Fun in Balloon Land

1965 cheaply produced nightmare fuel

Rating: 1/20

Plot: A kid is whisked to Balloon Land where he has what I believe are supposed to be adventures with ocean life, cowboys and Indians, and ballerinas. Then, we're forced to watch a parade narrated by a woman who can barely read.

Two bits of shane-movies trivia here:

1) There's no way I've watched two movies back-to-back with such a gap in lengths. Tarr's Satantango at 7 1/2 hours and this at 53 minutes? I think that record is safe for a long time.

2) I don't believe I've ever watched a 1/20 and a 20/20 back-to-back like this. Not a lot of movies get 20's, and not a lot of movies get 1's, so I  really doubt I have.

This opens with a few shots of a parade, but if you don't pay attention and miss things, don't worry because you'll see the same shots again later on. As an introduction, parade shots aren't a terrible way to go. This isn't shot very well, just one camera from a single location on the parade route. But the real problem is the song accompanying the parade shots. It sounds as if the lyrics were either hurriedly written with barely a tune to very literally describe what was happening in the parade or they were made up on the spot. If it's the latter, demons are very obviously involved because there are multiple people singing. I'm not sure how long this opening song lasts, but it's way too long. "Look at the float, ain't it ducky. Hey, kids, now aren't we lucky." You might think that's the worse set of lines in any song that's ever been "written," but then you're hit with something like "Elephants trunks are a-waggin high over the little red wagon. My, how the teddy bear's laggin'. I'll bet his arches are saggin'" and you just want to die.

Then, you get the story. Sonny is being read to, but whoever's reading to him falls asleep. There are no credits for this movie listed on imdb, unfortunate because I'd like to see if the kid ever did anything else. Sonny wanders over to an open book that's taller than him and stands with his back to the camera like he's waiting for the Blair Witch.

Or maybe that's not a book. I'm not sure what that is.

Suddenly, he's whisked to Balloon Land, a place that would be magical for any child who was locked in a basement and not allowed to see any of the outside world until the age of ten. He has a conversation where he really shows off his acting chops with a tall balloon aristocrat or something before some ballerinas come out and dance for what seems to be twenty minutes. The voice of that balloon character, along with the voices of all the balloon characters are read by somebody who was kidnapped, put in the trunk of a car, and forced to read the lines by flashlight. The anxiety he must have felt might explain why he reads, "You may now go out and slay any dragon you wish to stray" at one point.

Now by this point in the movie, you're completely stunned. But you're still not prepared for the next balloon scene where Sonny's had an inexplicable wardrobe change and apparently supposed to be underwater.

What is happening? 

No, I don't know what that blue thing is. The entire sequence has a sound effect that I'm sure is just a person with a glass of water and a straw making the exact sounds that my parents told me to stop making when I was seven. That water king has the same voice as the balloon creatures. And not even mermaids can save Sonny from what I assume is a future career in gay pornography. 

The whole thing is nightmarish. 

After a stop at a farm where Sonny dances around with some other children while singing the exact song you would guess he'd sing at a farm, he meets some bow-legged cowboys. 

It's Sonny's fourth wardrobe change. The kid's like Lady Gaga or something. And maybe at this point, the viewer starts to think, "Well, this is excruciatingly awful, but at least it's completely harmless. There's no overt racism or anything like that, right?"

Son of a bitch! Come on, Fun in Balloon Land! What the hell? The kid continues talking to these balloon creatures, but to be honest, I had no idea what they were talking about because I was stunned by what I was seeing. 

And then, at about the 15:30 mark, we leave Balloon Land and watch a parade in Philadelphia. For nearly the rest of the movie. I don't even enjoy watching parades in person, and I've always hated seeing them on TV where Al Roker or whoever has to sit there and read descriptions of what we're seeing. That's sort of what's going on here except the woman narrating the parade can't read very well. She's like a child who was given these lines, ran through them once or twice, was told to "read it with some feeling," and then tried her best to read them with feeling even though she didn't seem to understand them. And for a half an hour, that's all you get--a woman poorly narrating a parade. You wonder how many times she's going to say the word "gay," feel sorry for the Southern Lehigh marching band who likely has no idea that they're in something that could damage their reputation by being featured in this, and scratch your head when she says things like "Have you ever heard the expression 'dressed up like a circus horse'?" It ends with Santa Claus, but by that point, there's nothing at all to believe in. 

The best shot of the movie might be a young kid watching the parade who actually yawns.

So must of this movie doesn't even happen in Balloon Land, and you really start to feel bad for Sonny. But you feel worse for yourself because you're watching a poorly-narrated parade. Sonny ends up just fine, right back with the Blair Witch, and the whole thing ends with the producers of this mistakenly believing that we needed to hear that terrible song again. "Marrying turkey is sighin'. Even old Mr. Walrus is cryin'. Wise Mr. Owl sits there singin'. Piggy Wig stands with a ring in. . .his nose." 

A part of you will die if you decide to watch Fun in Balloon Land

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