D50: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is the last of the anthologies that were released during the 1940s (and last until The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh). This one is like Fun and Fancy Free in that it’s purpose is to tell some well-known stories. But the main difference here is that unlike in the other, the stories being told here are ones that could actually be told as feature-length stories (and in one case, it already has been), but also work as abridged versions. Also, the filmmaking is way better, as is the music. And the result is an entertaining, if problematic feature.

The first segment is an Adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. This story is about a toad that likes to live the high life with his horse. But as a result, he is losing his fortune and could lose his mansion, which is the pride and joy of his community. So, his friends, the badger, the rat, and the mole do anything in their power to keep him in check. But one day, he decides he wants a car, and that leads him to fall in with the wrong crowd and he is sent to jail. And now it is up to his friends to save him.

I haven’t read the source material for this, but watching it, I could not help but think that this could be made today as a feature-length film by Pixar or in stop-motion a la Fantastic Mr. Fox. But as it is presented, it also works. The character design is great, and there are times when the animation is striking. And the film its self is pretty cute and well made with some excellent music. It’s only problem is that it feels underdeveloped. So, overall it is a very good effort .

The second short is a retelling of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” I was really excited for this particular segment since that is my favorite story of all time. And it did get some thing right, such as the fact that Ichabod is an ugly jerk, etc. However, I did not like the fact that it focused on Ichabod and him thinking that he the cat’s pajamas just because he is from the city, as well as the love triangle between him, Brom, the town’s well-intentioned Bully, and Katrina, the girls who purposely uses her good looks to pith Brom and Ichabod against one another. My dislike comes from the fact that whenever I think of Ichabod Crane I think of the headless horseman, curses, legends, and frights, but we don’t get any of that until the end. And that is when things go interesting, not only in the story department, but as well as the animation. Prior to this, the animation was nice, but uninteresting. During the final act of the story there are some breathtaking sequences that actually feel out of place from the rest. I’d say that these last few minutes save the segment, and actually makes the entire film worth watching.

All in all, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is not great, but you won’t end up feeling like you wasted an hour, as I felt with Fun and Fancy Free.

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