Twice Upon a Time (1983) Poster

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The story BEHIND the story of "Twice",...
nameless_monster24 January 2005
OK - as far as the 2 versions of this movie. There were 2 people involved in the making - John Korty and Bill Couterie (George was just the producer - he really didn't have any kind of say so in the film - just helped with money) - the 'Adult' version was made possible by Bill Couterie. John Korty didn't like or approve this version (as it was done behind his back). Thanks to Ladd films going under, they didn't advertise this movie and threw all their advertising cash for "The Right Stuff", hoping it would pull them through;... and it didn't. SO, this movie never really had a chance. When "Twice" made it to cable (HBO) - they showed the reels with Bill's version and John threatened to sue if it was shown anymore (did you notice how the 'adult' version wasn't on for very long?). Showtime got the 'clean' version. The version on the videotape and laser-disc is the version approved by John (who holds more power than Bill). It's a pity, really, as the 'adult' version is actually better and DOES make more sense. But it's VERY doubtful that it will ever be released in that version onto DVD (or any other format short of bootleg). Sorry to disappoint everyone. I know all this info as I used to be the president of the Twice Upon A Time Fan Club (still have numerous items from the movie - used to own a letter-boxed version of the 'adult' version, but it was stolen - only have a partial HBO copy of it now). 8 stars to the 'adult' version - 5 to the 'clean' version. Any other questions, just ask.
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They tapdance not, neither do they fart.
Muffy-515 December 2000
I have grown up with this movie. I was a pre-teen when I first saw it, and I've watched it every year or so since then, and I get something different out of it each time. One of this film's strengths (and maybe one reason why it wasn't a success) is that it targets a huge cross-section of people...there is some relatively vulgar humour (I have never heard the G dialogue so I don't know how much of the humour that removed...hopefully Botch still eats the insect in his navel!), references to parts of our culture, social commentary (the Rushers of Din would LIKE to be friendly, but their just isn't any TIME), a heroic and exciting story, some disturbing nightmarish imagery, some cute stuff for the kids, lots of self-aware humour, and -- in my opinion the biggest asset -- it's damn weird. Especially the dialogue. The voice actors are phenomenal, and they occasionally mutter their lines, which adds to the strangeness of the whole project. It's great, years later, to finally decipher one of those lines!

Technically, it's amazing. The work that went into this film...I always find myself fascinated by Botch's mouth -- his rapidly moving mouth is a series of mouth photographs brilliantly matched and synced with his dialogue -- and everything just looks GOOD. And unique, in that curious tissue-paper animation style.

This is the only film I can think of that I can show to anybody, at any age. Little kids have heard worse language than what comes out of Botch's (brilliant) mouth, and so has my grandmother.

The only downside, maybe, are the dated pop songs. Bruce Hornsby (who, in my opinion, sounded bad in 1983 as well)! That said, the orchestral score is catchy, crazy, and beautiful at times, so it's not all bad.

In fact, it's all very, very good, overall.
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An unheralded great animation from 1983.
chip9819 September 1998
One of the most unheralded great works of animation. Though it makes the most sophisticated use of the "cut-out" method of animation (a la "South Park"), the real talent behind "Twice Upon a Time" are the vocal characterizations, with Lorenzo Music's (Carlton from TV's "Rhoda") Woody Allen-ish Ralph-the-all-purpose-Animal being the centerpiece. The "accidental nightmare" sequence is doubtless one of the best pieces of animation ever filmed.
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Best live action animation film ever and hilarious!
mike_kricfalusi7 November 2002
Very little known about this gem, is the fact that It was a Lucasfilm production (yes, George Lucas) as he was perfecting his craft in this type of film (mixing animation and live action).

Not to mention, the plot and screenwriting in this film are excellent and the voice casting could not have been better. This is a stand alone funny film that will give you cramps from laughing so hard.

I worked in a Video store for 5 years and recommended this to 100's of people and was always thanked on the return.
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Easier To See Than Explain!
ccthemovieman-14 September 2006
I kind of liked this animated film, at least the first time. On the second viewing, this George Lucas-produced movie was too slow for me. Why I found that, I can't remember (it's been awhile) but on my first look I remember the uniqueness of this movie.

It is different from the rest simply because it gives you a combination of animation and black- and-white stills. It goes back and forth and sometimes on the same scene. The visuals aren't the only strange aspects. You also get a dash of zaniness in this comedy. You just don't know what crazy thing you are going to see next. There are so many unexplainable scenes that it's one of these films is better seen than explained!

