25 Favorite Films: Twice Upon a Time (1983)

For those of you who clicked on this article and know exactly what this is I congratulate you. For the rest, and majority I assume, who have no idea what the hell Twice Upon a Time is I should explain.

When I was a kid living in Philadelphia one of the biggest joys was getting free previews of premium channels. As a lazy kid I would just sit in my living room and watch endless movies. One that always popped up (this was before you kids today getting spoiled by actual content from these channels) was a 1983 animated film called Twice Upon a Time. It is the kind of film that, while made solely by adults, felt like it was conceived by a child with limitless imagination. Everything about this world the movie takes place was full of bright colors and interesting creatures. No matter when this movie came on I would stay glued to my TV and just be amazed by what was on the screen.

Now when I look back at this film I am amazed at the freedom it had. There is so much improv going on with this picture that I honestly don’t think there is a script. If you are big on the comedy scene this is the kind of film that can showcase how to hone your craft. It certainly helps that this film got some of the best local, NYC based actors to voice this diverse cast. You know you have one hell of a cartoon when you have characters like a transforming cat, a mute protagonist (who is a dead ringer for Charlie Chaplin….for the kids), and a superhero named Rod Rescueman.

Speaking of Rod, here’s a scene that perfect encapsulate my love of this film:

When I was a kid I thought this whole sequence was hilarious and even today I love it but for different reasons. You can EASILY tell these two actors are just making this up on the fly. You don’t get lines like ‘it is notarized and it’s legal sized’ or ‘Well I couldn’t rescue myself, that doesn’t count.’ with a bunch of writers. These guys were just workshopping as they were going on and you get so many gems like that. Also, I particularly love the detail you notice in the film. Again, with the scene above, I like how the Fairy Godmother’s office constantly shakes because it is dangling from a balloon. Or how Rod Rescueman’s “theme” plays every time he flies into frame. Considering this is nothing but paper animation, in a style of stop-motion BEFORE that was a thing, it is amazing what these people were able to do.

The only problem with talking about a movie like this is that it is incredibly hard to find. It’s a cult movie and because of that the release of it is scarce. If you go on Amazon or eBay you may find a VHS copy if you are lucky. But because of legal battles and squabbles with the creators a DVD release seems unlikely (despite the rumors we get every year). YouTube seems to be the only mecca where you can find the full movie but even now it seems to disappear into the ether. If you ever find yourself at a store and see this lying around it is an immediate pick up in my mind. It might be over thirty years old but god damn it a child can still find joy out of this. Despite the truly awful (or awesome?) 80s soundtrack. I leave you with the opening titles of this without comment:

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