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Romance, Comedy, Musical
IMDB rating:
Kathleen Marshall
Tracey Ullman as Princess Winnifred
Stephenos Christou as Dancing Knight
Brittany Gray as Ensemble
Scott Augustine as Dancing Knight
Linda Bernath as Dancer
Jordan Cable as Dancing Knight
Paul Becker as Knight
Michael Boatman as The Jester
Edward Hibbert as The Wizard
Matthew Morrison as Sir Harry
Michelle Harrison as Princess #12
Carol Burnett as Queen Aggravain
Zooey Deschanel as Lady Larken
Denis O'Hare as Prince Dauntless
Storyline: In this hilarious tweaking of the fairy tale, "The Princess and the Pea", Queen Aggravain has ruled that none may marry until her son, Prince Dauntless marries. However, she has managed to sabotage every princess that come along. When Sir Harry and Lady Larken learn that they are going to be parents, wed or not, he goes off to the swamps and brings back Princess Winnifred ("Fred" to her friends). The queen is horrified and immediately begins to scheme, but Winnifred, with some help from Sir Harry, the King, and the Jester, isn't going to be quite so easy to get rid of.
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To crs949
Don't know what "innocent" version of ONCE UPON A MATTRESS you saw in your youth, but this version is even more sanitized than the Broadway show or either of the 2 TV versions.

Your problem with "Pre-marital sex": Larken and Harry in the B'way show and 1972 TV version were not married. In the 1964 TV version, they were secretly married to appease the censors.

"Emphasis on the wedding night sex": the "Man To Man Talk" song between the King and Dauntless also was in the B'way show, and the 1972 TV version.

"Latent homosexuality": Not a part of the B'way show nor the TV versions, but, hey, what planet are you living on? "Will and Grace" airs in the so-called "family hour" on NBC. And Gay people have always been a part of the entertainment industry. Carol Burnett, on her classic TV variety show, often brought on guest stars who were suspected by the general public to be "known-homosexuals." (I can recall my rather naive mother telling me more than 35 years ago that Rock Hudson was gay.) Carol brought stars like Rock, Jim Nabors, Roddy McDowall, Nancy Walker, and many others onto her show. Carol was and is, in many ways, and honorary "friend of Dorothy." And don't let's talk about Bob Mackie. . .perhaps the greatest costumer designer ever!!!

I'm surprised you didn't mention the quasi-incestuous relationship between Agravain and Dauntless, something glossed over in this PC/2005 conservative version. In the original play and 1964 and 1972 TV version the Queen--after manhandling and promising Dauntless that she knows best--actually says (in an aside to the audience) "Oh, God, if I were only 20 years younger." (MY ASIDE: I once saw a production of BRIGADOON at a Christian High School where the 2nd act nightclub scene was changed to a COFFEE SHOP!!! My, how the times have regressed from enlightenment to close-mindedness.

BTW--I did like this version, but the earlier versions were better.
Very endearing little musical with a mixed bag of results...
While watching ONCE UPON A MATTRESS and seeing Carol Burnett as Queen Aggravain, I immediately realized that she must have played Princess Winnifred in the original version of the show in the '60s. This became all too clear when I saw that Tracey Ullman's daffy princess was lacking a certain spark that Burnett would have given to the part--plus she was a little too mature for the role to begin with.

Denis O'Hare seemed another case of miscasting as Prince Dauntless, a role could easily have been played by Matthew Morrison, who instead was saddled with a boring secondary role.

But despite these misgivings, there's much to like about this rowdy version of the tale, vibrant with colorful sets and costumes (particularly Burnett's jeweled outfits) and some witty lines that are tossed about by a capable cast.

But there's always the feeling that something isn't right--and not being able to compare this version with the original I can't say what it is but I see from other reviews that much of the original material was altered or deleted entirely. Perhaps this is why there's a feeling that it could have been so much better.

Summing up: For Carol Burnett fans, it's a delicious chance to watch her play broad comedy with such finesse. She never misses an opportunity to ham it up but keeps it from being too over-the-top to be enjoyable. And while the choreography could have been more inventive, Tracey Ullman gives all of her energy to some of the dance routines with some very funny results.