I traded the VHS, along with others, for DVDs when they first came out. Now, I wish I could see this again......on DVD.
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Almost forgotten, and that's too bad
escoles26 August 2003
This is the kind of picture John Lassiter would be making today, if it weren't for advances in CGI. And that's just to say that he'd be forgotten, too, if technology hadn't made things sexy and kewl since 1983. _Twice..._ has got the same wit, imagination, and sense of real excitement that you'd find in a Pixar flick, only executed under the restrictions of the medium c. 1983. Innovative animation techniques combine with a great script and excellent voicing to produce a movie that appeals on lots of levels. It should be spoken of in the same breath with _Spiritited Away_ and _Toy Story_.
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The "other" version...
QUASI-512 January 1999
Altogether one of the finest (and funniest) animated films ever to come out of Hollywood, Twice Upon A Time is a lovingly crafted valentine to dreamers of all kinds! Extremely witty writing makes it as enjoyable for grown-ups as it is for children. Especially effective is Marshall Efron's performance as the evil villain of the picture, Synonamess Botch! My only negative comment about the video is that they have edited his dialogue in order to change and/or eliminate many of his funniest (and rudest) comments. While this was certainly necessary so that children could watch it, I wish they could have released (or will release) an un-edited version. Luckily I taped the original when it aired on cable many years ago, so I still have it to watch, and it never fails to induce serious amounts of laughter when I do. Still, I cannot recommend the edited version highly enough!

This film deserves so much more recognition than it has gotten!
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"...It was a time of desperate need for heroes. Any kind of heroes."
egarcia5 October 1998
Ralph and Mumford, misfits in their own land, get duped into being unwitting pawns of Synanomess Botch. Twice Upon a Time is the story of them, the characters they meet, and their struggle to set things right. With a surprisingly impressive soundtrack and wonderful voice acting by some of the best in the business, this offbeat movie hits the mark.

The animation process, while similar to that of the cut out "South Park" style, is much smoother and far more three-dimensional. If I didn't know that the animation was this style, I would swear that is was traditional pen and ink. If you can watch this film in Dolby Surround or THX, PLEASE DO! You won't really miss anything if you don't, but if you do, you will get much more out of the experience!
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Hidden Gem
Blueghost20 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw this classic on HBO after its short lived time as a theatrical release. The version aired on HBO is much different in two respects to the current Warner Home Video VHS version.

1) It's longer; has more footage to explain some salient story points. 2) Some of the jokes are little more risqué and daring, adding much needed R-rated humor to what's otherwise a mediocre comedy.

The film has good amounts of intellectual comedy, which range from subtle puns to sight-gags to slapstick. Most of the sight-gags are reserved for the black-&-white live action sequences, while the other jokes are kept mainly for the animated portions.

I personally find this film very funny and enjoyable, but the humor isn't for everyone. By that I mean it takes a certain kind of patience and willingness to churn the joke in your mind to really appreciate it. So even though it's a comedy, and a fairly clean one, it's not for everyone.

The funnier version is with the slightly racy humor. Some of the opening lines by the antagonist help establish his character, and add some much needed zing and energy to a film that can be hard to interpret at times. The "cleaner" version lacks this element, and suffers for it.

The film itself is somewhat difficult to describe. It's animated, but uses a unique technique called LUMAGE; where transparent and semi-transparent material is backlit and the characters and background are illuminated from behind, giving them a kind of glow. This gives the film a semi-amateurish feel, but in a good way, because the animation is meant to be styleized, and actually enhances the larger joke that the film is trying to convey: A kind of fairy tale cum melodrama spoof, set in a fantasy world that creates our dreams and nightmares.

Shot in San Francisco and the SF Bay Area en large it was fun to see and identify various places in the live action sequences (though this'll probably only appeal to folks who live in my area).

