Two unemployed men are given a job babysitting two children while their sister and her fiance are on a date. In an effort to put the kids to sleep, the story "Jack and the Beanstalk" is read to them. Only, this version of the story isn't quite like other versions and involves a poor young man and an unscrupulous butcher trying to save a prince and princess from a giant.
Movie Review: Jack and the Beanstalk (1952)
A review of the 1952 comedy starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
A Cute Family Comedy
I originally saw this movie about 5 years ago, the day after my youngest daughter was born. While she and my wife were at the hospital, her older sister and I had a father/daughter movie night and, since I wanted to introduce her to Abbott and Costello, I picked out this movie. We both loved it.
The thing I really like about this movie is the way it takes just enough liberties with the classic Jack and the Beanstalk story to keep things interesting and not quite as predictable as someone might expect it to be. This is particularly true when it comes to Abbott's character, Mr. Dinklepuss, who is dishonest enough throughout the story to be a major wild card. I wasn't sure if he was going to be a help or if, at some point, he was going to do something to make things much worse than they already were.
The love story between the prince and princess (Alexander and Cogan) was also an interesting twist on the story. This part was somewhat predictable. But, it did give the film a pleasant change of pace in between the scenes with Abbott and Costello (though, personally, I think she should have ended up with Costello's character, Jack).
For his part, I did think Baer made an excellent giant. His lines were somewhat limited at times but he definitely looked the part and was just menacing enough to make me think twice about wanting to meet him in a dark alley.
I did think the various song and dance numbers were a little tedious at times. This includes the prince's decision to serenade the princess in the giant's garden. My daughter, who usually likes musical numbers like that, did share my opinion when she first watched this with me.
Also, I thought that talking harp in this movie was a little on the creepy side for a family film. I'm actually a little surprised it didn't give my daughter nightmares because I know it was a character I wasn't a big fan of. Fortunately, however, it had a very limited number of scenes.
This is a surprisingly good family movie with a good mix of comedy and plenty of hilarious and unexpected twists. I do recommend taking the time to watch it with your kids if you get a chance.
My Grade: A
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