Babes in Toyland (TV Movie 1986) Poster

(1986 TV Movie)

User Reviews

Review this title
43 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Endearing and Fun
lsprin210 May 2006
I'm awfully surprised that this movie has received such low ratings! I never saw the original "Babes in Toyland," so I can't say one way or the other whether this film is guilty of desecrating some legacy, as suggested by other comments. I first saw the movie when I was about 4 years old, and I loved every minute of it. I thought that Troller was horrifically frightening, that Barnaby was the very embodiment of evil, and that Keanu Reeves was the most handsome and heroic protagonist in television history. I was literally on the edge of my brightly-colored plastic seat as Jack Nimble Jr. was hauled to jail by the giant teddy bear police, and was thoroughly emotionally invested in Drew Barrymore's journey to believe in Santa and Christmas and whatever. Fifteen years later, I still love the movie! Yes, it's ridiculously campy and poorly acted, but that's what makes "Babes in Toyland" so enjoyable. It isn't supposed to be serious, and it wasn't created to be some enduring theatrical masterpiece. It's a made-for-TV movie featuring the same guy who starred in the "Bill and Ted" films. I got the video in a McDonald's Happy Meal. What did you expect? "Babes in Toyland" still brings back fond memories, mostly because I remember the strong emotions that the movie evoked for me as a little girl. It makes the movie even more hilarious to watch now. If you want to see a cinematic work of art, why are you watching a low-budget TV movie from 1986? If you want a silly, fun, and entertaining holiday movie, by all means, watch on.
37 out of 45 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Original vs the VHS/DVD's
angecardoza9 November 2010
I have always loved this movie however why did they decide to take a made for TV movie and edit it? The original had so many songs in it and I loved those. Most of the time you edit to make it into time frame on TV...not cut to put on video after been on TV...

Does anyone else remember the original, the song between Jack and Mary or Lisa singing before going in to the Forrest?

I think this needs to be re-released in its original form!

We bought the VHS a while back and saw the edits, I decided to watch on Netflix online and there has been other times when it just seems that something is missing, a skip or something so you know there is stuff missing.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
So So Bad it is good...
av-3531 December 2006
I cannot believe I have never heard or seen this movie. I was getting married in 1986 and I guess this just passed me by! Tonight for the first time, I am watching this movie on TV with my nine year old. He loves it! I on the other hand am feigning interest while I'm amazed and entertained by the bad acting, tacky costumes cheap wooden toys and really bad sets!

My 9 year old LOVES the whole thing. The weird little beat up cars and leftover stuff they must of used from a closed amusement park. This looks like a episode of Puff N Stuff on a lower budget. I can certainly see how all the people who truly love this movie must of loved it when it first came out. Lets just say, if I didn't have a 9 year old, I would of clicked right by. :)
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
WHAT?!?! Bad movie this SO NOT is!
Binkyboo137 November 2005
I don't know how people can say that this is a terrible movie. Although I cannot say this is a the greatest movie, it's still a fun, sweet, Christmas family movie for all. Sure it's cheezy and a little bit wizard of oz-ish, but who care. It's a low budget made for TV movie, so you shouldn't be expecting the best sets and special effects. Can't a movie just be fun anymore. Do we always have to think about it too much. Just watch the movie and enjoy the Christmas togetherness and fun nursery rhymes from your childhood. Drew Barrymore, Keanu Reeves, and Pat Morita, as well as the rest of the cast, do a great job. I feel like going to CINCINNATI now. Watch this movie! I dare you.
15 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Enjoyable in its context as a TV Christmas movie!
Stella_Maris14 December 2005
First off, this is a TV Christmas movie. Most of us realize that at Christmas, tons of silly TV movies for the season come out. So, if you watch it with higher expectations, you probably would be disappointed. Having said that, if you like to watch fun, silly Christmas movies, then there's a better chance that this is a movie for you! There's some romance, some conflict, singing, and a lot of toys! This makes it a good choice to watch with the family...this is one of our favorite ridiculous Christmas movies to watch. So, to anyone else out there whose family enjoys watching the silly Christmas movies, consider checking this one out!
10 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Christmas is the time for sugary sweetness
Tynne18 January 2001
I enjoyed this movie as a child and I enjoy watching it with my children. I know it's not a cinematic achievement, it did not win awards and will not down in history as one of Christmas's most cherished movies. But there's a quality about it that is wonderful. The simplistic scenery is attractive in its own way. The acting was not amazing but let's remember a few things - it was a made for TV movie in the 80's, and honestly there were very few decent films that came out of the 80's anway. For those who wish to over-analyse this film, I suggest you remember one thing - it's a children's movie, it was not meant to be broken down and analysed, it was meant to be simply enjoyed. I would highly recommend this movie for the enjoyment of viewers with young families. After all, Christmas is the time to enjoy sugary sweetness.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Great Childhood Memories
dourpussdora21 September 2014
I LOVED this film when I was little and hadn't seen it in years and made my husband watch it recently lol.