The film only has one real drawback *WARNING POSSIBLE SPOILER*; in the early sequence of the film Ralph and Mumford (our heroes) are working in the dreamworks, filling rockets with dream dust or somesuch. The idea here is that said rockets are fired off and sent to Uncle Greeny who distributes the dreams to the people of "the real world" (known as "DIN"). One rocket loses its balance or somesuch, falls over when its lit, and rockets all over the Dreamworks factory, causing much havoc. Me and my friends kind of understood what was happening in this sequence, but needed to see it several times before we were really able to discern what was happening. *SPOILER OFF*

Overall it's an enjoyable film, but the humor's tuned for those who like their jokes on the subtle and intellectual side. Watch at your own risk ;-)


After many years I saw the "adult" version of this film last night, and viewing it with adult eyes and frame of mind I must admit to having some small mixed feelings regarding the more racy dialogue. It still adds zing to the film, and helps set a certain tone for that version, but, I can see where Korty objected to the PG language. Still, given all the other references in the "clean" version of this film, I'm still puzzled as to what kind of film he ultimately trying to make. Children's films don't have innuendo, blow-up dolls, nor nude models (however gorgeous :-)) flashing on the screen. In that vein, I have to state that the film could go either way, but is, in a small way, well served with a few taboo words... though they're really needed.
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One of the most unique animated movies I've seen, and very underrated
TheLittleSongbird20 August 2012
Animation I shall always have a soft-spot for, and while Twice Upon a Time is not one of the best animated movies I've seen, it is still great especially for how unique it is. The animation has a style that I have never seen before in an animated film but it is an interesting one. It is colourful and the character features especially Botch's mouth are just as impressive. The nightmarish scenes are incredibly haunting, the accidental nightmare sequence is a definite standout, in fact of any animated film I've seen recently it was this scene that really stood out as uniquely fascinating and hugely impactful. Some of the pop tunes are on the dated side, but are still very catchy. The incidental score is one of Twice Upon a Time's greatest assets, very beautiful and addicting, there are some crazy aspects as well that fit very well. The script is witty and funny, the humour is quite racy for the time but very effective still, while the story is exciting, the characters are interesting the voice acting from particularly Lorenzo Music and Marshall Efron is top-notch. All in all, unique and great animated movie, sadly also it is underrated. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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A lost classic animated movie.
emasterslake15 November 2006
I first saw this on the Disney Channel back several years ago. And just fell in love with this movie.

Twice Upon a Time takes place in 3 different worlds. Frivoli the home of Sweet Dreams, Murkworks the production of nightmares, and Rushers of Din(mainly the real world we live in). We're called Rushers because we don't have time to remind us what we need to do and what we need to get. While the dream worlds have all the time they need. They explain so in the movie.

The 2 dream lands compete over the Rushers' slumber during nighttime. Greensleeves, an eccentric old Leprechaun is in charge of delivering good dreams with the help of his little works Figs(Figmen of Imagination). While Synonamess Botch the short-tempered and mischievous owner of Murkworks Nightmare Factory, sends out his vultures that drop Nightmare Bombs on the snoozing Rushers. And they also capture and imprisoned the Figs at Murkworks. Greensleeves sends an S.O.S. that Murkworks is holding his helpers. But he was captured and held prisoner at Murkworks.

Meanwhile in Frivoli, 2 would-be heroes: Ralph(the multi-changing animal)and Mum(a sound o fix talking prankster) try to fit in the society but were exiled to Garbage duty because they didn't include "La La's" during their working shift. Flora Fauna(a flower actress) is worried about her Uncle, Greensleeves. She accidentally got in with the other garbage and met Ralph and Mum. Flora received a letter from her uncle and now knows that he's in trouble. Mum and Ralph find this to be the opportunity to become heroes.

Meanwhile Botch has an idea in tricking them to stop "THE Cosmic Clock" and releasing the Magic Mainspring. Which ultimately stopped time, and gives Botch the advantage to place Nightmare Bombs everywhere in Rin. And once the Magic Mainspring returns to the clock then Rin will become a city of nightmares. It's up to Ralph and Mum to prove themselves as the heroes.

Twice Upon a Time is a really great animated movie. Very unappreciated too, due to the fact that it didn't receive any potential when it first came out in limited theater release. From what I read on the internet and what not. The cool thing about is, the unique animation and special effects making it very fascinating to watch. And features THE Lorenzo Music as the voice of Ralph. It's also distributed by LucasFilms and produced by George Lucas himself. I only seen the family version of this movie. And it may be awhile for me to see the original version. Mature or Family Safe, doesn't matter which one I've seen, it's still a wonderful movie.