Unfortunately, Tom Smothers is wasted in the role of the mute King Sextimus. But all in all, it's a fun version of a fractured fairy-tale, based on "The Princess and the Pea."
This movie was pretty good
all the people who have seen this movie thought Zooey Deschanel who plays Lady Larken was terrible but i thought she was OK She sings in a cabaret called "If all stars were pretty babies" so she has a jazz type of voice so people lay off the rude remarks! But MATTHEW MORRISON WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he is so gorgeous! and Denis o'hare disgusted me on how he acts like a little kid and even how he sings is like hearing nails on a chalkboard! Tracey Ullman was better than expected but she doesn't knock your socks off and carol Burnett is never bad! she always does a amazing job! and Micheal boatman who plays the Jester is hilarious! I give this movie one thumb up but its worth watching!
Carol Burnett And Tracey Ullman. Pure Wonderful World Of Disney Magic.
i just love Disney musicals. i know this didn't start out "Disneyized", it, of course, started out on stage in the early 60's with Burnett in the Princess Winnifred role. i even saw the televised version with Burnett as a kid ( i loved that too), but now that i've seen this wonderfully "Disneyish" and light-hearted version i find it impossible now to think of 'Mattress' as anything but pure Disney.

i first saw this version on the 'Wonderful World of Disney' when it premiered several years ago. i was lucky enough to see a short intro. scene with Carol Burnett, a little girl, and the Disney princesses looking around Disneyland,Ca for Princess Winnifred. it was great.

everything about this production is so romantic and sweet it's hard to imagine anyone not warming to it's pleasing congeniality. but there are always a few hard-butts in the crowd. also anyone not understanding why this version stands out or why it should have been made is being a little obtuse and silly. this production stands above simply because it has the involvement and blessing of Carol Burnett herself. the original Winnifred. so those fans that don't understand this,"HELLO".

people should stop sharpening their knives so much and stop attacking things that are nice and good for you. it doesn't make you sound like a professional critic by always being too cynical. lighten up please.

i find it interesting to note that when this first came out and i was so sure this was a great adaptation, but others were not convinced, i think it's my vindication to point out how big it's two young stars, Matthew Morrison and Zooey Deschanel, have become since then. Deschanel even has her own pop/rock band. i told everybody so.

i find it interesting how a little off-Broadway sex comedy could become so perfect for Disney. i think it's because Disney turns it from an adult music comedy into a full out fairy tale. it's about time Disney did the 'Princess and the pea' fairy story and 'Mattress' is the best way for Disney to tell it. it turned out so right for them.

i hope someday that Disney has the sense to release a version of 'Mattress' with the Carol Burnett intro at Disneyland, ca that i saw on the 'Wonderful World of Disney'. maybe then would some people get it through their thickness that this is 'Disney' music magic at it's finest.
A fun family musical that they don't make film versions of anymore!
Of the TV versions of Broadway musicals they've made since 1992's "Gypsy", only "Once Upon a Mattress" had never been done as a film before, only as two television specials. Both starred Carol Burnet as Princess Winifred (nickname, "Fred"), Here (still top billed), she's cast as the domineering queen who is scheming to keep her son from getting married. Along comes swamp princess Winifred who is so determined to get into the castle that she swims the moat. The queen instantly is determined to prevent Prince Dauntless from marrying her so she schemes to come up with the ultimate way for Winifred to fail the test which determines if she is worthy or not.

If you have been lucky enough to have seen the TV versions or any stage production of it (including a 1996 Broadway revival), you are already familiar with the many fractured fairy tale elements of the narrative. This is not your typical classic Disney tale, nor is it thought-provoking like Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods". Burnett is deliciously wicked, dressed out in gowns and head dresses designed by her old pal Bob Mackie. This feels like a full-length version of one of her TV show's musical spoofs, minus her cast of regulars. As Winifred, Tracy Ullman is very funny although she may not have been my first choice because of her age, but she is musically pleasant, and blasts "Shy" to the gills.

Denis O'Hare as Prince Dauntless is appropriately shy and geeky, while Tom Smothers as the silent king does what he can with a rather thankless part. He lacks the facial expressions that Jack Gilford hysterically brought to the role that requires a lot of pantomime. Zooey Deschanel and Matthew Morrison are fine as the secondary romantic couple, but they are overshadowed by the more comical leads. Michael Boatman is amusing as the court jester, while Edward Hibbert is appropriately nebbish as the Wizard, who acts as the Queen's "Yes Man".