Needless to say he lasted 10 minutes but for me it brought back so many happy memories as I watched this film over and over when i was younger. I remember it being a little scary and also I was desperate to be Lisa!! (Drew Barrymores character).

Yes this had really bad acting etc but it is also very endearing and has some great moments in it.

I was also surprised I remembered the words to all the songs (so bad they were good lol). Give this film a go especially if you have kids :-)
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
It has its moments...
TheLittleSongbird1 March 2014
This version of Babes in Toyland is not quite as bad as it has been cited to be, but it is not really a good film(personal opinion of course, admittedly I did actually like it somewhat as a child) and it is easy to see why it was panned. Babes in Toyland is not without its moments. March of the Toys is actually a good song and deserved a better film or a better version of Babes in Toyland, the song is also nicely staged if not as memorably and inventively as in the Disney film(a decent film if one of the lesser Disney live-action musicals). The incidental score is appropriately whimsical too. Richard Mulligan is a lot of fun as the villain Barnaby, he has great comic timing(but it has been put to better use elsewhere) and he is a convincing threat too. Pat Morita is warm and kindly as the toymaker, Gooey Gress is adorable and the one-eyed bird is well done and frightening. The songs on the whole are not great with some very gooey lyrics, most of them are forgettable and the Cincinnatti song is like nails on a blackboard. Most of the production values look as though they've been done on the cheap too, that's even for a television film, the sets on the most part are garish and of theme park or re-used quality. The costumes are outrageous and like stuffed animals, with Barnaby's black feathery costume making him look like a giant crow. The special effects were clever in the Disney film, here they were sub-par especially the race cars.

The acting apart from Mulligan and Morita doesn't work. Eileen Brennan does a decent job with what she has, the problem is that she doesn't have much to do, so no matter how much she puts into it it wasn't worth the bother if the film wasn't going to use her talents well. Drew Barrymore, a promising child actress and has done a lot of great stuff(Grey Gardens and Ever After: A Cinderella Story), has some moments of cute charm but others where she was too syrupy, so it was more an uneven performance than a bad one. Keanu Reeves in an early role is handsome but very wooden with line delivery that is suggestive of him reading from a cue card. The script is uninspired, and the story- admittedly one of the weaker points of the Disney film and the operetta- has very little charm or wonder, partly because of the mix of real life and Toyland(and the whole only a dream premise), themes that seem rather mean-spirited for a fantasy/holiday film and also the unimaginatively staged musical numbers. It also comes across as far too stagy in a theatrical way, is at times ploddingly paced and can be overly cutesy and corny. Clive Donner's direction throughout is unimaginative and bland, it's sad to see a director who did such a great job with one of the best versions of A Christmas Carol two years previously directs with seemingly little interest or enthusiasm. Babes in Toyland has its moments(one really good song and two good performances especially) and has some curiosity value for Barrymore and Reeves early in their careers but overall it doesn't have a whole lot going for it. Stick with the Laurel/Hardy and Disney films instead. 4/10 Bethany Cox
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Truly pathetic
critic-224 July 1999
This third film version of Victor Herbert's beloved operetta is an illuminating example of the lengths TV executives will go to in manhandling a beloved work, just for the sake of manufacturing "family entertainment", and with no regard at all for the integrity of the work. To be fair,none of the three film versions have followed the 1903 operetta as closely as, say, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical films have followed their stage originals, and the original Glen MacDonough lyrics, full of "thee"s and "thou"s, are outdated even by the standards of the 1940's. But even in Laurel and Hardy's old version, one could still see respect for the material.Laurel and Hardy, of course, were hilariously allowed to do whatever they wanted, but in that version, five of the Victor Herbert songs, with their original lyrics, were kept in, and performed beautifully, and the fairy-tale atmosphere was magnificently retained. Disney's 1961 version rewrote all the lyrics and changed some of the tempos in the songs (including, most sacrilegously, "Toyland", changed from a slow ballad to a happy, upbeat march). However, it still featured a convincing enough fantasy atmosphere,and what were then state-of-the art effects for the toy soldiers (set to a nearly full-length and beautifully played "March of the Toys"), as well as more of Herbert's music than was included in the L&H version, so it was good enough.