And a real shame that it's hard to find and rarely heard of now and days. It deserves a decent DVD release. The G rated version that I've seen is perfectly fine. Just has one drinking scene, non-exposing nudity, and plenty of gun fire. But trust me any kid will enjoy this movie.
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TWICE UPON A TIME (John Korty and Charles Swenson, 1983) ***1/2
Bunuel19762 January 2009
Despite the patronage of George Lucas, this captivating and totally original fantasy in "Lumage" (a combination of animation through live action cut-outs) is about as far removed from the usual kiddie fare as anything made by Ralph Bakshi in his heyday. Brilliantly conceived characters such as the shape-shifting dog Ralph (one of a duo of bumbling, rejected heroes), Synonamess Botch (the hilariously foul-mouthed villain) and Rod Rescueman (the pompous novice superhero) breathe life into a uniquely clever concept: Frivoli vs. Murkwood or, the eternal fight between dreams and nightmares. In this context, the MOR-infused songs on the soundtrack ought not to have worked but somehow they do. It's a real pity, therefore, that I have had to watch this via a truly crappy-looking boot (culled from a TV screening) of the uncensored version – there is also a milder variant that toned down the language for its VHS release – since the film is otherwise unavailable on DVD. Interestingly, both Henry Selick and David Fincher worked on this picture in subordinate capacities.
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Still wising for a DVD of this "Classic" Feature!!!
moviebob0119 September 2003
Man , I always forget how good this film is until someone says "Are you here to work or what"? And I start to reply "I am here to what, and where am I? ( Paraphraising the film) Love the story, my twin girls thikn it is "The Bomb"!! (a ggod thing they tell me!) It is soo sad Warner Bros does not run with this on DVD with alot of the behind the scenes stuff. Especially since they have NO other "Lucas" propertierws I am aware of in the Library at the studio in Burbank!

You never know a good thing till it's gone do ya ol' WB????
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one of our favorite movies
mycroft-26 January 1999
a truly demented spoof of fairy tales. wild, wacky, and completely charming. a modern melodrama that will have you cheering the heros, booing the villain, and laughing over & over again. the clever animation combined with a twisted dialogue makes for wonderful family viewing. my kids and i have watched it many times and it sparkles with every viewing. unplug the phone, draw the curtains, pop some popcorn, and spend some time with ralph, rod and the rest of the folks in "twice upon a time".
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Hard to find, hard to let go of
icis20 March 2000
A lush fantasy world with quirky characters and annoying 80's music. This epitomizes the 80's desire to rewrite fairy tales and make fun of how they work. Personally I liked Greensleeves and the other harsher characters. They had some of the more amusing lines.
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One of my most favorite movies ever!
theenigma12914 October 2019
Love the mix of live action/animation style on this movie. Besides all my other favorites, this movie is original, outside of the box and stand on its own with greatness. They should make more movies such as this again. They have, I just need to look in different places. I Give this movie 8/10
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strange interesting animation
SnoopyStyle21 May 2019
Din is a city of 4B Rushers being driven by the Cosmic Clock. Sleep is a struggle between the sweet dreams of Frivoli and the nightmares of Murkworks. Greensleeves and his Figmen bring sweet dreams to the Rushers. Synonamess Botch and his vultures drop nightmare bombs on them. When Greensleeves is kidnapped, two unlikely heroes come to the rescue. Ralph is the All-Purpose Animal who turns into different animals and Mumford is the silent mime. Rod Rescueman is the bumbling idiot who causes more problems than help. Flora Fauna is an aspiring actress and Greensleeves' niece.

This animation reminds me of children's books from the 60's and 70's or outsider cartoons. They are cut-outs with some real black and white photographs as background. The animation style is interesting. It has my attention but the narrative is messy. The improvised dialogue doesn't help and isn't actually funny. Instead of spending time creating gobbledygoop names, they should spend more time giving the story more flow. The two heroes are interesting although if Flora Fauna is to be part of the group. She should be in the trio. I also think the Clock muddles the nightmare story. They're really two different ideas. Overall, this is an intriguing outsider oddity. It's a little strange and well worth a watch. I don't know which version I saw but it seems perfectly fine.
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The uncut version is the one you want.
Fred Mertz28 November 2001
You'll probably never see it, but the uncut version is about 50% better than the one you can buy. Put it another way: once you've seen it in its original form, the current version is only half as good.

It's still wildly creative and sick, a total success on so many levels.
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VERY cool movie!!
valerie-1021 July 1999
quickly became one of my favorite movies of all time. it's hilarious, and SO well done. it's very unknown and that's unfortunate. and george lucas being associated with it, it's odd that it was never even almost as popular as it should be!
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