The score is a lot of fun, most remembered for "Shy", but also contains such delights as "I'm in love with a girl named Fred", and "Happily Ever After", a great showcase for Ullman. While this production isn't technically as lavish as the most recent TV "Cinderella", or as memorable as "Gypsy" and "Annie" (also remade for TV), it still holds up as one of the better recent TV musicals. With Burnett having been crowned Queen here after having swam the moat two previous times, it's an important record of a show that might not be one of the all-time great shows, but it's a true crowd pleaser. Now if someone would get the other two versions out on DVD, as well as the early Julie & Carol specials.
an applause for "Once on a Mattress" 2005
Reqarding "Once on a Mattress" Maybe its because I am 64, yet still have a romantic heart, but I found nothing out of line in having the principal characters played by people in their 40s. Contextually, this was appropriate. And I thoroughly enjoyed Tracy Ulman as "Fred".

Tracy Ulman's performance in "I am shy" reminded me of the bold delivery of Ethel Merman.

Tom Smothers was perfect for the part of Sextemus, and Carol Burnett is her usual terrific self.

The young couple not only were well fit for their roles, but they also sang beautifully together.

I was pleased to learn that this is being made available on DVD. I see it as a keeper.
Mattress a Sleeper!
As a fan of the musical, I was terribly disappointed at the Disneyfied TV version. First off, it appeared to me that it was simply a vehicle for Carol Burnett. Her costumes far outshone all others, her acting was way over the top, her singing (which was never good to begin with) was worse than usual, and to add insult to injury, they deleted better songs and added a new one for La Burnett.

Tracey Ullman was far too old for Winnifred, Dennis O'Hare was far too fey for Dauntless, the girl who played Larkin was so boring that I can't even remember her name. Each time she and Matthew Morrison came on screen, I fast forwarded.

As someone who would like to see more musicals shown on television, I thought this was a poor example. Boring, Boring, Boring.

They should have shown this to Winnifred ... it would have knocked her right out!
"Once Upon a Mattress" a delightful treat
Okay, I may have given this movie one too many stars, but the performances of Carol Burnett and Tracy Ullman deserve it. And I think previous criticisms may have been too harsh. The reason this movie deserves at least 7 stars is because despite that it has Disney Channel-like sets and was made for T.V., the story is a pleasant one. The movie could have catered to the 4 to 10 year old age range, but it doesn't, it has enough witty dialog and dry humor to appeal to adults alike. Dry humor is found in the quick dialog, for instance, when Sir Harry tells Lady Larken that her pregnancy was caused by "a moment of weakness," or any of Carol Burnett's countless facial expressions that make you just happy to be in the same room as the comical genius, even though she's only on T.V. I was sad to see it end so quickly.

I had never seen the story before and felt very justified in sitting in front of it for two hours. I bet watching it on DVD without commercials would be even more satisfying. If any of you were a fan of the Albert Finney "Annie" movie, you'll love this one. That's my two cents.
Average, except for Zooey
I just watched the DVD for the first time last night. Personally, I found most of the performances average at best, except for Zooey Deschanel. After seeing her in Elf, then Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, I would love to be able to see her cabaret act in person. She has an awesome singing voice, gorgeous eyes, and a seductiveness that seems unmatched by any other actress/singer of her generation. She is a true breath of fresh air! There are so many plastic singers out there right now, as well as many young actresses that try so hard to make you like them that they come across as flighty. But Zooey has a relaxed attitude that just automatically makes you smile. I am really hoping that the many projects she is currently in filming for 2007 release give her the opportunity to display all of her talents.
generally fun, with reservations
I barely remember the 1972 television version of this, so it's probably unfair to say that one was better. But my impression is it was better, simply because Burnette played Winnifred. This is not to say Tracey Ullman was bad. Ullman is tremendously talented and she does a good job, but she was too restrained in the part. Burnette perfectly captured the world's least appropriate princess, but Ullman actually comes across as fairly sweet and gentle, at most mildly eccentric and occasionally slightly loud. It doesn't help that Burnette cannot completely contain her inherent wackiness; the play feels as though it should be a contrast between a cold, imperious queen and a wild, tomboyish princess, but the distance between Ullman and Burnette doesn't seem that great.

Still, it's a fun musical with many amusing moments and a good cast. And who knows, maybe if I saw that 1972 version I'd say, this isn't nearly as good as I remember.
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