But this third version is truly, truly amazing in its awfulness. It has no air of fantasy or magic whatsoever. It looks as if it had been filmed in a cheap theme park for very young children, rather than in a dazzling fantasy setting. The toy soldiers are simply men in costumes,not digitally animated,or stop-motion animated (as was done in the previous two versions). The acting is on the level of a kiddie school play, with Drew Barrymore at her most syrupy sweet. The Toyland story has been incongruously combined with a modern 1986 setting and turned into a dream (they don't even try to follow the original 1903 plot,but that really doesn't matter---the 1903 story was lousy to begin with).

But worst of all of the decisions, the one which belongs in the Hall of Infamy, is the decision to retain only the two best-known songs from the original score ("Toyland",and "March of the Toys") and replace them with new songs by Leslie Bricusse! This is the man who murdered the 1967 "Doctor Dolittle" and the 1969 "Goodbye,Mr. Chips" by providing them with perhaps the two worst scores written for a 1960's film musical. His songs (NOT the ones he wrote with his former partner,the late Anthony Newley) have become synonymous with bad movie musicals. The results in this film are truly excruciating-especially in comparison with the Victor Herbert-Glen MacDonough original score.

See this only if you're either curious or a movie-musical masochist.
21 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
God Awful
leasley21 December 2003
I had the displeasure of watching this movie(becasue nothing else was on tv,on a Saturday) for the first time just days before Christmas last year.I couldn't believe how lame it was.Even for a children's movie.You know its bad when even kids watching the movie with you comment on how stupid it is.Was this suppose to be a comedy?The jokes kept coming from the mouths of viewers in my living room all thru out the viewing.
8 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A dismal flop
Prexy12 December 1998
Even Victor Herbert's music can't save this dismal "Wizard of Oz" wannabe. The script is uninspired, the sets and costumes are pedestrian, the direction is almost nonexistent, and the performances never rise above the junior high school drama club level. Drew Barrymore, Pat Morita, Keanu Reeves, et al seem embarrassed to be part of this stinker--as well they should be.
8 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A classic
Pheebs14875 December 2001
I love this movie, it rocks, it rules. Keanu Reeves, Drew Barrymore, and Pat Morita are all in it. They are fantastic in their roles. I don't know where people get off saying this is a bad movie, because it isn't. Although it mildly resembles The Wizard of Oz, and Drew Barrymore looks like a total geekette, it is still fantastic. Barnaby is the best, even though he is evil. The story is timeless, the actors are or will be considered movie greats and I hope I'm not the only one who will remember this fantastic piece of film history.
12 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not Suitable for Anyone Over 10
gbheron15 March 1999
Not having had small kids around my house for a few years I can't say how they would react to this little made-for-TV movie. But I can say how my high school son, my spouse, and I reacted. The teenager walked out before the credits finished and my wife was asleep before Drew Barrymore reached Toyland. I just sat benumbed thinking that something, somewhere would be entertaining. No such luck.

Why'd I watch it? I found it laying around the house, it must of been stuck in the back of a closet for 13 years, and decided to give it a viewing before passing it on to charity.

It's bad medicine for anyone over the age of 10. Real bad.
7 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
sign_of_the_angel9 August 2000
Whenever someone gives you, the parent of a child under 10, a video, check to make sure that it isn't this movie. If someone does give you "Babes in Toyland", there are only a few explanations:

1. They meant to give you another version of it--there are several, and all of them are better than this one.

2. They meant to give you another movie altogether and accidentally picked this one up.

3. It made its own way into a batch of tapes to be delivered, so it's not their fault.

4. They were misinformed about its quality.

5. They secretly hate your guts and want to torture you.

Conversely, if you know some parents of small children whose guts you hate, just give them a copy of this movie. You'll be giving your feelings towards them away, but they'll be stuck watching this movie for years on end.

Children love this movie. They LOVE this movie. But it's so very, very bad that after just one or two viewings you will have fantasies of tracking down the cast and crew and demanding compensation, at which they will get down on their knees and beg your forgiveness for their involvement in this hideous torture.

It really is that bad. The story is ludicrous. The "music" is excruciating (especially the "Cincinnati" song). The writing is beyond awful. The direction isn't even imaginatively bad (anyone could do as well, probably better). The costumes and sets are so bad they aren't even funny: you can see the zippers in the bear costumes--hilarious, no?

