Beanstalk (1994)

Rating:

USA. 1994.

Crew

Director/Screenplay – Michael Paul Davis, Producers – Charles Band & Debra Dion, Photography – Adolfo Bartoli, Music – Kevin Bassinson, Songs – Michael Bishop, Visual Effects – David Allen, Visual Effects Supervisor – Joseph Grossberg, Digital Effects Supervisor – Paul Gentry, Miniature City Design – John Chichester, Puppet Effects – Mark Rappaport, Makeup Effects – AlchemyFX (Supervisor – Michael S. Deak), Production Design – Milo. Production Company – Moonbeam Entertainment

Cast

J.D. Daniels (Jack Taylor), Margot Kidder (Dr Kate Winston), Stuart Pankin (The Giant), Patrick Renna (Danny Bunt), Richard Moll (Richard Leech), Amy Stock-Poynton (Rebecca Taylor)


Plot

Kate Winston, a zoologist who specialises in discovering the basis of myths, digs up several giant bean pods. These accidentally fall into the hands of young Jack Taylor. He plants the beans in the backyard whereupon they sprout a giant-size beanstalk. Pursued up the beanstalk by a school bully, Jack enters the clouds where a race of giants lives.


With the sole exception of the delightful Dragonworld (1994) and the quite surreal Magic in the Mirror (1996), almost all of Albert and Charles Band’s line of low-budget productions marketed under the Moonbeam video label for children have been pitiful. This, a modernising of the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk, is one of the better – and even then it only rises to a level of bare mediocrity. It is helped immeasurably by not having to depend on Mark Rappaport’s abysmal puppet effects to carry the fantasy, unlike most Moonbeam films, most notably Prehysteria! (1993) and sequels.

The film’s major plus is a sense of humour, which comes near to redeeming the film. The young hero manages to get the bully pinned down and threatens to spit on him in a parody of Clint Eastwood’s famous monologue in Dirty Harry (1971): “I know what you’re thinking – is he really going to spit on me? Or to tell the truth in all this excitement my mouth might have dried up …” There are some amusing takes on contemporary culture from the point-of-view of the Giants – the Giant finding a newspaper headline: “Mets lose to Giants? Alriiiiiight.” Or upon seeing Mount Rushmore: “They’ve captured some of our people and turned them into stone!” And then there are the scenes with the giants debating whether Little People are real, which becomes an amusing parody of current obsession with paranormal phenomena – a photo of a plane is thought to be a UFO; a photo of an astronaut in a spacesuit is thought to be a mythical creature with one eye; and naturally the government is accused of covering the truth about Little People up.

In some poor makeup, Stuart Pankin badly overplays the part of the giant. Margot Kidder plays with some amusement on screen, giving the part of the loopey scientist far more than it deserves.



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