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A Troll in Central Park (also known as Stanley's Magic Garden) is a 1994 American animated musical fantasy-comedy film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. It was released on October 7, 1994 by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. The film features the voice talents of Dom DeLuise as Stanley, Phillip Glasser as Gus, Tawny Sunshine Glover as Rosie, Cloris Leachman as Queen Gnorga, Hayley Mills as Hilary, Jonathan Pryce as Alan, and Charles Nelson Reilly as King Llort.
A friendly troll with a magic green thumb grows one flower too many for the queen, whose laws require all trolls to act meanly, be ugly and scare humans whenever possible. As a punishment, he is exiled to a world of concrete, where he should live a life of proper trolldom: Manhattan. But of all places, his pod lands in Central Park, where he feels right at home. He befriends a young brother and sister, out for the day unknown to their parents, and must immediately protect them from the queen's attack. This is an adventure that teaches the importance of love and responsibility.
Why It Should Be Turned to Stone
- Poorly-written characters that are mostly total dim-wits and utterly pointless;
- Stanley is a sappy coward with a saccharine, sickly sweet personality, as well as being a delusional idiot.
- Gus is a selfish unlikable little spoiled brat who always wants to do things his way and still gets whatever dumb thing he wants no matter how bad he behaves.
- Rosie is sickeningly cute, although she's also the most likable (or tolerable) member of the main cast.
- The parents of Gus and Rosie are pointless as they're barely in the film and barely contribute to the plot at all.
- The unlikable characters never shut up, like in The Magic Voyage (which also starred Stanley's voice actor, Dom DeLuise) and Felix the Cat: The Movie.
- Bad script, bad story plot, and bad story-telling.
- Extremely childish and intelligence-insulting writing, even for animated film standards. And given how most of Don Bluth's previous films had darker, more serious tones, it makes this film's brainless, sugar-coated nature stick out like a sore thumb in his film catalogue.
- Rosie's crying is incredibly annoying and obnoxious throughout the entire film.
- The magic is never explained and does whatever the plot wants it to do. For example, at one point, Stanley enlarges Gus' toy boat which he repaired, transforming it into a "dream boat" to save the kids, and they escape together using his green thumb. But it was never established that it could do that and so far, it has only been shown to be able to grow flowers.
- Near the end of the film, when Gnorga is defeated, the spell she cast on Gus that turned him into a troll wore off. But the same didn't happen to Stanley who had been turned to stone by the magic Gus received after being cursed. He's later restored at the end of the film by Gus' green thumb, which just appeared out of absolutely nowhere with no explanation whatsoever. Not to mention that him being restored at the end felt like a pointless and clichéd fake-out death.
- Some scenes are pointless such as the thumb war scene.
- The scene where Gus cries an ocean when been cursed by Gnorga is a rip-off of the exact same scene from Disney's 1951 Alice in Wonderland (1951).
- Speaking of Alice in Wonderland (1951), even most of the character designs of Stanley's sentient talking flowers look like they've been plagiarized from said movie.
- The songs "Queen of Mean", "Absolutely Green" and "Welcome To My World" are very poorly-written, uncreative, laughable, idiotic and, for the most part, serve no purpose in this film, with Gnorga's villain song "Queen of Mean" being the worst offender as one of the worst villain songs ever written for an animated musical, even for an extremely juvenile animated film like A Troll in Central Park.
- Overall, the film is extremely boring due to the fact that there's way too much filler and pandering, mainly consisting of pointless musical numbers (as previously mentioned in WIS# 9) or scenes with pretty much nothing happening apart from colorful things moving around which are somehow meant to entertain the audience.
- The trailer of the movie spoiled the entire plot. You’re not supposed to do that in a movie trailer.
- False advertising: Speaking of which, this said trailer continuously self-praises the film, such as referring it as "a wonderous and spectacular fantasy adventure that would delight and surprise you", and "a movie that will make your heart sing", both which are outright lies.
- The scene of Stanley running around Central Park goes on for way too long.
- Just like We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, the movie has a tagged-on last minute message about the love you have with your parents, and the other moral is also tagged on as it tells you that if you don't get what you want, demand it more. That's clearly that bad of a message for kids because that just prompts spoiled people to demand more by getting what stupid thing they want.
- Speaking of the second message, the scene where it was conveyed made it, at first, seem like Gus had learned to put aside his own bratty, selfish desires in favor of protecting Rosie from Gnorga, but the second he asked his father "Dad, do you think today maybe we could do what I want to do?", it practically undoes most of the character development he had throughout the entire film, making the entire events of the film extremely redundant.
