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Part Two of Two: Alice in Wonderland the movie

posted by Jen on 10/26/01

A bloody wound. A tissue, after you have blown your nose. An incredibly disfigured person. Steve Allen’s reproduction of Alice in Wonderland and the follow-on of Alice Through the Looking Glass. What do these items have in common? Besides the image of Blossom Russo that immediately comes to mind? They all fall under that elusive category of disgusting items we simply cannot turn our heads away from, no matter how damaging they might be. We are filled with obvious displeasure when looking at these items. We agree that looking at these items is inherently wrong and, in some way, upsets the delicate balance in the universe. And yet, we keep going back for more, again and again. Now, if I didn’t write for a pop culture web site, perhaps I would spend a little time with the dirty tissue thing, because really, why are people compelled to look in the tissue after they blow their nose? And yet, nose-blowers and lookers have the right to wonder the same about me -- why, after she admits that these movies are probably the worst in Steve Allen’s repertoire, does Jen watch them again and again? Have the actors improved upon the original book’s intention? No. Are the movies as funny as it claims to be? No. But, for some reason, I simply can’t turn my head away.

Whenever I pop in the movies, I like to imagine Steve Allen’s thought process when selecting the individuals. It’s like Steve thought, “No, Tom Selleck won’t do. We’re going to need to bring in Scotty Baio for the role of the pig.” And, “I’m liking the idea of a man dressed in newspaper talking to a horse and a goat. I’ve got it! I’ll be the man in the news. Pat Morita will be the horse! And Patrick Duffy will be the goat”

It just makes you think, were these roles arbitrarily assigned to friends who were badly in need of a gig to get them through the year? NO. These roles were assigned to actors who had the individual experience and/or personality that was appropriate for the role. Let’s take a peek, shall we?

Why Carol Channing is the obvious choice as the “White Queen”

Definition of “White Queen”:

A woman regarded as pre-eminent in a certain field or domain.

As opposed to Black Queen

Many people thought Carol was a queen in this movie because she wore a long white cape and stood on the chessboard next to the king. But Ms. Channing was actually a queen because she was the only one to sing two (2) songs, demonstrating expertise on two different subjects: mathematics and gourmet cuisine. Plus, she was the only adult in the film who turned into a goat. As opposed to Patrick Duffy, who got to play the goat from the beginning.

(Of course, I’m only writing these songs in to show off my awesome memory)

Math: (ellipses in song indicate lapse in memory):

Can you do addition, what is one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and two? Yes you. Can you do subtraction – 9 from 8 and 8 from 9 and and 6 from 10 and 4 from 7 too? Can you do multiply my dear than what is 9 times five and six times 8 and four times three and two times ten? Can you do division six divided by the three and then the two? And then again. Forget your slumbers!
Recall your numbers….Because the plusses and the minuses are sure to clear your sinuses….

Jam Tomorrow:

Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never any jam today!
Oh! Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never any jam today!

Well you can wish as you want and you can want as you wish, but never let ‘em hear you say….

Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never any jam today!
Oh! Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never EVER EVER any jam TOOOOO DAYYYYYY!

The highlight of her career, and the best part of this movie comes right after this song, when Alice says, “So, is your finger feeling better?” And Carol responds, “Oh YESSSSSSSSSS, Much BEEEEHHHHHHHHtah.. MUCH BEHHHHHHHHHHHtah…Then her face scrunches up all tightly, her eyes get really droopy, and seconds later she becomes a goat. What intrigues me most about this part in the movie is the idea I always had that Carol Channing may very well have turned into a goat right here. That’s how convincing her acting is here, seriously.

And why does Carol continue to retain Queen status today? Because she is one of those rare celebrities who gets to play “herself” in almost every movie and TV show in which she appears.

Why Scott Baio is the obvious choice for “Pat the Pig”:

Definition of pig:

1. Any of several hoofed mammals with short legs, cloved hoofs, bristly hair, and a snout
2. A person resembling a pig, as in being greedy or gross.

Those of us over 20 remember Mr. Baio’s “nice guy” roles on Joanie Loves Chachi and Happy Days, playing the feathery (bristly) haired Charles “Chachi” Arcola. I think all of us would recognize him as Charles in Charge as “Charles” (when he became so talented, he was recognized without the “Chachi” Arcola attachment; also, got to be “in Charge.”). All of the web sites dedicated to him talk about what a “cutie” he was, what a great actor, what a hero for the Italian culture. Now I don’t think Scott Baio resembles a pig so much with regard to definition 1, but let’s think for just a minute about definition 2. Who is the only man we know who excluded his best friend from parties and from basically any event involving girls? Charles. Who is the only man we know who hooked up with Gwendolyn Pierce, but still managed to hit on Jaime and Sarah whenever they innocently asked him for help with homework? Charles. And let me tell you, this was no acting. In real life, Scott Baio was completely out of hand. If he wasn’t saying disgusting things to Pamela Anderson about her breasts, he was trying to get jiggy with Mindy Cohn on her 16th birthday. I’m not looking for laughs here, I learned all of this with a little fastest fingers typing on Yahoo; it’s all over the internet. I think it’s pretty obvious why Steve Allen cast him to throw his nuts all over Alice.

Well I ain’t payin no 50 cents for no coke!

Get your mind out of the gutter -- Pat the Pig was throwing nuts at Alice that turned into little cakes! Then she ate them! And then her body shrank!

I think the role of Pat the Pig adequately encapsulates Scott Baio’s career. The role lasted about 5 minutes. He never had an interesting thing to say. And he was chasing a skirt the whole time.


Why Pat Morita is the obvious choice for “The Horse”:

Definition of horse:

1. A large, hoofed quadruped mammal, with a long mane and tail, used for riding and for pulling vehicles or carrying loads.
2. A piece of gymnastic equipment used esp. for vaulting.

