A seven-hour epic miniseries now released on DVD (and that's with the commercials cut out), The 10th Kingdom is a hit-and-miss affair. Through a pure contrivance, we find our heroes, the lovely Kimberly Williams and John Larroquette, playing her father, whisked into "the nine kingdoms," an amalgam of fairy tales all rolled up into one crazy place. They are simply trying to escape back to New York -- but if they save the kingdom along the way, all the better.
Here, Williams and Larroquette encounter characters from just about every fairy tale written -- or their progeny. Of course, there's a wicked queen (Dianne Wiest), as well as the grandson (Daniel Lapaine) of Snow White (who's been turned into a dog), Bo Peep, Old King Cole, Cinderella, trolls, dwarves, beanstalks, wishes, fairies, and the central fantasy character -- the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, only now he's in human form and trying to do good. (He's played with admirably addled schizophrenia by Scott Cohen.)
Williams and Cohen are a lot of fun, and the hours roll by quite painlessly. I can imagine kids would eat The 10th Kingdom up, but since all we have here is a cat, I can only comment that she slept through the whole thing. Old fairy tales and riddles get some clever updating -- my favorite being the one about the two doors, one leading to safety and one to death, and the guardian who always lies. There's even plenty of adult humor, some of it unintended (Camryn Manheim as Snow White, eh?). Larroquette is an unfortunate casting choice. 30 minutes of Night Court has always been my limit on the guy. 417 minutes is too much of his abrasive attitude to handle.
Oddly, the production of the disc itself is strange and, to be honest, cheap -- belying the production values of the miniseries. In a crummy cardboard case, the movie comes on two discs -- one flipper disc and one single-sided. A paper insert (attached to nothing) contains the chapter index. Then again, I guess it is only $14.98... that's only $2 per hour!
Run time: 417 mins
In Theaters: Sunday 27th February 2000
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
IMDB: 8.4 / 10
Screenwriter: Simon Moore
Starring: Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Virginia Lewis, Scott Cohen as Wolf, John Larroquette as Tony Lewis, Dianne Wiest as Queen, Ed O'Neill as Relish the Troll King, Camryn Manheim as Snow White, Rutger Hauer as Huntsman
Also starring: Kimberly Williams, Ann-Margret, Ed O'Neill, Dawnn Lewis, Daniel Lapaine, Jeremiah Birkett, Warwick Davis, Kim Thomson, Lucy Whybrow, Christopher Crooks, Brian Eastman, Simon Moore, Jane Prowse