The Wacky Zoo of Morgan City (1970)

WackyZooOfMorganCityTitleYou can have Dr. Seuss’s If I Ran the Zoo with its totally made up monsters, exotic lands, and that praise-craving brat Gerald McGrew. If I ran a freaking zoo, I’d do it just like Mitch Collins (Hal Holbrook) did in Wacky Zoo of Morgan City with its run down and surely dangerous and inhumane cages, toothless lion that has low blood pressure and eats oatmeal, camel who can only eat a couple of carrots at a time due to digestive issues, and penguin who demands to swim in warm water.

Mitch didn’t need to go to any fancy pants island like Gwark to obtain his specimens. When he wasn’t stalking an out of control pelican who’d taken over a farmer’s barn, the good citizens of Morgan City would just dump off their awesome animal finds (like skunks) right at the zoo!

Another of those long lost two part Walt Disney TV movies, Wacky Zoo of Morgan City again demonstrates just as My Dog the Thief and Sammy the Way-Out Seal did that once you had a kick ass title, threw in some kids and animal antics, and filled them out with a collection of acting veterans who could make all the right faces whenever an animal was licking them or stealing their food, there was simply no way the result could be anything other than pleasingly predictable in its satisfying shenanigans!

The Mayor of Morgan City has a problem! He (Joe Flynn again dominating the authority figure role he so ably handled in other Disney fare such as Now You See Him, Now You Don’t) is looking at a tough reelection and desperately needs the support of some rich, influential old hags (he even refers to one as a battle axe!), but their support appears conditioned on him supporting a new art museum for the city.

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The only real hitch with the art museum is that it needs 25 acres and the perfect 25 acres is right smack in the middle of where the Morgan City Zoo is! Mayor Philbrick is eager to please and immediately sets about making sure the long-neglected zoo continues to fail so that no one complains when it’s torn down for the evil art museum!

To that end he assigns ambitious city employee Mitch Collins to run the zoo! Mitch may be smart, hard working, and committed to doing a great job no matter the task, but the problem is that he’s an accountant! He’ll be great in making sure that the chimp’s expense report is filled out correctly, but how in the world is he going to go about running the zoo on a day to day basis without professional help?

Who the hell needs any zookeeping experience or assistance when you’ve got every kid in Morgan City pitching in to help! In what has to be one of the largest cases of endangering children’s welfare since kids were used in the Crusades in the Middle Ages, Mitch eagerly allows the kids to clean cages, feed animals, and hang around with the lion! And he uses his own kid most of all!

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While Mayor Philbrick was busy browbeating the head of the Health Department into forcing Mitch to remove the new animals from the zoo because of some obscure health code, you wonder why he just didn’t call Social Services!

Mitch isn’t about to be stopped by some wimpy quarantine law though! He’s already gone native on this whole zoo assignment, having stood up to his wife when she said he was a laughing stock (she sounds like gator feed, Mitch!) and even rejecting the Mayor’s offer of a job as assistant mayor, when he simply decides to house all the animals in and around his house! Right at the same time his wife is having their once a year big time dinner party! Oh gads, but I hope that ostrich doesn’t get loose!

Mitch’s idea to open a children’s zoo with baby animals only causes the Morgan City Zoo to surge further in popularity, but not even cute little bobcat babies can halt the political process! The city council is prepared to vote to close the zoo so that the art museum can be built when the kids have an idea!

They’re going to take all the animals out of the zoo, march down the road to city hall and storm the council chambers until their zoo is saved! That this is probably the most ingenious idea since man invented the wheel is confirmed when we inexplicably see Danny Bonaduce as one of the kids egging on the decision to stage the animal sit-in!

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A greet deal of mammal mayhem ensues and the result is that Mayor Philbrick is soon breaking ground on the new Mayor Philbrick Municipal Zoo! And even that isn’t without trouble as the feckless Mayor is depending on his incompetent assistant Becker (the hilarious Wally Cox) to run the cue cards of his speech while hiding in a bush! Disaster results when Becker is distracted by a sexy woman walking by and forgets to change the cue cards on time!

Wacky Zoo of Morgan City easily delivers everything and more that its title promises! The animals turn it up a notch at the dinner party with the runaway ostrich and a food pilfering chimp and there’s no way the appearance of a kissing bear can be anything but awesome.

The humans do a nice job as well, particularly the slimy duo of the Mayor and his assistant. The mayor’s constant worries about what the morning paper says about him, complaints about lazy city employees and disdain for Becker’s penchant for accidentally telling the truth on a variety of issues the mayor is trying to avoid are even funnier than the animal antics! And how could a movie where an art museum is the bad guy, be anything but wondrously wacky!

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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