Twice Upon a Time - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Twice Upon a Time Reviews

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July 18, 2016
In the city of Din, there exists "The Rushers of Din" (perhaps a satirical reference to the modern society's working class) whose lives are controlled by the Cosmic Clock. The clock controls every hour of the day and night as the inhabitants of Din live, work, play, and sleep. During the dead of night a magical hermit named Greensleeves sends out his dream creatures known as the "Figmen of Imagination" to instill good dreams into the slumbering residents of Din. He is rivaled by his arch nemesis Synonamess Botch, the ruler of the land of Murkworks and the bringer of nightmares.

Botch hatches a diabolical plan to use his ravens to deploy nightmare bombs all over Din in the hope of plunging the world into nightmares. Two most unlikely heroes are chosen to set things right: Ralph- an all-purpose animal who can shapeshift into anything at any given situation and Mumford- a mute Charlie Chaplin look-a-like who can only talk in sound effects. Botch tricks them into tampering with the Cosmic Clock only to end up loosening and losing the spring that drives it to Botch. Thus, stopping time and putting Din into an eternal slumber. Along the way they come across a no-nonsense fairy godmother, an amateur superhero Rod Rescueman, an aspiring actress Flora Fauna, Botch's screamwriter Scuzzbopper, and a video-faced gorilla named Ibor, who talks through pop cultural referencing images that appear on his screen.

Twice Upon a Time is a rather unique, yet nearly forgotten gem of a movie. Having been made by the Ladd Company and one of the early films that was produced by Lucasfilm and George Lucas himself, Twice Upon a Time only saw a limited theatrical release due to The Ladd Company nearing bankruptcy and licensing issues. This also resulted in the movie being a box office flop. Despite this, the movie did help to introduce a unique animation style of animation that John Korty referred to as "Lumage"- a technique that uses characters that are crafted out of construction paper on a light table with a blend of live-action rendered environments/segments. Korty utilized such a technique earlier in some of the Sesame Street shorts and ironically one of the voice actors of those shorts just so happened to be the brother of the now famous director David Fincher. Much of these animated shorts were made in Korty's barn and such directors like George Lucas, Francis-Ford Coppola, and Henry Selick (one of the animators for the surreal action sequence where Ralph and Mumford are attacked by office supplies) started off their careers there.

While "Twice Upon a Time" does use repeated animation sometimes the manner in which its style is used to complement its story is very unique. While not the first movie to utilize the cutout style of animation, the creativity that is used to blend in live-action footage and backgrounds helps to provide the viewer a dream-based, fantasy, tour-de-force is really well done. There are places in which the story can drag a little, such as Floura Fiona's character gag about being an aspiring actress and Rod Rescueman's bumbling antics of trying to woo her.

Comedians and famous radio actors improvise much of the dialogue. As far as I know, there exist multiple edits of this film, but there are two more prominent ones in particular: a more family- oriented version and one with more adult language. The former was Korty's more intended version. The latter was once aired on HBO, but Korty threatened legal action of they ever showed that version of the film again. In the more adult version, Marshal Efron caters toward the raunchier aspects of his character, Botch who curses more frequently and is more inhumane to his vulture minions.

There where a lot more politics involved during the making. As mentioned before, Korty preferred a more family-oriented approach, but the writer/producer Bill Coutrie catered more towards making it a more mature film in response to the walkouts that occurred during its early screenings. Despite the cast consisting of improvisational comedians, the actors shine through as their characters. Two of which: Lorenzo Music and Julie Payne are famous for voicing Garfield and Dr. Liz Wilson in the classic cartoon "Garfield and Friends". There are some times where the dialogue can be too briskly delivered, but nothing comes off as too awkward, though the worst the film can get is questionable in terms of decision making.

The first time I've ever seen "Twice Upon a Time" was back in 1998 when it aired on Cartoon Network's Cartoon Theatre. I remember being much in awe with this movie and eagerly anticipated it to air again, but it never did. It got a limited VHS release and was destined to become an underground cult film that would almost fade into the ether. Fortunately, TCM has aired it earlier last year and the Warner Bros. Archive finally gave it a DVD release that contains both the family-oriented and more adult version. Both tell the same story, only with the latter having some more edgy character quirks.

Among other reasons, movies like "Twice Upon a Time" have been the main reason why I've gotten into reviewing. It's always been such a passionate satisfaction of mine to promote such hidden, more obscure gems such as this. "Twice Upon a Time" is not perfect and does have its flaws; I do however feel as if it deserves a place of relevancy along with the great animated movies of Don Bluth and Ralph Bakshi. The unique animation, fantastic soundtrack, likable characters, and creative story make "Twice Upon a Time" a movie that any animation enthusiast should check out. I gave kudos to Warner Bros. for finally giving this movie a needed DVD release, but I must add that it really demands a soundtrack.
January 4, 2016
A treasure and timeless. Ok, that is a touch misleading because it summons up imagery of whimsical innocent childhood images. No. That is not the case. This is more an adult satire of a cloy children's adventure both loving, artistic, and very funny. There is truly brilliance in this and anything awkward about it (especially the 80s pop music sound track) is abundantly charming.