Now, of course Definition 1 doesn’t apply to this guy, seeing as how he somehow finagled a way to get Daniel-san to carry the loads of paint to fix up his house and wax his car. But with regards to definition 2, we can most definitely recognize why Mr. Miyagi would be an obvious comparison to vaulting equipment. I think it’s important to mention that Daniel, the Karate Kid, was first and foremost a gymnast, in terms of athletic build and capabilities. And as everyone knows, the horse is the most vital piece of gymnastic equipment one could own. You see, Mr. Miyagi basically served as the vault that hoisted Daniel-san into karate mastery. Mr. Miyagi was a strong, supportive figure, who never spoke extemporaneously or tried to wield power over Daniel; he simply stood strong and let Daniel learn from experience. Just like the horse on the gym mat…Do you think Kerry Shrug would be the famous gymnast she is today if it weren’t for her infamous horse/vault/broken leg/landing? Of course not. The horse is an overlooked, but vital piece of equipment.

In Alice Through the Looking Glass, Pat Morita spends most of the time nodding and stroking his beard, only speaking when he had important things to say that would help Alice’s plight.

After the train starts running out of control, Alice pulls on the Goat’s chin and suddenly stops the train. The Horse wisely says, “She yanked on your chinny chin chin…ho ho…looks like she got your goat that time.” While the line was supposed to be funny, instead, it turned out to be the only sensible line uttered on the entire train ride. Nobody could figure out why the train stopped, nobody, except for Pat Morita.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Morita was born in 1932, which is the year of the sheep, not the horse. That would have been really great if he were born in the year of the horse.


Why Sammy Davis Jr. is the obvious choice for The Caterpillar and Old “Father William”:

Definition of caterpillar: The brightly colored, hairy, larva of a butterfly or moth

Definition of Old Father William:
A man who, somehow, finds a way to bring his tap-dancing ability into every story line, no matter how illogical it seems. See also “Alfonso Ribiero”

I admit, that saying Sammy Davis Jr. is a caterpillar is a tenuous link at best, but I know that Sammy Davis Jr. has been associated with Butterfly McQueen on more than one occasion. As far as the Old Father William end, I’m not sure there could be a man more perfect for this role if Savion Glover himself joined us. Mr. Bojangles doesn’t mess around.


Why John Stamos is the obvious choice as “The Messenger”:

Definition of messenger:

A person who carries messages or runs errands.

Besides just serving as the messenger to the king (think Danny Tanner), the messenger also joined the king in a rendition of the song “The Lion and the Unicorn.” The Lion and the Unicorn is a song about the power struggle between the mythical lion and the unicorn…but I think that song screams of the power struggle between Danny and Joey to raise those girls. It’s funny, because as John Stamos is singing the song about them, you can see his eyes glistening with what I like to think is jealousy. Poor Uncle Jesse ran more errands for those ungrateful brats than Danny or Joey combined. And all he got to do was strum the guitar and sing songs about Me-chell and Daniel. Where’s the justice?

Since my b.aby left me…I found a new place to smell.


Why Sherman Helmsley is the obvious choice as “The Mouse”:

Definition of mouse:

1. Any of numerous small rodents with a long, hairless tail
2. The opposite of “man” as in, “Are you a man or a mouse?”

Now, there is no doubt that the role of a mouse in what may have been one of the worst movies ever made completely emasculated poor Mr. Helmsley. Between the gray mouse suit, the buck teeth, and the fact that he had to sing this song (which is completely off the top of my head, seriously), I can’t imagine ever looking at this guy again and thinking, “What a hot man.” Come to think of it, I’m not sure anyone but Louise Jefferson actually thought of him as a “hot man,” but he once was a man, nonetheless…until this song came out of his lips:

Dowgs and Cats:

Now I hate dowgs, and I hate cats
I’m also not so fond of bats
Cause to me they oh so large
And I tremble…when they CHARGE! (scrunches nose, sticks out buck teeth, and throw hands in air)
(Dances with dodo bird and Alice)
I’m a coward…from my head down to my SPATTTT
So I’ll tell you straight (dadadadada) What I really hate (dadadadadada)

Poor Sherman Helmsley. After this movie, he was relegated to the most unfortunate roles in duds such as Jane Austin’s Mafia!, Up, Up, and Away!, and Screwed! He landed movies with lots of exclamation points, suggesting that they might have been good movies, but he never played interesting roles outside of “Brotha #1” and “Grocer.” His manhood was pretty much destroyed by Alice in Wonderland.

Other notable and quite appropriate appearances (which won’t be mentioned in detail because, frankly, if I’m tired of writing this article, you’ve probably stopped reading by now):

Merv Griffin: the Conductor (Mr. Griffin continues to be the “conductor” of America’s favorite game shows)
Telly Savalas: the Cheshire Cat (The Cheshire Cat is one of the only characters who is recognized MORE without his body. Mr. Savalas was one of the first celebrities to be recognized MORE without his hair.

Hopefully you can understand why this movie holds such a special place in my heart. If the distinguished list of individuals above doesn’t have you convinced, perhaps you can visualize the song and dance routines, the beauteous costumes, and the odd satisfaction I get from recognizing bad special effects. The Clockwork Orange music in the background provides an interesting backdrop to boot. It’s like, you can just feel that this movie is much more gruesome than meets the eye. It doesn’t take much for me to come home after a long day at work, pluck the trusty movie into the VCR, and plop down on my sofa in expectation of a few hours of vapid goodness. Sure, most normal people would probably rather spend the hour inflicting wounds upon themselves or staring at disfigured people, but for me, these two movies are all I need on a cold winter’s day. And a cake that says Eat Me too. How delicious, OMG!!1


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