At first glance Once Upon a Mattress would appear to be a bit of a Disney cash grab, an often performed musical featuring a couple of aging comediennes, one of which had performed a role in the musical for decades.
Based on a musical by Dean Fuller and Marshall Barer and directed by Kathleen Marshall, Once Upon a Mattress is a musical and hilarious take on The Princess and the Pea. Sir Harry and Lady Larkin (Zooey Deschanel, Elf) are in love with one another, b…t are unable to marry because of Harry’s mother, Queen Aggravain (Carol Burnett). Aggravain tells Harry that he needs to find a royal bride for his brother Prince Dauntless (Denis O’Hare, Garden State) in order to marry Larkin.
Harry’s quest to find to find a Princess brings Winnifred (Tracey Ullman, Tracey Takes On), who Aggravain questions as being royal, because of her behavior, which is less than regal. She decides to put Winnifred to a test, where she has to sleep on 20 mattresses with a pea underneath them all. If Winnifred notices it and is unable to sleep (she is a Princess after all), so she is able to marry Dauntless.
Burnett played Aggravain in this film, but the sentimental part of things is that she played Winnifred in the original Broadway run, and two previous TV movies. She plays Aggravain well, and Ullman’s performance as Winnifred gives her a chance to vamp every so often. Even with the tongue in cheek stuff, the musical numbers are set up very well, and overall, it’s a very entertaining experience.
1.78:1 widescreen in this 90 minute feature, but the lighting makes some of the main characters faces look, well, a little bit pasty. That’s a little more towards the overall lighting of the film than anything else, but still, a lush film production should look better than this.
Well, there’s a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack here, but the problem is that the sound mix is a little erratic. The dialogue sounds significantly lower than the musical numbers, but the musical numbers don’t seem as robust over a 6 speaker setup as you’d imagine. The lyrics and singers come through on the center channel, and the rest of the music comes through OK, but a little weak overall.
There isn’t too much going on here, aside from two or three extras that last about 5 minutes each. You’ve got the obligatory trailers, and something that seems to give the hint of a gag reel isn’t (no big deal), along with a “making of” look at the film and a couple of rehearsal to film comparisons for a couple of musical numbers.
The disappointing things about this movie are the things that should help accentuate the experience, namely the audio and video, both of which are disappointing. If you can look past both of those things, the movie has some cute dialogue and decent musical numbers, and overall the film is fun for all ages.
Special Features List
- Making of Featurette
- Rehearsal to Film Comparison
- Between Takes Footage