Jack and the Beanstalk (1970)

JackBeanstalkWonderfulOzCoverFee, fi, fo, fum! I smell the stench of another shabby Barry Mahon kiddie picture! This is the other movie on the DVD from Something Weird that features The Wonderful Land Of Oz, a movie that looks positively big budget compared to this one.

At least Barry’s ill-advised trip to Oz actually had the actors in costume, In Jack And The Beanstalk, most of the folks who wander around the set are dressed up like they were extras on an episode of The Brady Bunch, resulting in some scary striped pants, fringed vests, and a haircut for Jack that Peter Brady would have appreciated.

Jack lives with his ugly old mom who has a penchant for wearing orange and his hot sister who is characterized by her obsessive greed. Back when Jack’s dad was still alive, they were living the good life because dad had a job inventing stuff like a mechanical goose that can lay golden eggs.

He also invented the forerunner to the player piano, a harp that could play tunes on its own, which while pretty nifty, probably didn’t get a lot of attention what with this goose pooping out oval shaped gold nuggets whenever Jack needed a new XBox game.

Then Jack’s dad croaked and his inventions got stolen. His family, who were obviously just worthless parasites, sat around and wasted the wealth and then sat around whining about how all the wealth was wasted.

Jack’s mom finally makes the command decision that it’s time to sell the last family possession she could get ten bucks or so for, the family cow.

For reasons unknown to anyone who has ever laid eyes on the dimwitted Jack, Mama has him take the cow to town to sell instead of getting off her dead ass to do it herself.

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Jack takes it to Honest John, Used Cow Salesman and starts haggling with Honest John. Yes, it was really called “Honest John, Used Cow Salesman” and yes this is what’s supposed to pass for contemporary humor in this movie. Much like Jack’s family, it doesn’t work either. As all of us know, Honest John gets Jack to take a handful of magic beans instead of cash for the cow.

Jack’s mom chucks the beans out the window where they promptly sprout into a large very fake-looking vine. Jack climbs the vine and discovers a magic land that looks like a stage filled with dry ice smoke and a really bad painting of a castle in the background.

In a movie replete with moments that involuntarily engage the viewer’s gag reflex (like when Honest John decides that he needs to sing a few songs), the worst has to be when Jack is either walking toward the castle or coming back from it.

He kind of hops and lopes and I wasn’t sure if he was trying to simulate that it was a really long distance to walk, or that the clouds were difficult to walk on or that he got some sort of jock itch from the vine. Ultimately, it looked like the kind of slow, spastic dance a kid like Jack would have been doing at his junior high prom.

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Up in the castle lives a giant and he’s a fat, hairy guy who shouts his lines to emphasize just how gigantic he is. He has a wife who spends the movie fixing him lunch and all the scenes in the castle take place in a room where there is an oversized chair and table.

Oddly enough, it was oversized even for our giant. Maybe he was just a small giant with an inferiority complex who compensated by buying really big dining room sets. Or maybe he was trying to compensate for having to sing the same stupid “Fee Fi Fo Fum” song three times.

The movie goes from being inept to repetitive when we have to watch Jack climb the vine to the giant’s castle three different times. The giant turns out to be the one who ripped off Jack’s family of their golden goose and the singing harp. He also has a bag of golden eggs. Jack steals each of these items back one at a time while the giant sleeps.

The only time Jack interacts with the giant is when he runs in front of him to nab these items. Considering how poorly done these shots are with Jack superimposed over a blown-up shot of the snoozing fat guy, Barry shows admirable restraint in only showing it three times.

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Writer, director, and producer Barry Mahon gives new meaning to the phrase “triple threat” with this one as he somehow defies the odds and manages to pack in even more dumb ideas, bad costume design, and lame special effects than in his visit to Oz.

Even at eight minutes less than the Oz movie on the DVD, Jack is the picture that lays the biggest not-so-golden egg of the two. And keep in mind that The Wonderful Land Of Oz movie also featured his own kid who couldn’t sing and performers who had trouble remembering their lines.

Something Weird goes the extra mile with this DVD, packing it with all sorts of awful kiddie-oriented material (two movies, featurette, cartoons, coming attractions, poster gallery) so that your child will be in for hours of extra punishment when you put them in front of this.

If you’ve ever been concerned that your tyke spends too much time in front of the boob tube, you need to set him or her up with this one. That kid will be begging to go outside and ride his Big Wheel into traffic almost immediately! Masochistic adults who revel in watching people humiliate themselves will no doubt be delighted with the entire package.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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