Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Forgotten Gems: "The Point"

Wow... long time since I've done one of these, eh? Every so often, something from my youth rears its head in unexpected ways and places. And I'll tell you how this post came a bout, in a bit.

I know I saw the delightful animated film The Point when it first aired in 1971 on (I believe) ABC, though if you know better, please let correct me. The original airing was narrated by Dustin Hoffman, who also voiced the father. Subsequent airings had different Narrator/Fathers, including Harry Nilsson and Alan Thicke. Ringo Starr narrates the version currently available on DVD.

I was not yet an adolescent when The Point tried to make me understand that being different was okay; that there will always be those who love us, unconditionally and that each of us has purpose in life.

Oblio (Mike Lookinland -- Bobby on "The Brady Bunch")* is a round-headed boy born in a land of pointy-headed people. After a misunderstanding, Oblio is banished to the Pointless Forest, where he and his faithful dog Arrow encounter all sorts of beings in all different shapes and sizes and learning exactly what 'The Point' is. Oh, how I loved this movie...

The animation is very much a product of its time, though director Fred Wolf does a terrific job with the Norm Lenzer's script, based on an original story by the film's songwriter, Harry Nilsson. The movie generated two minor hits for Nilsson: "Me and My Arrow" (which later went on to be the theme for a car commercial) and "Are You Sleeping?" Both songs are pure 70's "Love, Peace, Flowers, Beads, Happiness," but I always associate them with this sweet little movie's oh-so-positive message.

Were we really that innocent 40 years ago? Of course, they were saying the same thing in the 70's about the 30's and in the 80's about the 40's, etc. It doesn't matter, I suppose. We were all innocent, once. Real life changes that... and that's kind of sad, actually.

I was visiting my usual cyber-haunts when I found a silly cartoon on Jonco's Bits and Pieces, which immediately brought The Point to mind, and a wave of nostalgia passed over me. Uncle P suddenly found himself transported back to his youth in The Time of the Hippies. I was 10 years-old and had no idea why a shirtless Speed Racer made my heart race, why Batman and Robin were so appealing or why I already felt "different." I just did. The Point is one of those great little movies every kid should see, if only so they can learn that being different isn't such a terrible thing at all.

So what brought this on? A stupid panel cartoon I saw on another blog that was captioned: "Triangles and Squares know that Circles are pointless." How could that not have gone right to "The Point?"

*Remind me to tell you about my friend Jon and 'The Brady Bunch Game,' some time. It's a little sick (okay - a lot sick), but pretty damned hilarious. And there's a hilarious cemetery story to share about him, too. Hmm.... I sense a JLG post in the fairly near future. I'll be seeing him on my birthday at Coney Island, for the first time in 27 or 28 years. Yikes!

More, anon.


Stephen said...

Thank you!
The Point is a favorite of mine & my husband's. We still play the Harry Nilsson CD. Harry was a major player in our 1st year as a couple. Great to have you post a reminder of how great this TV special was!

Stephen said...

BTW... "GROPES" was my verification word!

Prospero said...

Good lord, I think this means I must contact Harry and create a stage version...