems like the perfect storm of Christmas crap and, since that's what I'm covering right now, let's check out the cinematic abomination that is 1986's Babes in Toyland.

"Are you absolutely sure you want to do this? It's not too late to watch Soap re-runs."
Our story focuses on a young girl named Lisa who is basically playing mom, even though she's 11 years old and has an older sister. But, of course, she's written with that classic stereotype of being a kid who wants to be treated as an adult. As such, she has no time for silly kid things like toys or cartoons. Her sister leaves for work at a local toy store, but Lisa sees on the news that a massive blizzard is heading for Cincinnati and heads out to get her sister to come home. At said work, we see Keanu Reeves playing the his character from the Bill & Ted films and basically being exactly what people joke about him being: a bad actor who appears to be stoned.

We also see their boss, played by Richard Mulligan, who is a huge prick and it basically unfolds fairly obviously with them leaving and him having something dumped on his head...that doesn't actually hit him at all. Hilarious. Keanu drives them home while they all sing, because singing while driving on icy roads during a blizzard is a great idea, and somehow the younger sister falls out of the car and whacks her head on a tree. Then we see that we're also ripping off The Wizard of Oz here, as Lisa appears to have been transported to a magical land...full of furries. Yeah, there's just a bunch of people in really terrible animal costumes there that looks like they're from a forgotten amusement park.

At least they're not animatronics walking around on their own.
Moving on from that creepy bit of nightmare fuel, she meets Georgie Porgie and learns a bit about the place. He tells her there's a wedding happening between a horrible old man, who toes isn't obviously the villain or anything, and a girl named Mary. Lisa interrupts the wedding, pointing out that Mary can't marry someone she doesn't love (if only she knew) and we notice that, much like The Wizard of Oz, the Toyland people are basically folks that Lisa knows in her world. How convenient. Mary is her sister, Jack is Keanu, Georgie is Keanu's buddy, and the villain is the dickish boss. Unlike the classic story about Dorothy going to Oz though, this one is obviously just a hallucination/dream rather than merely being implied to be one. And as such, leaves me not caring about any of the Toyland characters, as they aren't actually real even in the context of the film. Granted, it's not like I cared about the real world ones either, but it's even harder to get invested when they're obviously not real.

"I guess I may as well go eat myself into a coma, since my life has no actual meaning."
It also turns out that Jack is the villain's nephew, so this means that a creepy older man was trying to steal his nephew's girlfriend. Lovely. As an uncle, I hate when these sorts of things happen, because it makes me increasingly uncomfortable when I am reminded of the time a girl who went to the same high school as my nephews hit on me. But yeah, it also turns out that all of this was really so the bad guy can take over Toyland, because he's bad and stuff. Woot. So our heroes go to meet the Toymaster, played by the late Pat Morita in a role that I think is actually less dignified than Karate Dog but still better than a certain other forbidden film that we're all better off ignoring the existence of.

"Daniel-san, I feel a disturbance. As if there were a movie about us that completely ignored the previous film's plot."
He basically tells Lisa that he can't help them unless she believes in toys...wait...what? Believes in toys? Are toys fairies now? If you don't believe in them will they just burst into flames? And who wouldn't believe in toys? They exist. It's not they're some legendary mythological creature that only the pure of heart can see. Any asshole can go to the store and buy a toy. But that whole thing is pointless anyway, because they get interrupted by the villain showing to steal a flask of evil juju that the Toymaster just has for some reason. I'm starting to have difficulties trusting the Toymaster here. The badguy then sics a giant one-eyed vulture thing on them but they escape only to end up getting captured anyway, making yet another pointless scene.

This movie is chock full of them.
 Creepy old uncle man here reveals his master plan, as they discover he's created an army of trolls (those are trolls?) to make Toyland his. Then he'll get to play with all of the toys, regardless of price! The U.S.S. Flagg is in his grasp! Muhahahahahahaha! He then uses the evil juju turn them evil, but it doesn't work on Lisa because she's not from Toyland. Whatever, let's just go with it. They get loose again, returning  to the Toymaster to interrupt Daniel-san's training. How will the Toymaster's car ever get waxed if they keep this shit up? Anyway, Lisa finally believes in the heart of the cards toys and this causes them to grow giant-size as toy soldiers go off to fuck the troll army up. They banish the villain into the woods and we learn that Mr. Myagi has been Santa Claus all along, which raises more questions than I intend on ever asking. Seriously, Pat Morita is Santa Claus? No, you know what? No. I'm not going to think about it because this is almost over.

"Just close your eyes and soon it will all be over..."
He flies Lisa through space, which makes this the second space-faring Santa Claus I've covered during Shitmas, and she wakes up at as if it had a been a dream. Because it clearly was. She whacked her fucking head on a tree while the older people around her sang a stupid song. A little girl almost died in a blizzard from a concussion and had a vivid hallucinatory dream as a result. There is literally no evidence that any of the Toyland shit actually happened, so yeah. This whole story was just a really goofy dream with people in animal costumes that were almost as unsettling as Robbie the Rabbit.

Yeah, we're just gonna "nope" right the fuck away from you.
This movie was bad. It was cheap looking, badly acted, rather confusing in parts, and ultimately felt pointless in the end. The songs weren't really good, instead hovering in this limbo of annoyance that made me wish Lisa actually died in the end so at least would feel like someone paid for these crimes against my ears. Probably one of the things that truly irks me about this colossal waste of time though is that it was such a waste of people who either went on to prove themselves capable actors or were already known for being entertaining in other places. As a kid I really enjoyed watching Empty Nest and Soap, the shows Richard Mulligan was known for starring in, and I'm honestly a fan of Keanu Reeves because his good movies were really good, thus making it all the more sad to see them boil on the ass of his early career.

No, I don't consider this to be one of his good ones either.
Overall, I have to say that while this movie was a mess, it's not a memorable one. This isn't going to defame the classic Walt Disney feature in any way and I rarely hear anyone even mention it. It was a stupid movie trying to cash in on a much better film's success and, like most films of that nature, ended up just being something that idiots like me watch when we want to talk about crappy Christmas films. Much like the forbidden film that Pat Morita also ended up in, this movie may as well not even exist. So, until Lisa grows up to go on a killing rampage in Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 6: The Toyland Massacre, I'll be here hoping my stomach stops reacting in such a volatile manner to the cookies Georgie Porgie gave me. Later days, bleeders.

"We ceased to exist when Lisa woke up, which means we're all dead now. Bye!"