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Monday, April 27, 2009

ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN (1975)



Walt Disney’s son-in-law, Ron Miller, all but ran the Disney brand into the ground in the period between Walt’s death in 1966 and the start of the Eisner/Katzenberg era in 1984. ESCAPE may hold a bit of nostalgic charm for those who saw it ‘back when,’ but without the blinders of childhood matinee Saturdays to color one’s response, all that remains on screen is an almost contemptuous lack of filmmaking craft. And this was one of Miller’s better releases! The story isn’t to blame (two orphaned siblings with super-natural powers search for their family while a rich villain tracks them down in order to use their powers for his own nefarious purposes), you can see why there have been sequels, remakes & spin-offs, but the actual product is both inept & inert with F/X that takes the special out of Special Effects, a narrative structure that goes from one clunky plot point to another, direction that avoids any & every opportunity for magic or suspense, and wooden acting by actors young & old. (Nice trained kitty-cat, though.)  Puerile stuff; ‘70s pablum for the conservative family market in a changing cultural landscape.

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