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Heroes Are a Nightmare in 'Twice Upon a Time'

July 11, 1991|JON NALICK

More than once upon a time there has been, in movies, a cruel plot to destroy the world as we know it.

Only this time, the good guys are so amazingly incompetent that the happily-ever-after ending to the story is always in jeopardy.

"Twice Upon a Time," a funny animated fantasy film produced by George Lucas, chronicles a nightmare-maker's quest to plunge the world into a permanent bad dream, and the would-be heroes from the land of Frivoli who scramble to stop him.

The strength of the movie, which was released in 1983, is its cast of quirky characters. It includes the ever-bumbling Ralph the All-Purpose Animal and his equally inept friend Mumford (who looks like Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp and speaks only in sound effects).

They are accompanied by the profoundly dimwitted Rod Rescueman, an underemployed super-hero wanna-be still working with a learner's permit, and Flora Fauna, an aspiring actress who also happens to be a flower. With friends like Rod and Flora on their side, the good guys need all the help they can get.

Together, they tackle the machinations of the diabolical Synonamess Botch, a chain-smoking nightmare manufacturer with a "Nixon-Agnew '68" tattoo on his potbelly and an unnatural fondness for a belching mutant armadillo named Ratatouille. Botch is aided by Scuzzbopper, head nightmare writer, and Ibor, a robot gorilla who has a television for a face and speaks by showing video clips from such movies as "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

At the foul Murkworks, Botch hatches a plan to stop time in the world populated by real people, and use a host of cruel-eyed, growling vultures to cram it full of nightmare bombs. That done, he plans to restart time and push The Button, setting off the bombs and turning reality into a permanent nightmare.

One nightmare sequence in which the heroes are attacked by scissors, staple removers and other office supplies is especially noteworthy for its graphic effects and could almost stand alone. The voice characterizations--which include those of Lorenzo Music, who does the voice of cartoon character "Garfield"--are also well done.

Although not every large video rental store carries the movie, some Wherehouse and Blockbuster Video stores have copies.

"Twice Upon a Time" (1983), directed by John Korty and Charles Swenson. 75 minutes. Rated PG.

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