Once Upon a Mattress - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Once Upon a Mattress Reviews

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October 11, 2014
I think it would've been better if Zooey Deschanel was the main character.
February 21, 2013
I'm actually starting in this play in a couple month as Sir Harry. Pros: Two of the movies songs are alot of fun, I like a good majority of the characters, and it's got some good adult humor. Cons: The story drags out, it's really slow, some things aren't really explained, and some of the songs are completely forgettable. Overall, It's a cute and funny family movie.
November 21, 2012
Dynastically Problematic

I saw this onstage once, years ago at the Tacoma Little Theatre. My sister used to work there when I was first living in Washington, and though I don't know remember why, I was there one day when they were performing this show. It's about the only thing I know for sure that I saw there, and the other--[i]A Little Night Music[/i]--had nothing to do with Elaine; I took myself for my birthday, because it was playing around my birthday and I had no better plans. I think I was usher for [i]Once Upon a Mattress[/i], though. I do remember that their princess was doing her very best Carol Burnett, because that's who originated the role on Broadway in 1959. I suspect that this is one of those shows that gets done by community theatres a lot; it's probably available relatively cheap, and it's relatively simple to stage. There are also plenty of minor roles so you can fill the audience with people's families.

Prince Dauntless (Denis O'Hare) wants to get married. However, his mother, Aggravain (Burnett herself), will not let him marry anyone who cannot pass a test to prove that she's a princess. Lady Larken (Zooey Deschanel) is in despair, because no one else is allowed to marry until Prince Dauntless does--and Lady Larken is pregnant by Sir Harry (Matthew Morrison). So Sir Harry goes off on a quest and brings back Princess Winnifred (Tracey Ullman) of a kingdom to the north. Queen Aggravain hasn't been best pleased with any of the offerings so far, but this? She swims the moat! Dauntless falls in love, but Aggravain conspires with her wizard (Edward Hibbert) to devise a test that Winnifred will be certain to fail. She will test the thing that she is most certain Winnifred doesn't possess--her sensitivity. She will try the old "pea under twenty mattresses" test. But surely that's just a story, and surely this princess, too, is doomed to fail the test!

There is no delicate way to put this. Tracey Ullman was too old for the role. Yes, she was born the year the show opened on Broadway, but let's face it--that means she was forty-six when this version was filmed. She's three years older than Denis O'Hare, who looks his age. She's still sprightly and energetic, and she doesn't look as though she's about to fall over during the various dance numbers, no matter how up-tempo they are, but she is still obviously old enough so that the succession would be far from certain. They don't do a lot of close-ups, but every time they do, you can see the lines. She still looks great, and I'm not trying to say she doesn't. I'm certainly not trying to say she should have been Aggravain instead, though from a historical perspective, it would have been more accurate. I'm saying I wouldn't have cast her in the thing at all. Carol Burnett is pulling off middle aged, but Tracey Ullman doesn't pull off young. It's almost as though they decided to balance the royals' ages without worrying about whether they should.

I never feel entirely comfortable with why Aggravain doesn't want Dauntless to get married, either. Winnifred gets a line toward the end about how they'll go find their own kingdom and not live with the in-laws, but of course that's ridiculous. Dauntless is an only child, and he'll stay home and await his chance to take the throne of his father, King Sextimus (Tom Smothers). And sure, maybe Winnifred will take more of his time than Aggravain would like, but the kind of woman who is that doting on a son is often thrilled at the prospect of grandchildren. Her motivation never seems to work. Either it should be expected that Sextimus will retire and give Dauntless the throne or else she should be afraid that being a grandmother will make her seem old. Just wanting all of Dauntless's attention is kind of creepy, and anyway Burnett's version of the character only gives the impression that it's what's going on in one brief musical number.

I mean, it's charming enough if you manage not to think about all of this. The music is decent, if not great. Satirical takes on fairy tales can be a lot of fun. The bit about the mute king is fun, if unnecessary, and Michael Boatman does a fine job as the jester. However, I almost think this is the kind of show that most needs a live audience. Humans react better to things in groups. You're less inclined to laugh at something if you're alone than if you're with other people. And, yes, from the back of an auditorium, who's going to notice a few lines? I'm not going to tell you not to watch it, especially if you're a Carol Burnett fan--or even a Tracey Ullman fan. Heck, Tom Smothers even fools about with a yo-yo at one point, if that's the sort of thing that interests you. Nothing spectacular, but there it is. Still, I found the whole thing a bit of a disappointment. I'd much rather the library had the version Carol Burnett herself did on TV in 1964 before a live studio audience. Sometimes, the catalog just has regrets.
November 15, 2012
A few of the songs in this film are quite fun, such as the "Spanish Panic" dance, or pretty much whatever Carol Burnett sang. But unfortunately... the REST of the songs feel forced and boring. Much rather like "oh, I guess it's time for a song... what can we have them sing about that somewhat relates to the plot?"

The acting is decent or good (depending on the character). But with the songs slowing down the plot so much, I couldn't really get into this film.

It was alright. But certainly not high on my list of favorite musicals.
May 20, 2012
A lovely musical with strong acting, but the melodeys sound exactly the same.
½ January 5, 2012
A cute and campy musical
November 11, 2011
funny musical...too weird.
September 21, 2011
Very cute adaptation of one of my favorite musicals. Spectacular casting!
½ July 20, 2011
I wasn't sure if it was meant to be a kids movie or not. It reminded me of that live-action Cindrella with Brandy.
½ July 12, 2011
Very fun adaptation!
Super Reviewer
½ May 16, 2011
I was in this play in high school so I picked it at the library. I thoroughly enjoyed Disney's version! The songs are so fun and the actors did a fabulous job, especially Carol Burnett! The costumes were fantastic and the sets were beautiful. What an adventure!
February 5, 2011
Entertaining bizarre musical that I quite enjoyed. Admittedly, I am a little biased being a glee fan and absolutely adoring Zooey deschanel, but still.
January 9, 2011
This was incredibly cheesy and the music wasn't great- but it did definitely have its redeeming qualities. It was nice to see Matthew Morrison in this movie, and the "man to man talk" scene was one of the most wonderfully awkward scenes I've ever seen in a movie. I don't think I'd be likely to watch this again, but it was cute.
½ December 4, 2010
I checked this out because Zooey Deschanel is an incredible actress and singer, but sadly she barely sings. Matthew Morrison (Mr. Schu from Glee) was a welcome surprise, but he barely sang either. Overall, it was cheesy and disappointing.
November 28, 2010
Delightful 90 minute musical starring Carol Burnette. Great songs and wonderful family film. Matthew Morrison is well worth watching in this one.
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2010
A cute movie with fun songs and with Matthew Morrison in the mix, it also felt like watching a Glee episode. Overall a good time.
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2010
So funny. You have to remember that it's supposed to be fluff, of sorts, and then you can really enjoy it. I thought it was hilarious and would watch it again.
July 23, 2010
A cute retelling of the classic "Princess and the Pea." Having not seen the stage version and I can't compare the two. The songs in general were mostly unimpressive and I thought the leads were older than I would have expected. It is definitely not your typical fairy tale! Carol Burnett was enjoyable as the over-bearing, fickle Queen.
July 13, 2010
Musical-y but kind of sweet...in a non-condescending yet still uplifty-cutesy-romantic way.
June 28, 2010
this was terribly lame, but i only watched it for mr schuester anyways..

oh mr schuester, be still my beating heart..
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