A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is some slapstick violence in the two stories in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. More extreme is the Headless Horseman's multiple attempts to behead Ichabod Crane with a sword. The horseman is never actually revealed to be the town bully in disguise, so some kids may find him quite terrifying. Characters smoke cigars and pipes. Cartoon weasels are shown passed-out drunk, with bottles and mugs by their sides. Characters hoist mugs of beer into the air before drinking.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD offers animated adaptations of two children's literature classics: Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows and Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In the first tale, Thaddeus Toad, adventure-loving master of Toad Hall, becomes enamored of a shining motorcar and falls afoul of a group of scheming weasels. Friends Rat, Mole, and Badger try to save Toad from himself and from losing Toad Hall. The second story is set in a colonial New York village, where gangly schoolteacher Ichabod Crane and roughneck Brom Bones vie for the hand of heiress Katrina Van Tassel. Just when it seems that Ichabod has won with his refined grace, Brom plays on his rival's superstitious nature with a Halloween tale of the headless horseman, a legend that terrifies Ichabod on a long nighttime ride home.
Is it any good?
Often overlooked even by Disney fans, this Disney double-feature is classic animation at its best and features Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby as narrators. With a cozy Edwardian setting, a dollop of slapstick violence, and a variety of British stereotypes, the tale of Mr. Toad is an endearing foray into Merrie Olde England.
The American tale is a bit more ambitious and not without its drawbacks. Some of the animation and design in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad owe as much to Van Gogh as to Disney's own Fantasia. With his long limbs and oversize ears and nose, Ichabod Crane is certainly a memorable creation; Katrina and Brom Bones seem dull by comparison. The climactic sequence of Ichabod and the pumpkin-headed horseman is truly gripping, making it too intense for younger or more sensitive children. The Bing Crosby songs that pad it out are by far the weakest part of this otherwise first-rate tale.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dated stereotypes of the "coquettish" woman and strutting men who compete to "win" her in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
Families also may wish to read and discuss the book The Wind in the Willows, from which Mr. Toad's story is drawn, and Washington Irving's classic tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. How do the stories change between the book and the screen?
How is bullying shown in this movie? Think about when Brom Bones mocks Ichabod Crane's appearance.
- In theaters: October 5, 1949
- On DVD or streaming: October 3, 2000
- Cast: Basil Rathbone, Bing Crosby, Eric Blore
- Director: James Algar
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 68 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: November 29, 2019
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