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  Twice Upon A Time Like Dreamers Do
Year: 1983
Director: John Korty, Charles Swenson
Stars: Lorenzo Music, Marshall Efron, James Cranna, Julie Payne, Hamilton Camp, Paul Frees, Judith Kahan
Genre: Comedy, Animated, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: The Rushers of Din spend their lives hurrying about their city, but when they go to sleep at night, their dreams are lorded over by two factions. There are the people of Frivoli, who take care of the nice dreams, planted into the minds of the Rushers by Greensleeves and his Figmen of the Imagination, while their evil counterparts reside in the Murkworks, led by Synonamess Botch, whose vultures drop nightmares into the heads of the unsuspecting. But Botch is not content with sharing, and decides to take the radical step of kidnapping Greensleeves and his Figmen all the better to take over the world of dreams once and for all...

A long forgotten animation from the eighties, Twice Upon a Time now has the quality of a half-remembered dream, and even after you watch it the fertile imagination on display doesn't quite click. With no real stars among the voice talent except perhaps for Lorenzo Music, better known as the voice of Garfield on the television cartoons, the most famous name associated with it was George Lucas, here filling the producer's role. However, it didn't really feel like a typical Lucas project either, and existed in two versions, one for the children and another for the adults.

Well, I say adults, but the grown up stuff in that version mostly consists of minor swearing, so one character will be called a "dipshit" while another is insulted with "asshole". In truth, these elements don't suit the film at all, being needlessly crude and bringing down the magical atmosphere to earth, although they could have been worse. Yet what most catches the attention is not the often rambling and garbled dialogue, but the whole look of the production, an attractively loopy example of cut out animation, where instead of cels pieces of paper under glass were utilised to create the characters and their world.

The story is less enthralling however, as it is more of an excuse to mount superbly rendered sequences of strangeness and comedy, which if they're not incredibly funny, then at least are good natured. What the tale consists of is your basic quest combined with beating the villain, where our two main heroes, Ralph (a shapeshifting animal wearing spectacles unmistakably voiced by Music) and Mumford (a human who does magic tricks but never speaks, hence his nickname Mum) accidentally go on a search for the Cosmic Clock, as requested to by Botch (Marshall Efron).

If Botch gets hold of that clock, or more importantly the glowing spring inside it, he will have the power to implement his wicked schemes, ensuring that nobody in Din has any dreams except nightmares. When Ralph and Mumford free the spring, everyone in the city slows down to a complete halt, and they realise that Botch has tricked them. These aren't the only characters, as there is also the aspiring thespian Flora Fauna (Julie Payne), the Fairy Godmother (Judith Kahan) who aims them in the right direction in her short-tempered manner, and the resident superhero Rod Rescueman (James Cranna), notable more for his enthusiasm than his skill. While all this is captivating up to a point, there is a feeling of sitting with someone chattering on about this great story they've thought up without much thought of making it more accessible for you, the audience. Therefore it's probably better to look at than follow. Music by Dawn Atkinson and Ken Melville.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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