- Laughable dialogue from most of the characters, one example is in the scene where Stanley encounters a troll on his way back to his home, the troll sings "I'm a bad troll. A very bad troll."
- Stanley's attraction to Rosie is unnerving, sickening, and creepy.
- While the scene where Rosie kisses Stanley on the nose is supposed to supposed to be treated as something that is cute, charming, and innocently platonic, it instead comes off as disturbingly pedophilic, because of his overly-excited reactions when Rosie kisses him on the nose, as he literally flies into the air screaming with joy with green energy coming from his lower regions. And keep in mind that Rosie is only a toddler.
- Stanley himself is a annoying and unlikable character who is a coward, that even Gus mentions it to him. And yet, the film tries to portray him in the wrong for calling him out for this, even though it's one of the few things to like about Gus.
- Co-Writer and co-Director Gary Goldman said during an interview that the reason the movie did so poorly at the box-office was the fact that it was released without any promotion, and that release was limited. He also stated that its distributor Warner Brothers did not have any confidence in this movie.
- The ending where Stanley covers up the whole city of New York in plants is supposed to be happy and uplifting, but it is actually rather horrifying if you think about it, because this ending is very reminiscent to that to the original downer ending of Little Shop of Horrors, and Stanley's action of covering up the whole city of New York in plants is comparable to that of what villain characters like Audrey II (from Little Shop of Horrors) or Poison Ivy (from Batman & Robin) would've got up to had they not been brought to justice by Seymour and Batman respectively. Consequently, this heavily implies that Stanley himself had an evil plan of engulfing the entire world he lives in with plants in mind the whole time and therefore proves that Gnorga, the film's main antagonist, does have a valid reason on why she bans flowers in the Kingdom Of Trolls, and somehow, we are still supposed to root for him.
- Because of Stanley's actions at the ending, basically, the movie tries to force viewers to like the protagonist (Stanley) and to despise the villain (Gnorga) without giving the usual proper characterization to them as a reason to do this.
- While the animation is fantastic look at, it has a few errors that can be noticeable. Such as when Gus and Rosie leave Stanley to go home, some of their bodies start to vanish. And when Gnorga and Llort are standing in front of the viewing mirror, Llort is drawn with only one leg.
- Other than the animation errors, the movie also has it's problems with it's own continuity as well.
- During the reprise of "Absolutely Green", some of the cities have been covered in plants in different points (the World Trade Center is an example, which was covered in three different points).
- When Llort locks Rosie in a dog transport box the hinge of the door of the box is on the left side, when Gus lets her out the hinge is on the right side.
- As said before it has beautiful animation, although that's to be expected since this was made by Don Bluth, also known as the director of other animated films, such as The Land Before Time, An American Tail and the original The Secret of NIMH.
- The voice acting is still good. Dom DeLuise (who played Stanley) and Phillip Glasser (who played Gus) are best remembered for their voice work in An American Tail and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.
- Few funny moments.
- "I'm going! I'M GOING!" (BAM!) "I CAN'T I'm NOT going!".
- The musical score is well composed in spite of the terrible songs.
- The villains are okay and somewhat entertaining and enjoyable, but only because of how hammy and over the top their acting is.
- There are some moments that are admittedly funny, such as the scene where Gnorga tries to chase Gus and Rosie while... riding a tricycle.
A Troll in Central Park received mostly negative reviews from critics, audiences, and even Don Bluth himself, currently holds a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 3.6 out of 10, and it has often been regarded as the worst film Don Bluth has ever made. TV Guide gave the film two out of five stars and felt that the film's appeal was very age-limited, calling it "Pastel-pretty and cloyingly sweet," and that "A Troll in Central Park is strictly for the youngest members of the moviegoing audience." The A.V. Club wrote that A Troll in Central Park is "widely considered to be [Don Bluth's] worst film."
Bluth has distanced himself from the film, having regretted producing this film due to its poorly-written, badly-rushed, and underdeveloped script. He stated in the July 2001 issue of his magazine ToonTalk, that "the development of a story is like the development of a child in a womb; it takes time and it must be done right and building A Troll in Central Park, taught us this lesson, the hard way."
The film only made a domestic box office gross of only $71,368 making it a flop and one of the lowest grossing films Don Bluth made throughout his career in making animated films.
- This film is the last Don Bluth film to star Dom DeLuise.
- Buddy Hackett and Robert Morley were considered for the voices of Stanley and King Llort respectively.