Babes in Toyland (November 27/04)
Innocuous and instantly forgettable, Babes in Toyland has clearly been designed to appeal strictly to children. There's not much here for adults to latch onto; the story is extremely predictable and the characters are (pardon the pun) cartoonish. About the only redeemable aspect to the film is the voice acting, which is surprisingly effective (it probably helps that folks like Christopher Plummer and Bronson Pinchot are among the performers).
The story kicks off when Jack and Jill (voiced by Joey Ashton and Lacey Chabert) are sent to live with their evil Uncle Barnaby (Plummer) after their parents die. Barnaby is initially reluctant to take in the kids, but quickly changes his mind after learning of their hefty inheritance. Making things worse, Barnaby plans to use that money to buy the local toy factory and shut it down - effectively ending Christmas. It's up to Jack and Jill - along with several familiar Nursey Rhyme characters, including Humpty Dumpty (Charles Nelson Reilly) and Mary Lamb (Cathy Cavadini) - to prevent Barnaby from succeeding.
There's also a subplot involving several demons that are helping Barnaby, though this portion of the movie might be a little too disturbing for really little kids. Otherwise, Babes in Toyland is exactly the sort of flick one expects to see a three-year-old watching repeatedly - much to the consternation of any adults in the nearby vicinity. Toy Story or The Lion King (or any Disney film, really) this ain't. Having said that, the animation is bright and colorful, while the movie's many songs are fairly catchy (though not entirely memorable).
Babes in Toyland delivers pretty much what it promises - no more, no less. Unless you're a really big fan of one of the voice performers or a hard-core animation fan, there's no need to sit through this (despite the fact that it's essentially painless).