Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
I thought this might be another attempt to turn a Disneyland ride into a movie, like the popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, or the big Eddie Murphy flop (and how long has it been since you didn’t have to put that word after his name, except for Shrek? Maybe he should look for more jackass roles), The Haunted Mansion, but apparently not. It was originally released—very, very ineptly—as The Wind in the Willows, and seems to be that rare case of the Disney organization completely screwing up something. It was reviewed well, and it should have cleaned up simply on the strength of having four of the Monty Python crew, albeit Michael Palin was in the pretty small part of “The Sun.” (Terry Gilliam was to play “The River,” but had scheduling conflicts, and Graham Chapman offered his usual excuse of being dead. That’s starting to wear pretty thin, Graham.) All parts are played by humans with minimal make-up. Eric Idle as Rat has a tail and whiskers, Terry Jones as Toad has a green face. The weasels all have the same hair style, but you know them by their long brown coats. That’s all you really need if the script is good, and this one is. The special effects are clever. The story gets rather elaborate toward the end, and strays quite far from the original, but I don’t object to that. John Cleese is particularly good in the small role of Toad’s defense attorney. Terry Jones is good as Toad, and he also wrote and directed.