• The Point (MVD Rewind) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: MVD Rewind
    Released on: February 25th, 2020.
    Director: Fred Wolf
    Cast: Ringo Starr, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Frees, Lennie Weinrib, Bill Martin, Alan Thicke, Mike Lookinland
    Year: 1971
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    The Point – Movie Review:

    The Point is the strange animated story that takes place in The Land Of The Point. This is a place where literally everyone and everything has a physical point to it, even its populace. The one exception to this is a young boy named Oblio (Mike Lookinland), whose head is round. Regardless of his unique appearance, Oblio is well-liked by everyone who knows him.

    This does not sit well with the sinister Count (Lennie Weinrib), a villainous denizen of The Land Of The Point who is jealous of Oblio’s popularity while that of his own son is, pretty understandably, in the hole. The Count puts forth the theory that Oblio’s appearance, clearly different form everyone else’s, makes him an outlaw and eventually the poor kid is exiled to The Pointless Forest, his canine companion Arrow along for the ride. In the forest, Oblio meets all manner of creatures where he learns that it’s okay to be pointless.

    Based on a story by Harry Nilsson, who also wrote and performed the original songs in the film (Me And My Arrow / Everything's Got 'Em / Poli High / Think About Your Troubles / Life Line / P.O.V. Waltz / Are You Sleeping?), The Point is an oddly charming little film. Clearly intended for a children’s audience when it was released, and narrated by Ringo Starr, it’s an enjoyably upbeat and quirky story that is, for lack of a better way to phrase things, genuinely cute.

    The animation style is a little unorthodox, bordering on psychedelic at times, but the film’s positivity is endearing and the picture makes great use of an interesting cast of voice actors. Starr’s narration is quite well done (though Nilsson himself narrated things on the soundtrack album) but Lookinland (best known as Bobby Brady on TV’s The Brady Bunch) does a swell job as Oblio. Lennie Weinrib is a lot of fun as the sinister count and Buddy Foster as his son. There are also little vocal cameos from such recognizable actors as Alan Thicke, Dustin Hoffman and Paul Frees.

    The film is paced well at ninety-minutes, never overstaying its welcome. It has a nice sense of adventure to it and the positivity of its message is endearing. It’s hard to say how kids might react to it in 2020, but those with a nostalgia for oddball seventies cultural artifacts should get plenty of enjoyment out of it. And of course, Beatles fans will have an interest in the film due to Starr and Nilsson’s involvement in all of this.

    The Point – Blu-ray Review:

    The Point is taken from a ‘new 2K high definition transfer from 16mm film elements’ and is presented on a 50GB disc in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The negative for the feature appears to have been lost, but Lee Blackman and the Nilsson Estate was able to access a 16mm print courtesy of Kier-La Janisse which was scanned, color graded and restored. The elements were clearly in less than perfect shape, but this release does improve upon the older DVD release that came out back in 2012. The image looks filmic throughout, showing no issues with artificial sharpening, noise reduction or compression. Print damage is common but detail advances quite handily over the DVD. Not a perfect presentation but a good one considering the elements that were available.

    Audio options are offered up in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital Stereo with optional subtitles offered up in English only. The audio here seems to be identical to the DVD release. Obviously, a lossless option would have been preferred but what’s here does at least sound good, while still leaving room for improvement. The narration is clean and clear and the music and songs sound nice.

    There are four new featurettes included on this disc, the first of which is Nilsson On Screen: Biographer Alyn Shipton And Friends On Harry Nilsson's Film Projects & Appearances. This thing runs just over an hour in length and it features comments not just from Shipton but also Perry Botkin Jr. (Nilsson’s songwriting partner), Lee Newman (who played Oblio in a stage adaptation of The Point in 1991), author Amanda Reyes, actor Frank Stallone, producer/director Stanley Dorfman, animator Tim Bruckner, writer of The Point Tom Lenzer and writer/director Tony Garnett. Shipton goes into a lot of detail about Nilsson’s work for the screen. Shipton talks about how Nilsson became a huge fan of cinema in his younger days, how he connected with George Tipton and how they developed a friendship. Lots of great stories here about what it was like to know and collaborate with Nilsson, his work for the screen, the influence of The Point and its stage adaptation and lots, lots more.

    Up next is the original Claymation sequence created by Dean Torrance (of Jan & Dean fame) that inspired The Point. It’s a funny little three-minute piece shot in black and white and set to music featuring a man who leaves his kitchen with unintended consequences. Nilsson worked on the short with Torrance.

    The seventeen-minute The Kid's Got A Point is an interview with Mike Lookinland who talks about how a picture of him on his dad’s desk at work inspired someone to give his dad a business card for an agent which led to him getting into show business at a young age which led to him getting work on The Brady Bunch. He then talks about working on The Point, which he looks back on quite fondly, getting along with other child actors like Jodie Foster, doing commercial work, how he basically just tried to be himself while doing the voice work for Oblio, how doing voice work was different than other acting he’d done and quite a bit more.

    That Old Guy Wrote The Point: A Conversation With Screenwriter Norm Lenzer is fifteen-minutes of just that. He talks about where the idea for the story came from, how he was under pressure to get the script finished as production was starting on the movie, why Nilsson didn’t wind up writing the script himself and how he came on board to do it. He also talks about working with Fred Wolf and Harry Nilsson and how things didn’t initially go so well in that regard, having to take the story and stretch it out to feature length, the presence of the Rock Man in the film, how certain lines reference the Vietnam War and lots more.

    Everybody's Got a Point: Kiefo Nilsson And Bobby Halvorson On Adapting The Point spends sixteen-minutes with the duo. Kiefo Nilsson, Harry’s son, talks about how the movie was always around when he was a kid and how some parts of the movie were a little scary to see as a kid. He also talks about how music was always around growing up, his father’s songwriting style and how it suits The Point. Keifo then plays some selections on the piano, before then going on to talk about rediscovering some of the hidden gems on his father’s albums which led to a series of concerts starting in 2016 where he performed music from The Point, how he met Bobby Halvorson (at which point he joins the conversation) and how they started working together adapting The Point into a live music experience. They play a bit more music together on camera before the piece ends.

    Carried over from the older DVD release is The Making Of The Point, a four-part featurette made up of the following chapters: Who Is Harry Nilsson?, Pitching The Point, Making The Point and Legacy Of The Point. Combined, this material clocks in at twenty-seven-minutes. This covers some of the same ground that the newer pieces do but it’s nice to have it included here for posterity’s sake.

    Menus and chapter selection are included on the disc, which comes packaged with a slipcover and which also includes a fold-out collectible mini-poster. We also get a trailer for the feature and bonus trailers for Getting Even With Dad and Savannah Smiles.

    The Point – The Final Word:

    The Point is a fun watch, a quirky little cartoon suitable for kids of any age and likely to appeal to adults with an affection for weird old cartoons as well. MVD’s Blu-ray release does a good job with imperfect elements and offers up a seriously impressive array of supplements too. All in all, a nice release for a sweet film.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Point Blu-ray screen caps!