Here we go for round three of my Disney catch-up. This is one that I've seen a few times before, but I tend to stick to the latter half for several reasons. While 'The Wind in the Willows' is okay for what it is, it's 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' that seems to become most peoples' takeaway from it. On top of that, I'm a fiend for Halloween, and the last moments have left an impression on me that has lasted since I was a little kid. It's probably the primary source of my opinion that atmosphere outdoes blood and gore for a good scare.
But of course, I'm here to review the whole movie, so allow me to get the first part out of the way (which was pretty much how I felt watching this). On the whole, the film could be likened to an average family meal for a kid. You wanna get through the first bit and jump straight to your dessert - you may even be willing to sacrifice some of your meal to get there, too (in this case hitting skip until you get to the good parts). So fair warning, I didn't care much for the first segment, and my heart isn't really in it. But I'll give it a whirl.
'The Wind in the Willows': Based on the story by Kenneth Grahame, the story bases itself in London, England in the early 1900s. We are introduced to a variety of critter characters, including J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. He has a passion for adventure, with no regard to cost, which eventually brings him to the brink of bankruptcy. His habit of getting into all things popular peaks when he discovers motorcars, and Toad's friend, Angus McBadger convinces other friends, Ratty and Moley to try to help curb his habit.
This all gets really weird and advanced for something aimed at kids. It involves a lot of financial mumbo jumbo, and even a court case that involves Mr. Toad's reckless driving. When describing it to a friend, i claimed it as being a very boring tale, but complete with some pretty funny visuals and dialogue. For me, it's not bad for what it is, but it's definitely not something I feel like I need to re-watch annually at Christmas (it takes place around the holidays). There are certainly some laugh out loud moments though, and that was enough to at least keep me mildly entertained. 3/5
'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow': This segment couldn't have worked out much better for timing. These Disney Animation reviews are all being done in order, and taking place every month with five Thursdays until I'm done. It just so happened that 'The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad' lands on October 1st, and the last moments of the second segment here always, without fail, gets me into the Halloween spirit. Of course I refer to Washington Irving's 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'.
The first parts of this segment are intriguing enough as a sort of twisted love triangle story. Basically, we have Ichabod Crane; a school master who looks pretty gangly and has a certain charm to him that some of the local ladies fall for. However we learn that he's a bit of a jerk as well, going after women for their riches and good cooking more than for love. His competition is local tough guy, Brom Bones, who picks on Ichabod a little bit, but nothing too harmful. In a weird way, there's a very human balance between the two, and we see that the would-be gangly geek between the wto may actually be the jerk.
Of course, this all ends with Brom Bones having enough with his competition, and sacring the crap out of him with the tale of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. If you wanna get to what makes this whole movie great, skip to the last 13 minutes or so. It begins with a catchy song as Brom Bones tells the tale, and then it cuts to the best and most memorable part of things, involving Ichabod, riding home through the dark forest. Even as a 38-year-old adult, I can say that this is still effectively creepy and a fantastic way to dip your young children into the horror pool. It works really well as a "baby step" in that direction. The segment as a whole is interesting in its execution, and it has become an annual Halloween watch for me. 5/5
If you recall last month, I went through five of the six "package films" Disney made from a bunch of unused footage (at least for a lot of it). This is the sixth and final package film Disney made during this era, and things would go back to normal until 1977 with 'The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh'. On the whole, I definitely recommend checking out the last half of this, especially since we're approaching Halloween. It might stick with you better than some actual horror movies with the atmosphere it creates. As far as the first half, I could take it or leave it. It's good for a giggle, but not something to keep coming back to.