Golden Child [1986]

The award-winning HBO series Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child provides updated cartoon versions of the classics that will hold your kids' attention without banging them on the head with themes. Four half-hour tales are included, each with a bevy of well-known vocal talent. A very sweet version of Pinocchio features a star-studded voice cast, including Will Smith, Chris Rock, Charles S. Dutton, and Della Reese. Although this may make the take sound strictly African American, the spin is decidedly multicultural. Geppetto becomes "George" and Pinocchio, being "chips of pine and oak off the old block" is called "Pinoak." The big spin is on Pinocchio's insect friend, who in this version is a termite named "Woody," played with a rascally style well suited to Chris Rock. For Mother Goose Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Smits, and Denzel Washington lend voice as the merriment takes place in Mother Gooseberg Land, where Old King Cole reigns over the likes of Little Miss Muffet, Georgie Porgie, and the rest of the gang who take their poetic direction from the grand dame of rhyme herself, Mother Gooseberg. Creativity oozes from this rollicking rhyme fest, an animated retelling of some well-loved classic nursery rhymes. A simple chore of chopping trees turns into a life lesson for a trio of peasant brothers in this fresh take on The Golden Goose. Drexel, Axel, and Simpleton are three strapping boys who live with their father and mother in a small kingdom. When father sends the older sons to clear the forest, they encounter a wizard--dressed as a beggar--who asks them for some food. Woven throughout this simple tale are subtle messages of the benefits of faith and kindness in everyday living, best understood by children ages 4 and older. The seductive music that the Pied Piper played to woo the children of Hamelin was jazz. At least, that's the take in retelling as old tales mix with new world vision. Here, the selfish King of Hamelin (Samuel L. Jackson) loves to dismiss all politics so he can count his money. Unfortunately, the rat problem becomes so severe that plans must be put into action. When a smooth, jazz-playing stranger (Wesley Snipes) wanders into town proclaiming that he can address the problem, the city council is ready to give him riches.

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