Enjoy it with your friends or smarter kids, but be careful about what version you are getting. One version has plenty of swearing (more intense than early South Park, but no where near the George Carlin level).
October 7, 2015
Always have loved this movie ever since I saw it endless times when HBO was up & coming. I have a laserdisc of the movie (I know, dinosaur technology), and I also have a videotape, and they are both different. The Web will tell you the history of the different cuts of this movie, but it will be a great day when and if we ever get a complete, restored version with ALL the adult language and scariness included. As it is, it's a terrific picture.
½ September 6, 2015
The film could have stood to be a little more artsy with regard to it's execution considering it's unique artstyle and abstract story, otherwise it's a perfectly delightful midnight movie that perhaps even kids could enjoy
August 27, 2015
Not just "Want To See".. I WANT this movie.
February 19, 2015
Very creative, but not especially well written. It gives insights into George Lucas' imagination. On a visual scale it was on the borderline of grand.
½ July 25, 2014
Strange little film that just showed up in my house one day, and I have no idea where it came from. We were 12 people living at home at the time, so it really could have come from anywhere. I was almost the only one in the bunch who enjoyed it, though. It's admittedly very strange, but so awesome at the same time. The drawings are "badly done" (I'm sure the animators of the film would call the style "creative" or "modern" or "avant garde" or some such nonsense, hehe), and there are a few instances of the action taking place in our world, when our heroes need something from our world to stop the bad guy from making the entire world one giant nightmare. If you haven't seen it, and like things that are slightly strange, then I definitely reccomend this film. Plus, the lead character is voiced by Garfield (Lorenzo Music). Can't get much cooler than that! A wonderful 9/10.
½ July 25, 2014
Strange little film that just showed up in my house one day, and I have no idea where it came from. We were 12 people living at home at the time, so it really could have come from anywhere. I was almost the only one in the bunch who enjoyed it, though. It's admittedly very strange, but so awesome at the same time. The drawings are "badly done" (I'm sure the animators of the film would call the style "creative" or "modern" or "avant garde" or some such nonsense, hehe), and there are a few instances of the action taking place in our world, when our heroes need something from our world to stop the bad guy from making the entire world one giant nightmare. If you haven't seen it, and like things that are slightly strange, then I definitely reccomend this film. Plus, the lead character is voiced by Garfield (Lorenzo Music). Can't get much cooler than that! A wonderful 9/10.
February 22, 2014
A great child's film for people of all ages. Just fantastic! The script is wonderful and full of wit and humor. The voices are just perfect. Very far from Star Wars.
½ January 12, 2014
Right from the opening credits you know this is going to be a visual treat and trippy as hell. The aesthetics draw you in but the quick, witty dialogue and memorable characters keep you in for the ride. If The Nightmare Before Christmas was Tim Burton's stop motion masterpiece, this is George Lucas'.
January 8, 2013
I wish this would come out on DVD or BluRay - I absolutely LOVE this movie.
½ July 19, 2012
I've been trying to find this for years since watching it on Cartoon Network as a kid almost fifteen years ago. It's a pretty bizarre little movie that's unfortunately been swept under the rug. The animation has something of a Schoolhouse Rock feel that you don't see anymore. The story isn't fantastic, but the memorable characters (particularly the villain and the Fairy Godmother) and uncouth humor keep it going. It's not for everybody, but I'm glad I found it again.
July 27, 2011
TWICE UPON A TIME (1983)
February 16, 2011
Silly, light, funny, inventive, imaginative. In a word: amazing.
½ November 25, 2010
Gosh I remember seeing this thing as a kid and for years I could not remember the name of it, regardless it's great to be taken back to my childhood and remember these characters. It may not have been my favorite movie, but I remember enjoying at least looking at it. It was great to watch it from an adult perspective and it's still entertaining, it's heavily creative with its characters and world just a joy to watch. Unfortunately children will be a bit lost on the story (honestly I didn't even remember it) and it's obviously a more visual. Definitely overrated I just hope one day this creative take on a fairy tale will be more well known in the future.
½ July 19, 2010
Underrated and under-exposed. Two versions exist, one with cussing and one without. The latter was briefly available on VHS. Either version (I've seen both) is worth watching for unique visuals, fun characters, and very quotable dialogue.
February 8, 2010
Ahead of its time.INGENIOUS
½ January 6, 2010
Highly underrated cult classic. Likeable characters, catchy dialogue, Flawless voice acting, unique animation, and a standard plot made complex by such a dark,surreal, and not to mention;atypical account of fairy tale/fantasy satire
August 8, 2009
This is a fun, quirky animation flick. Too bad this is not available on DVD. Not the best flick for children, a little too sophisticated.
March 25, 2009
I watched this a lot as a kid so I have a fondness for it. It's actually pretty smart for a kid's movie.
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