Milo is bored at school, at home, everywhere. Until a magical and mysterious package arrives.
Rated G. Fans of the book will find plenty to be disappointed in or angry about. The dense wordplay may leave younger children scratching their heads.
Milo never knew words could be so confusing
Let’s get one thing out of the way: no film adaptation could ever satisfy fans of the original novel,* beloved by book nerds and GATE kids for fifty years. Puns won’t translate, favorite scenes and jokes will be omitted. But this little-known version by Chuck Jones—made between How The Grinch Stole Christmas! and The Cricket in Times Square—has its own devotees. Unfortunate choices include removing Tock’s personality and transforming the Humbug from booming to fey. And unlike the book, the film foregrounds the plot, the quest to restore harmony between the warring kingdoms of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. But there’s still plenty of fun with words and numbers to be had along the way. There are jaunty (if forgettable) songs, a brassy score by space-age pop composer Dean Elliott, and some terrific work by background layout artist Maurice Noble. The film creates an opportunity to talk with your kids about the book, or about 1960s cartoon voice talent. (Mel Blanc! Daws Butler! June Foray!) With Hans Conreid (The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T) as the voices of both King Azaz and the Mathemagician. —
*In this telling the first character Milo meets is Officer Shrift, which I read as Jones’ acknowledgement of how much he’s left out.