Posted by: Mad Ness Monster | 02/16/2011

“Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveler” review

Once upon a time, in the magical land of Canada, the film production company, Les Productions la Fête started the Tales for All series of children’s films and books.  And while I do not know what Canadian children thought about these movies, I do know that when these films started filtering into places where American children could watch them, the general consensus was, “What the hell, Canada?”

“Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveler” is not the most infamous of these films (I may get to that one later), but I seem to recall it being the one that got the most airings on The Disney Channel.  As anyone who has read the reviews in this website knows, a movie like this one could fit in the early version of The Disney Channel beautifully.

It has a premise that could only have been invented NOT by someone on powerful narcotics.  No, this movie was made by someone who is so totally out of the mainstream film-making system that it never occurs to him that his movie about a world where philately is a {enter whatever those darn kids are currently collecting here}-level worldwide obsession, where life-threateningly important letters can reliably be delivered by kites and kangaroos, and where nobody finds the sight of a stamp transforming into a human the least bit radical (radical in the “holy sh*t, seeing this happen in front of my eyes has altered my entire outlook on the universe” sense, but in the “totally radical” sense as well come to think of it) would ever be thought of as weird.  Heck, I almost feel as though these direct-to-video kids films are a whole huge untapped well of profound originality on par with Bollywood.

That said, I am going to need a shipping crate of Jake Lloyd awards for this movie.  It’s hard even to tell if the children really are that awkward and uncomfortable onscreen or if they were just written that way.  That scene early on in the stamp shop.  Yikes.  Just, yikes.

The Best Parts:
2 minutes in – This sounds like the kind of music I should be hearing in in the ICA.
3 minutes in – ANIMAL CRUELTY!!!  (We will be seeing a surprising amount of this.)
Also, you know this movie is awesome because this one kid is a skateboarder.
7 minutes in – “LOL, I enjoy hurting defenseless creatures!”
Also, there are legless lizards; the way you can tell the difference is that snakes can’t blink.
8 minutes in – OK, I have zero sympathy for Tommy Tricker.  So far he has come across as a total assclown.
16 minutes in – “And you have no respect whatsoever for other people’s property!”
18 minutes in – “My son is running around in the yard, something surely must be wrong with him!”
19 minutes in – Woah, are those moose leg bones on the door of his clubhouse?
26 minutes in – The Aforementioned Stamp Shop Scene.  Holy sh*t, this kid’s acting.
30 minutes in – Isn’t going through all this stress just so much easier for Ralph than just right away running and crying to his father about how Tommy conned him into letting him steal their most valuable stamp?
32 minutes in – “Remember, I have no respect for other people’s property.”
35 minutes in – Why do Canadian children’s films hate Asians so much?
39 minutes in – “This is absolutely fascinating.”
41 minutes in – That… that’s quite a longboard.
42 minutes in – And now, Rufus Wainwright as a lad.
44 minutes in – FRUIT CART!
46 minutes in – Oh my God, just get the damn plot started already!
(You might as well sing that, because holy sh*t, the music that really accompanies the transformation sequence…)
49 minutes in – Oh Kung-Fu Action Jesus, the suspense is f***ing destroying me right here, you don’t even know.
51 minutes in – I may have mentioned this before, but I am a freelance illustrator.  A lot of my drawings -my “babies”- have been sent out into the wide world in the form of cards, fliers, and other ephemera.  I am very likely having a reaction to this sequence of events that is different and much more visceral than you are.
Also, Nancy has quit looking for her brother (who has been transformed into a stamp and could be meeting his end in a paper shredder for all she knows) after two and a half minutes.
ALSO also, the movie has completely dropped whatever plot thread there could have been about the creepy dude who seems to know about the secret of stamp traveling, so I hope you weren’t interested in the direction that could have gone in.
57 minutes in -Big Nerd in China!  Thank you, thank you.
58 minutes in – “OMG, I am tripping my balls off!”
1 hour, 1 minute in – Oh, hey, Passion Pit!  (Hideous ear-worm warning.)
1 hour, 3 minutes in – “Thank you; you have successfully made a complete mockery of my people.”
1 hour, 5 minutes in – “Hi, there!  I rode in on a postcard using ancient and unimaginably dangerous magic!”
1 hour, 7 minutes in – And then that happened. Psy-yi-yi... duck?
1 hour, 10 minutes in –  Well, he’s not in the boat, so he’s probably in the f***ing water, genius.
1 hour, 11 minutes in – I am, like, learning so much about China right now.
1 hour, 15 minutes in – There’s some bullsh*t “rule” in the stamp traveling magic that says that once you’re a stamp and on the letter, that letter cannot be mailed away by anyone who knows you have transformed into a stamp.  (This is such a potentially dangerous complication, as demonstrated during Ralph’s first attempt, that one wonders why you’d bother with the magic at all.)  Seems to me all Ralph has to do to work around this is put his target letter in the mailbox at home, then just wait for the mailperson to come pick him up.
But by all means, use the incredibly convoluted plan that involves kites and impossibly accurate targeting.
1 hour, 18 minutes in – “It’s a demon!  Beat it to death with iron!”
1 hour, 21 minutes in – Well, there’s a downer.
1 hour, 24 minutes in – Aw, it’ just like Life, the Universe, and Everything!
1 hour, 29 minutes in – Endangered Species Harassment!
I am also, like, totally learning so much about Australia.
1 hour, 31 minutes in – Further Endangered Species Harassment
And… … … Are you God damn kidding me, movie?  Yoram Gross wouldn’t have even done this.
1 hour, 32 minutes in – Have they not noticed that Ralph and Tommy were missing for days?
Also… these two teenage boys have brought back a *lot* of koala plushies.  I’m just sayin’.
1 hour, 36 minutes in – OK, so Ralph’s mom and dad have just learned that dad’s most valuable stamp is actually a trapped stamp traveler.  Essentially, this person is suffering an “And I Must Scream” situation that they could very very easily free him from.  And they argue for several minutes over whether they should save him (until Tommy takes matters into his own hands and the end credits assure us that he freed the traveler himself).  Wow.
1 hour, 38 minutes in – Oh, and now you can suddenly turn stamps (ones that started out as stamps) into real people.  In the very last shot of the movie.  Ayup.

