In this third made-for-TV production of the classic show, the Disney touch is an effective one: The cast and crew iron out the satirical wrinkles to deliver a smoothly pressed family musical.
Many moons ago, things were not well in the far-off land ruled by Queen Aggravain (Carol Burnett, who made her 1959 Broadway review as the show's ingenue). Although unmarried Prince Dauntless (Dennis O’Hare) should be in the market for a suitable princess, his over-protective mother has ensured that no candidate ever passed muster. With the help of her Wizard (Edward Hibbert), Aggravain is confident that Dauntless will remain a Mama’s Boy forever. And by unjust royal decree, no one in the entire kingdom may marry until the aging bachelor is hitched! This is especially distressing news for Sir Harry (Matthew Morrison) and his fiancee, Lady Larkin (Zooey Deschanel), who is carrying Sir Harry’s child. Sir Harry takes it upon himself to remedy the sorry state of matrimonial affairs and, knowing that the local talent pool of potential brides has been exhausted, begins a tour of lesser kingdoms. In the swampy land of Wallows-in-the-Mire he discovers blue-blooded Princess Winnifred (Tracey Ullman), a tomboy who mightily impresses Dauntless with her singing, dancing, drinking, wrestling etc. Clearly, the usual rigged contests aren't going to disqualify this bumpkin, so Aggravain and the Wizard take a cue from Hans Christian Anderson’s "The Princess and the Pea" and devise a no-win test for Winnifred, who sleeps like the proverbial stone. Aggravain plunks Winnifred atop 40 downy mattresses, and slips her a sleeping draught to further stack the sleepy-time deck – insensitive Winnifred will never detect the presence of a pea now! Fortunately, she the Queen's ladies-in-waiting and their frustrated bridegrooms-to-be are willing to lend a hand.
This new spin lacks the raucous abandon of the 1964 and 1972 versions, both of which starred Burnett in her signature role as Winnifred, despite some missteps in framing the dances, director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall brings an infectious bounce to the musical numbers. Burnett and Ullman make deliciously campy foes, and Deschanel nearly steals the show as the wistful unwed mother.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: In this third made-for-TV production of the classic show, the Disney touch is an effective one: The cast and crew iron out the satirical wrinkles to deliver a smoothly pressed family musical. Many moons ago, things were not well in the far-off land rule… (more)