Appellate Judge James A. Stewart dreams of giant coffee mugs.
"The kid's a kid who's got no point."
For a brief moment before you switch the channel on Saturday morning, you may glimpse a children's show with a point—and long for a pointless rerun of Pebbles & Bamm Bamm. Not all ancient ('70s) children's fare was pointless, though. Harry Nilsson put a lot of points into The Point, a TV movie made for ABC in 1971. Singer-songwriter Nilsson ("One (Is The Loneliest Number)") sang the songs, including "Me and My Arrow," himself, naturally. As a bonus, Nilsson's buddy Ringo Starr, who was involved in some rock group called the Bumblebees or something, narrates. As a DVD bonus, The Point: Definitive Collector's Edition adds some interviews.
Facts of the Case
A son wants to watch his favorite TV show, the one with the "monsters," but his father (Ringo Starr, Help!) wants to read the youngster a story…
In the Pointed Village, there's a point to all things, including the people's heads. Not quite, though. One kid, Oblio (Mike Lookinland, The Brady Bunch), is born with one of those freakish round heads, which are outlawed. Oblio gets away with wearing a cap, though, until he makes the mistake of challenging the Count's son to a game of triangle toss. With some ingenuity (and help from his dog Arrow), Oblio wins—and ends up being sent away to the Pointless Forest through the machinations of the evil Count.
Will Oblio find his way back to the Pointed Village? Will the Count be defeated? Will the son survive a week without knowing how the Doctor and Jo escaped the Autons because his father had to read him a book?
Yes, The Point has a point—several, in fact, as it sends Oblio into the Pointless Forest to learn to think for himself. He meets a three-headed man, who has a lot of points up there and always seems to be pointing somewhere on top of it, whose comments turn out to be rather pointless. At the same time, as he talks to the others he meets—including the Rock Man, who advises him that "You don't have to have a point to have a point"—Oblio takes in a lot of points and points of view. The framing story—in which the son imagines that the book is coming to life on his bedroom TV—makes the point that you should read to your kids.
It also has a style that animator Fred Wolf calls "subversive." It's at least Mad-level subversiveness, with characters like a King who really doesn't seem to like laws much (in a rooting-for-the-underdog way, not a tyrant way). After all, as he says, "Without the law, there would be no lawyers…" You might also glimpse parodic references to Dr. Seuss and Donald Duck. There's some psychedelic imagery, too—such as when Oblio and Arrow, overwhelmed by their situation, perch on the rim of a giant teacup—in the montages that run under Nilsson's songs.
The overall animation looks simple, but it also looks like a storybook with motion. It's a bit on the strange side, but it's effective. The picture has some flaws—flecks and lines, a little grain—but no serious problems. Segments explaining the genesis and reception of The Point are the main extras.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Yes, the imagery can be weird…the weirdest being a whale decomposing before viewers' eyes. It's not graphic, but I can see where it might freak a few kids out…and parents…and grandparents.
IMDb says The Point had other fathers narrating at other points in its existence, including Dustin Hoffman and Alan Thicke. I'm not sure what the point of changing the voice was, but it would have been nice to hear the alternate voice tracks as an extra.
I gather from the extras that The Point lives on somewhere today, but as a school musical. It's harmless and thoughtful, but I'd suspect it plays best if your kids have gotten to that subversive age (somewhere around junior high, give or take a couple of years, as I recall).
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