The Phantom Tollbooth | Chicago Reader

The Phantom Tollbooth

Revered Looney Tunes animator Chuck Jones made his only theatrical feature for MGM in 1969, and though it grows tedious long before the end, the fault lies not with the spirited artwork but with the episodic script, adapted from the children's book by Norton Juster. A live-action frame features Butch Patrick (of The Munsters) as a bored latchkey kid who finds a magical tollbooth in his bedroom; after driving through it in his toy car, he becomes a cartoon and arrives in a 2-D fantasyland whose rival cities are the verbal Dictionopolis and the numerical Digitopolis. As in the Road Runner cartoons, Jones's vision is most vivid in his crazed pastel landscapes, with their warped towers, clawing rock formations, and looping ribbons of highway. David Monahan and Abe Levitow codirected, and Mel Blanc supplies some of the voices. G, 90 min.

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