Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

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Twice Upon a Time and Dirk Gently

I was thinking this morning about the upcoming re-release of THX-1138. The director's cut plays in select (read: distant) theatres beginning on September 10th, and the DVD comes out on the 14th. That darn Georgie Lucas has added over 100 CGI effects to the film (examples here), and his fans -- even the ones who got violent when he "improved" the original Star Wars trilogy -- seem to be reacting positively. I understand that THX-1138 has a substantial fanbase, but I'm hoping that Lucasfilm will start re-releasing some of its lesser-known and underappreciated works. I'm not too excited about a CGI-enhanced Howard The Duck, but it'd be nice to see The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles make their way to DVD. Even nicer would be a DVD release of Twice Upon a Time.

Remember Twice Upon a Time? No, of course you don't. Nobody does. It's the movie Lucasfilm probably wants, for no good reason, to completely bury and forget about.

Twice Upon a Time is an animated film from the early '80s. At the time Lucasfilm made a big deal about it being animated using a special process called Lumage, in which backlit, crepe paper figures were animated using stop motion (think early episodes of South Park). It's not always pretty, but is always unique, and the movie is a helluva lot of fun. The story centers around Ralph, the All-Purpose Animal and his friend Mumford the No-Purpose Nothing, who live and work in sunny Frivoli, exporter of all the world's dreams. After screwing up one too many times, Ralph and Mumford are banned from Frivoli and unwittingly agree to help out Synonamess Botch: evil genius, proprietor of The Murkworks (origin of the world's nightmares), and all-around bad guy. Botch needs the spring from The Cosmic Clock, which controls the flow of time. If he controls time, he can make nightmares that never end. Add to the mix Flora Fauna (aspiring actress), Rod Rescueman (perspiring superhero), Ralph and Mumford's Brooklynese fairy godmother, and Ibor the Video Gorilla and you've got... um, you've got a movie that far too few people have seen.

My description probably makes Twice Upon a Time sound like a children's movie, and that, I think, is why too few people have seen it. In an attempt to find an audience for the movie, one of the directors recorded a whole bunch of alternate, R-rated dialogue, and that version played on HBO. The movie's not likely to be out on DVD anytime soon, because the other director doesn't approve of the "adult" cut, and won't release the rights. Lucasfilm probably doesn't expect the movie to be profitable anyway, and have pretty much dropped the issue. Personally, I'd rather see a release of the PG version (or maybe both on one disc). It's ridiculously entertaining, it's a good way to kill an hour and a half when you have to watch somebody's children on a moment's notice. The adult version has some good jokes, but not good enough to warrant having to explain what "douchebag" means to a five year old, and then having to explain to somebody why their kid suddenly knows the word "douchebag."

Anyway, Twice Upon a Time. Don't know if anybody in the area rents it, but I have a disintegrating copy on VHS and one (or more) of the libraries in the South-Central Wisconsin system has it.

On a totally different note, I just reread Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams. I have to reread these books every couple of years, usually in the wrong order, and I think they're fantastic. Anyway, I recall Douglas Adams talking (long ago) about a couple of very failed attempts at turning Dirk Gently into a movie. As I was reading, it struck me repeatedly that Mel Smith would fit perfectly into the role of Dirk. I haven't seen him in anything for a good decade, but his performance as Rocco Melonchek in Brain Donors (another "fine" film I'm embarrassed to recommend) is pretty damned close to what I'd imagine Dirk to be like. Am I insane, or am I onto something? And did anybody read this far before giving up on my post?
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