With all of this working against them, I almost feel sorry for the actors. Sure, they're bad, but there was no way they could be any good at all in this movie. You alternate between pity for them and anger at them for their participation in it. I just hope they needed the money or the credit or something.

And it lasts FOREVER. Most kids' movies only last an hour or so; this one goes on and on and on and on and on....

The fanatical devotion that it inspires in children is frightening. Kids have no taste; this is the proof. To be avoided at all costs.
7 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Stale Christmas Cookies.
johnstonjames23 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
How awful. I love the Victor Herbert operetta and all the Babes in Toyland movies, but this one is horrible.

It is not so bad it is good. They ruined the whole thing. It felt like stale Christmas cookies or icky holiday candy way past it's expiration date. if you like this movie you know nothing about the origins of the story. even the uninspired Charles Nelson Riley version has more to offer than this cheap slapped- together rush job. It looks like it was put together with scotch tape and paper and filmed in a trailer park and those stupid go-carts look like they came from a supermarket carnival.

Instead of feeling Christmas cheer when I watched this, I just got depressed and wanted to kill somebody. I like Reeves and Barrymore as actors, but after this it took me a long time to be able to handle watching them again. This film should only be viewed by the terminally dull and unimaginative. Those people will probably like it.

All the versions of 'Toyland' can be a little cheesy, but they're fun. This ain't cheese it's poison. Even Ed wood would know better than to attempt this eye-sore of a movie. Yuk! I did'nt know production design could be so ugly, and that song, it gives Cincinnati a bad name.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
What a mess!
DesertHedgehog25 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I'm reviewing this movie based on its own merits. I'm not comparing it to any older productions.

The sets are hideous. Imagine the most boring and spartan buildings you can picture painted various shades of pink and purple, and you've got Toyland. Even the giant shoe the old woman used to live in manages to be boring.

The characters (most of whom are flat and dull) seem to spend most of their time running around and getting nothing of value done. For example, Jack gets thrown into jail, gets broken out of jail, and promptly gets himself trapped by the villain. Ample screen time is spent showing the characters running around town in kiddie cars instead of advancing the plot.

The movie hands out promises like it's Christmas and breaks every one of them. For example, George Porgie says that Barnaby occasionally rolls his bowling-ball-shaped house into town. You'd expect that to be foreshadowing for the film's climax, right? Nope, it never happens. Lisa attempts to play matchmaker between Barnaby and Mrs. Hubbard, something you'd expect to pay off SOMEHOW by the end of the film. It doesn't, unless you count a cheap joke to be a payoff. The Dark Forest is mentioned several times, leading you to think the characters might end up having to go into it, but in fact, they never leave town. The Toymaker hints that Barnaby could be redeemed... but in the end, he just gets banished to the forest.

A particularly ridiculous aspect was how Lisa, who frequently complains that she's "not a child," must learn to use her imagination again and "believe." However, up until the end of the film there is no real indication that Lisa isn't imaginative; whenever she insists that she's no longer a child she is clearly doing so because she does not want to be perceived as incompetent or incapable based on the fact that she's 11. Bucking against ageism and refusing to use one's imagination are not the same thing, which this film unfortunately implies.

As far as charming holiday specials go, this movie is not one of them.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A nice family-oriented fare.
OllieSuave-0072 November 2016
I caught this movie on TV when I was a teen during the Christmas season, and remembered being quite entertained with all the whimsical scenes and enchanted cast of characters. Drew Barrymore stars as 11-year-old Lisa Piper, who is too busy taking care of her siblings and mother. As a source of escape, she travels to Toyland in Wizard of Oz-like fashion during a Christmas blizzard and arrives just in time for a wedding. A young Keanu Reeves and Clue/Private Benjamin actress Eileen Brennan also stars.

Nice visual effects and simple plot. Not the most exciting movie, though, but still an innocent, family-friendly film that is nice to watch over the holidays.

Grade B-
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A horrible children's movie
lonedragon142229 July 2006
I was around six when I first saw this movie with my best friend and we both almost had heart attacks, especially toward the end. It's definitely not suitable for really young children, and Eileen Brennan made a huge mistake tying her name to it. She's a fabulous actress otherwise.

The whole thing is nonsensical, which is the point, except that as a six year old child, I knew the whole thing was stupid. I can't recall ever having seen a children's movie this bad.

