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Monday, May 16, 2011

Movie Review # 77 Pufnstuf [H.R. Pufnstuf] (1970)

Release: 1970
Director: Holingsworth Morse
John Fenton Murrary
Si Rose
Jack Wild
Billie Hayes
'Mama' Cass Elliott
Roberto Gamonet
Martha Raye
Billy Barty

Rotten Tomatoes: 75% Audience
IMDb: 5.9/10
Netflix: 3.2 Stars

Everyone has movies or TV shows that bring back that inner child in them. Of those warm summer day's sitting inside sipping lemonade and enjoying a little personal time with the parents. H.R. Pufnstuf is one of those for me. It was made eleven years before I was born. But that did not stop me from enjoying a piece of their childhood.

As the characters in the show are love able, fun and adorable. From Witchie Poo to Jimmy to Pufnstuf himself. Each one of them has a unique feel and appeal to the young audience. Even though it was a short run show of only 17 episodes and one made for TV movie. It has lasted the test of time and has even spurned the production of a major motion picture release. Sometime in the future through Sony Entertainment.

Which say's a lot about a television show that was removed off the air after one season. It also say's a ton about the work of Sid and Marty Kroftt. Who where the Jim Henson's of their day. It was this kind of magic that made this show stick with the kids of the day and ultimately with me. When it was passed down by my parents. I still to this day remember the day that I saw my first episode of this show.

It was a cold rainy day and we had gone to Sam's Video and as usual my brother and me went straight to the video games. But father and mother both seemed distracted by a movie. Almost as if their childhood had come back to them. That video was the first four episodes of H.R. Pufnstuf and on this rainy day. I was introduced to this show. Which not only fascinated me it captivated me and made me want to be part of Living Island.

As a child it transports you through music and song to a world that is so unbelievable and goofy that you just want to be part of it. As the games they played and how Witchie Poo who was the Team Rocket of her day. Kept failing but coming back the next day to try and steal the magical flute that Jimmy had. Was fun and enjoyable and just silly enough to stick with me for a life time.

So H.R. Pufnstuf became part of my legacy as a child. I would rent the movie two to three times a month and it always brought a smile to my face. Then one day it was gone. When I asked about it I was told that the tape had been destroyed by another customer. I was devasted and destroyed. As Pufnstuf had become a friend that I grew to love and enjoy. Even though it drove my parents nuts and is probably one of the main reasons I ended up with a VCR in my bedroom.

But Pufnstuf was gone and he would be for years till Nick at Night came on television and I had him back. I was teenager then. But he was still part of me. I had to watch him and I did. Every episode multiple times. But the great Pufnstuf movie avoided me. I knew it existed and I knew I wanted to see it. As both my parents had told me about it. It was no where to be found or seen.

Then in 2007 it was released on DVD and to my unfortunate luck. I never heard about it till yesterday. When I was going through the Netflix cue and their it was. I was shocked so I did my research and found out all I could about it. It was part of a collection of Sid and Marty Kroftt movies. A box set of the best of the best and I couldn't be happier. As I finally get to see what I thought nigh impossible. The Golden Chalice of my long 25 year Odyssey which that is H.R. Pufnstuf.

 The movie starts off with the story of Jimmy and how he came to the Living island. Which was barely touched on in the TV series and mostly told through the opening song of the show. Which was nice and good as we see that Jimmy was hated and pretty much despised in his school. It is also shows how much society hasn't changed. As one of the songs sung in the movie by 'Mama' Cass Elliott of the Mama's and the Papa's proved.

The song was about being different and how it is okay to be different. It doesn't matter if you are lonely or hurt. But that you live you life and be you. That was true then and is even more true today. This song is possibly one of  Cass Elliott's best songs ever and one that should be put out for the youth of today. As it's message is spot on and worth being heard.

Now this is also where the movie differs from the TV series. Where the TV series focused on the adventures of Pufnstuf and Jimmy mostly. The movie focused on Witchie Poo and her vying for the Witch of the Year crown and why she wanted Freddy the Magic Flute to start with. Which is not only refreshing it is eye opening as Witchie Poo was not only love able before she became endearing and even more love able.

As you see the real Witchie Poo and not the rambling I am going to get you and your magic flute. That was shown so many times in the series. But the I am afraid of Boss Witch who is a a female Hitler complete with a red and black Skull and Crossbone swastica and German mouse liege. Only in the 70's would this be Kosher. Today it wouldn't fly and honestly I wish we where not so prudish in the states.

As this movie could not be shown on television today. With questionable subject matter like the German mouse or even the all the chain smoking that goes on with certain characters in the movie. Which is extremely sad. As this show did not make me want to smoke or anything. It made me want to get out and adventure unlike some modern shows like Yu-Gi-Oh that preach lets sit down and play games.

This one taught you to go out explore get dirty and have fun outside. But keep your friends close and enjoy them and all their fallacies and faults. Sadly it is just the sign of the times. As much as I love this movie and TV series. I know that some prude out there that loved this as child. Has lost what made this special to them.

As they say that this movie is unsuitable for children as Jack Dresses up as a fairy/angel to free his friends. That or the smoking or the German mouse are insensitive and promotes bad habits. Honestly if you are reading this much into a show made for 7 year olds then you should reconsider your life. Why not grown down and learn to be a kid again.

Life is to short to be so petty and hurtful to your children and others children. Maybe it is time for you to find your way to the magic boat that talks and take your ride to the Island of the Living. Then maybe we can talk once you see how awesome and cool Pufnstuf and and friends are.

My Rating 4.5/5 Stars

I won't link the movie trailers or anything. Here is the link to Kroftt Pictures on Youtube so you can watch and enjoy three of the best episodes.

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