Classic Quotes:
“Wow, Tommy, those are pretty!” – Cass
“Hey, buddy!  What nice little lickers!” – Cass
“I HAVE TO MAIL IT!!!” – Irredeemably Annoying Little Girl Child Actress (ah, see, know you remember this movie)
“You see all these kangaroos?  They’re all LIARS!  That’s why you’re stuck in here with ’em!” – Mad Mike

Things I Learned from this Movie:
* – China is a Magical Land.
* – Australia is the Lost World.
* – Stamp collecting is Serious Effing Business.
* – People are extremely unimpressed by the sight of a stamp transforming into a person.

Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures?
Cute, but harassed, Australian animals
Good Soundtrack? The addition of Rufus Wainwright just makes the proceedings that much more surreal.
Hot Guys? No.
Pretty Scenery? Most of the budget had to have been spent on the “around the world” scenes.  And all the old stamps, of course.
Nifty Animation/Effects/Art Direction? The rotoscoping is… what it is.

Drinking Game Potential? Drink when the characters should be at least a little interested in what is happening around them and aren’t
Head Movie Potential? Like woah.

Rating: Danny rating (2)
Danny getting way too excited about this year’s new Duck Stamps.  (Well, they are very pretty.  And the Hooded Merganser is one of my favorite ducks, so it’s nice to see them represent.)

A Tales For All Film, also known as “Tales For All #7” and “Les Aventuriers du Timbre Perdu”, released in 1988 by Les Productions la Fête. Written and directed by Michael Rubbo.
Lucas Evans, Anthony Rogers, Jill Stanley… and Rufus Wainwright?!
Related Links
IMDB page
Wikipedia page



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