To sum up, what I distinctly remember from the movie is that it gave me a fear of dark places for the longest time, and a hatred for toys.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
My toddler (and I) love this!
valentinekissesbeauty17 September 2019
Maybe I'm a bit biased, since this movie is from own childhood (my toddler now loves it), but I truly enjoy this movie. It always makes me hungry for cookies, too! My almost 2 year old has probably seen this movie 100 times already and he is never tired of it. Sure, it may not have the best costumes or even acting, but it is a great movie for children. For the time (1986) it was well done. Especially foe its intended audience (children). I personally love it!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Babes in Toyland is Antifa
thesanremo23 December 2018
Weird retelling of Wizard of Oz that aged surprisingly well. Worth watching.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Laughably horrible!
liv-5508622 December 2018
This movie is so bad I actually created an account just so I could write a review.The acting is so horrible I honestly had a hard time following the story line most of the movie, seriously cringe worthy. Granted the movie was produced in the 80's but that's no excuse for the complete lack of imagination, super cheesy costumes/props and horrendous acting. I've been more entertained at middle school programs.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
You have to be a little kid! Really little.
AnnieLola1 January 2016
That's my adult vote-- 1 for Awful. But if I were 3 or 4 or even 5 years old I'll bet I'd consider this weird misfire thrilling entertainment, once it got to Toyland. For those who like Barney the purple dinosaur, it could be just the thing...

I'm glad that there are viewers who find it truly watchable; after all, it took some effort to put it together, especially with such an obvious lack of adequate budget. TV movies have come a long way since '86, though. The 80s really inflicted some pretty bad music on us and this is no exception, with a number of really painful new songs, and the beloved 1903 'Toyland' title song's melody thrown in here and there as incidental music. Thankfully, the stirring "March of the Toys" is included during the final battle scene.

Even without comparison to the delightful (if considerably altered from the stage version) 1934 Laurel and Hardy outing, the less charming but still enjoyable 1961 Disney effort, or the quaint 1954 live television production (preserved on kinescope), this 'Toyland' is pretty feeble stuff. Despite being filmed in Bavaria, a place chock-a-block with fairytale villages and wonderful castles, the Toyland set looks like some corner of a minor suburban theme park, complete with rubber- tired miniature train and little cars obviously taken from a racetrack ride. The rather modern buildings appear to have been freshly repainted for the occasion.

Barnaby's nasty trolls are actually icky enough to be effective as a menace, though at about 10 to 12 count they're too few to be much of an army. For the most part the cheesy creature costumes, which would be quite acceptable in person, on screen require a level of willing-suspension-of-disbelief not granted to many of us. Plus, Richard Mulligan is seriously miscast as villain Barnaby, though Pat Morita as the Toymaster is (predictably) one of the bright spots-- despite being saddled with having to sing some of that limp new score.

Well, I saw 86's "Toyland" listed and tuned in out of curiosity. Thought I'd comment.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
holy crap
sc_reaper20 August 2002
I remember that dreadful moment...i was 10 and my parents flopped me down on the couch and threw that cheap excuse of a movie in the vcr. from the very beginning to the very end i could not stand what my eyes were seeing. this has got to be one of the most horrible movies i have EVER seen EVER.if keanu reeves gave out at least 1/10 of his work that he did in the matrix the movie would be great. but you know what? its not great. this movie sucks. from the songs that make your ears bleed to the horrible acting to the fat guy that stuffs more cookies in hie hat than his stomach, this movie is garbage. it deserves a -10 and nothing more. STAY AWAY!!!!!!
3 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Is this For Real?
ADFman19 December 2003
WOW! What a terrible movie, but with the "great stars" it has in it does nothing to help this movie. this is about the funniest christmas movie ive seen recently, its the funniest thing ever, drew and keanu before they hit it big. its nice to see that everyone has at least one horrible movie. A highlight for me was the songs that they sing. there isnt anything else to make this movie any good besides the songs. a note to all dont see this movie unless you want a night of laughter, at just about every part of this movie
3 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
so cute!
jenni53623 February 2005
While some people might say that this movie is not worth seeing, I, for one, disagree. I am 23 years old and still love to watch this movie every now and then. Forget the fact that it is one of the first movies that you can see Drew Barrymore in or that an actor like Keanu Reeves became the star he is, and just focus on the story. For any of you who have seen the original (with Annette Funicello) you shouldn't compare the two because they are completely different. Both, however, have fantastical themes put to song. The songs are cute and enthusiastic. I'm no movie critic (although I rarely agree with critics views on movies) but I feel that this movie is worth seeing at least once to form your own opinion on it. Keep your mind open and your heart light and you should enjoy this movie. Happy viewing!
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed