“Welcome to the library, young man. Don’t tell me. You’re here for a special book.” - Mr. Dewey
The road to the center of VHS Hell has been arduous and hot. I venture further and further down Mount Diode, in the distance I can see an ocean of low-def TVs surrounding by eternal crimson heat. The air is thick and taste of burnt popcorn and stale Raisinettes. Damaged, tired but undefeated I’ve decided to stop and recuperate. Tonight, I set up camp near the mouth of River Azimuth and use my first mulligan.
If you were anything like me as a child you would often bury your face in the pages of a new book. Reading one or even two books in one sitting. I still am a voracious reader, but when I was younger books seemed to be much more powerful to me than they are now. Maybe it was because I was so much more optimistic as a child, or maybe it was because I had so much more time to read. Mostly, I think it was because my imagination had no barriers, no limits, when I was young. The only thing that could stop it was bedtime. Even then, my dreams were filled with the images, sights, and sounds of my books. Words come to life, fully realized and sense absorbing.
The Pagemaster, was the first movie I had ever seen that came closest to capturing the feeling I had when I read books as a child. I may have been slightly less timid than the main character in Pagemaster, but like his experiences in the film, books opened up brand new worlds to me. After re-watching Pagemaster, I can say the film still holds a strange power over me. Reminding me that my imagination only has the boundaries I create.
Richard Tyler (Macaulay Culkin) a geek, and often afraid, little boy spends most of his time avoiding the world. Using statistics, to justify his apprehensions of experiencing the world. His parents, concerned about his lack of participation in the normal activities of a kid his age, decided that they need to “toughen” him up.
One day, his dad asks him to ride his bike (Sick Ass Bike) to the hardware store to buy some nails for the tree house they are building, well his dad is building. Caught in a rainstorm, Richard takes shelter in a near by library where he is greeted by a slightly creepy but mostly eccentric librarian (Christopher Llyod), who forces Richard to take a library card.
Inside the library, Richards curiously finds his way into the fantasy section. Still wet from the rainstorm, he slips and hits his head. When he awakes, the grandiose painting above him begins to melt. The library, now seemingly alive, swallows him up sending him to an animated world.
There he meets The Pagemaster (Voiced by Christopher Llyod) who tells him that in order to return to the real world he must face three test, Adventure, Horror, and Fantasy.
Throughout his journey he meets three talking, anthropomorphic books: Adventure (Voiced by Patrick Stewart), Fantasy (Voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), and Horror (Voiced by Frank Welker). Together they must escape Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, outsmart Long John Silver, and defeat a ferocious fire-breathing dragon. The last challenge standing in Richard’s way, himself.
Will Richard be able to face his fear, or will this book end with a cliffhanger.
The Pagemaster may be short, but in its brief 75 minute running time it is filled with imaginative wonder. The script, less imaginative that the imagery, is strengthen by a great voice acting and some surprising thrills. Pagemaster success is not only in being an entertaining film, but in provoking a sense of imagination in its viewers that hopefully inspires them to take some chances in life.
In a sentence
The Pagemaster is a wonderfully imaginative, if brief children’s movie that encourages its viewers, adults and children alike, to take chances and use your imagination.
Rotten tomatoes: 18%
My Rating: 4.5 Paint Waves Out Of 5
Bonus Video (Pagemaster Video Game Gameplay)
“You can escape purgatory, but you can’t escape Hell.” - Priest in My Left Foot
This has been day 8 of 30 VHS In 30 DAYS. My journey to the center of VHS Hell. Special thanks to I Luv Video in Austin, The World’s Largest Video Store, for being my spiritual and literal guide through VHS purgatory.