Richard Tyler is afraid,
Because he knows each risk statistic.
Since he’s wary of their treehouse,
Dad fears he’s too pessimistic.
Seeing danger everywhere,
Rich thinks he’s smart and realistic.
Caught one day in rain and hail,
Richard finds a library, where
He meets a strange librarian
Whose words intrigue and somewhat scare.
He gives the boy a library card,
And says there’s fun for those who dare.
Richard wanders through the maze
Of books and shelves and information.
Then a mural melts and turns
The boy into an illustration.
Richard meets the Pagemaster,
Who tells him of his destination.
Soon he also meets Adventure,
Who’s a surly living book.
Fantasy and Horror follow,
Joining Richard, and they look
For the exit of this giant,
Danger-loaded reading nook.
Escaping from such characters
As Moby Dick and Mr. Hyde,
Richard braves the fiction section,
With the EXIT as his guide.
Reaching Fantasy’s home aisle,
They must reach the other side.
As the four approach the exit,
They are ambushed by a beast,
A dragon, which ingests poor Richard,
But, by books, he is released.
Facing all his greatest fears,
Richard holds his own, at least.
Finally, they reach the exit,
At the end of their crusade.
Richard leaves the magic library,
Checking out the friends he made,
And his parents later find him
In his treehouse, unafraid.

The Pagemaster is like Balto in combining live-action and animation to show different sections of the story. In Balto, events in the past were animated, while in The Pagemaster, it is the alternate world Richard visits. Its theme of books coming to life also seems like a precursor to Inkheart. I grew up reading juvenile versions of all the classics mentioned in this film (Treasure Island, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Gulliver’s Travels, etc.), and it was one of my favorite movies growing up, because the whole thing was like an Easter egg hunt, a challenge to find as many book references as I could. It also features many hilarious lines and a great cast, including Macaulay Culkin as Richard, Christopher Lloyd as the Pagemaster/Librarian, Patrick Stewart as Adventure, Whoopi Goldberg as Fantasy, and Frank Welker as Horror. Though Richard’s timidity and dialogue are a bit over-exaggerated, the voice actors for his book friends are absolutely perfect in their roles.

The animation and effects look a little dated, and there are some inconsistencies (What happened to the giant squid? Why are 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Kidnapped not in the Adventure section? Why is the librarian acting so weird? Then again it is Christopher Lloyd.). Those not interested in classic fiction might not get as much out of it, but The Pagemaster certainly belongs on my list for the place of honor it held in my childhood.

Best line: (Adventure, trying to woo Fantasy) “How would you like to curl up with a good book?”

Artistry: 3
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 5
Visual Effects: 4
Originality: 6
Watchability: 5
TOTAL: 29 out of 60

Tomorrow: #328 – No Way Out (1987)

© 2014 S. G. Liput