Sometimes a movie comes along and it makes you just ask yourself why? The 1999 animated movie version of The King & I is one such movie. It was made by Warner’s Brother in associated with Morgan Creek, Nest (our friends from The Swan Princess) and my old nemesis Rankin/Bass. This movie is based or rather somewhat based on the Roger Hammerstein musical The king and I which in turn was based on a novel by Margaret Landon called Anna and the King which was in turn was based off of Anna Leonowens’ memoirs which were over-extragted about her life teaching the children of King Mongkut of Siam.
Now I don’t know much about the King and I or Thailand’s history but I do know that Thialand was never colonized because of the reforms of modernization undertaken by Mongkut a.k.a Rama IV and Rama V.
I have also seen The Legend of Suriyothai which is a movie about Suriyothai, one of Thailand’s most famous and beloved Queens. The movie was financed by Queen Sirikit, directed by a member of the Royal family and stars a minor royal and a pop star. But enough of that tangent and my clear stalling, let’s talk about The King and I.
Unlike other movies that just introduce characters and situations this one make the bold decision not to. The king’s advisor dude, The Kralahome wants to be king because all bad guys want to rule for no reason. He spies on Anna on route to Siam with her son and thinks “I can use this lady to dethrone the king.” So what does he do? Sends a dragon with his BS illusion magic that is never explained to I think scare her, not sure what his plan is. Then Anna sings her whistling song and the dragon either finds the whistling or uptempo singing disagreeable and peaces out.
Anna docks and her son gets to keep a monkey whose name is Mushi, or Mochi, or Munchi, I couldn’t understand the kid and who cares (it seems to be Moonchee and I still don’t care). Anywho Kralahome and his overly offensive minion Master Little welcomes Anna and tells her she isn’t going to live in a house like she was promised which get Anna’s panties all in a knot. There is also a lame running gag where Master Little looses his teeth, charming.
Anna speaks to the King who getting a present from Burma, a girl named Tuptim who can read, OMG Shocks! Then Kralahome then decides to try and kill Anna’s son, Louis because the King will get blamed for it. Huh? What? How do you figure that? Kralahome is a massive dum-dum. That plan by Kralahome fails too like the dragon. But whatever his lame plans pads out the running time.
Then we see Tuptim meeting her cute sidekick, a little Elephant named Tusker and then she meets the crown prince, Chulalongkorn and voila they’re in love because they’re attractive, meh they’re teens.
Then Anna meets the nameless kids of the king and that pads out the running time for a little bit. Then Anna starts teaching and takes them outside the palace sings the getting to know you song while Mater Little and the Monkey cause antics, I really can’t remember why, probably another Kralahome master plan of dumbness.
Then Kralahome sends a letter to the Bristish saying that Anna is being treated badly and the King is a barbarian. The letter plan works as the Bristish officer heads to Siam to dethrone him. Yeah that is just dumb.
Kralahome then sends killer statues while the King sing-prays to Buddha but the King’s panther, Rama (everyone has pet/sidekick) defeats them before the King notices by roaring. I don’t get what Kralahome’s plan is.
Then the British come and Anna convinces the King to put on a banquest because the Bristish like dinner parties, but if Downton Abbey has taught me anything that is where the real fighting is really done.
Master Little learns that the crown Prince gave the royal pendent to Tuptim so Kralahome uses that info to goat the king into being a meanie pants at the banquet because when he learns this he wants to whip Tuptim to death but then decides to send her back to Burma which is also death. The Crown Prince and Tuptim run off. Kralohome decides that this is a good opertunity to kill the king or something but when that plan fails he just decides to use firworks (a la Mulan) to kill him. It doesn’t work so Kralahome is sentenced to clean up the sacred white elephant shit, The crown prince gets to marry Tuptim and Anna gets her house. I was just so happy when it was over.
One of the main problem with this anus of movie is that in order to make it friendly for kids they threw in sidekicks everywhere. These sidekicks come at the expense of the characters who are really there so that the production didn’t have to think to hard. The story, characters and songs were already established but the additions of the sidekicks just steamrolls over that.
The getting to know you sequence is a great example, the movie has Anna and the kids singing it but the focuses is on Master Little and that Monkey. After a while I just tuned it out as a coping mechanism.
So we don’t get interesting or compelling characters in this, hell Disney Sequels have more interesting and compelling characters, at least Madeline in the hunchback sequel got more of a characterization then any character in this movie. The King wants technology and tradition, Anna wants a house, The prince and Tuptim want to get married and Kralahome just wants power. What is it with advisors wanting power?
Speaking of Kralohome, what the fuck. This guy is like Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones. Like Cersei, Kralahome thinks he is like a genius and a master tactician but he is really just an idiot. On what planet do you think a King will get blamed for the death of a boy when your fucking minion is the last one seen with him? There so much fail with Kralohome, I would feel embarrassed for him, if I cared.
I have already mention Tuptim, who I would assume is the token Princess-like character. Tuptim was given to the king from Burma. She can read but never seems to want to read, that would have made her interesting. Instead she is in love with the Prince and whines about being a servant never mind she is a stranger in a strange place no instead she has a elephant. See what I mean about the characters having next to no personality.
Seeing as the songs where not original to the movie, I’m not going to talk about them but they are fine on their whole, I guess. To be honest half the song don’t bother to focus on the singer or the subject matter so if the movie doesn’t care why should I?
The animation on the other hand is a train-wreak. It’s bad in the sense that it’s trying really, really hard to be good which makes it bad. It’s not even bad in that special bad way, it just off-putting. The dialogue is also really off-putting with it’s on and off again broken English.
The King and I is just a lame-duck of movie. It has nothing going to for it, I found the coldness in feet far more entertaining than this dork of movie. One final piece of trivia, this movie made the Roger and Hammerstein estate have a no animated movie stance on any their musical in the future, Good Job movie commend your lameness.Follow thehunchblog