Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Incredible Ride (1994)

My mother is a dental hygienist, and when I was a kid, every now and then she would bring home weird cartoons about good dental health from the office where she worked. These tapes were mini-movies, where some kid usually learns about why he should brush his teeth three times a day, while gross toothpaste monsters with red sunglasses jam on tooth-brush guitars and fly around. I specifically remember four of these tapes, but alas, only this one survives.

The Incredible Ride begins with a live action segment filmed at a carnival. Various rides-in-motion are cut intro shots of our kids: Dana (Black), Steve (Asian), Tony (Latino) David (WASP) and our clumsy narrator, Sylvia, a nerdy girl with huge glasses. Each kid finds a way to awkwardly smile wide enough so that we can notice their perfect teeth (this is the part where the Dentist pauses the tape and tells the kid, “This is what healthy teeth look like.”). As soon as our characters are established, the story kicks in, as Sylvia notices a giant animated rabbit dentist (“Dr. Rabbit”) sneaking around. The kids aren’t a bit surprised, and run after the rabbit into a weird circus tent. As they enter, each kid turns into a cartoon character, and falls into some weird alternate dental universe, where Dr. Rabbit hangs out. The kids ride for a few seconds on a weird trolley (the “incredible” ride?) The Doc immediately sings a song about himself, and lets the kids chime in when they feel like it. David—in a ridiculous falsetto—contributes this: “I brush once a weeeeeek, is that okaaaaaaay?” About four seconds later, David gets kidnapped by plaque monsters, who appear out of the very fabric of space to nab him behind Dr. Rabbit’s back. No one seems to mind too much, however, and Doc Rabbit breaks out into a wonderful song called “Brush, Brush, Brush” (the chorus is “brush, brush, brush”). They then sing the song a second time.

At this point the tape malfunctioned, and my VCR nearly ate it. So there’s a part about floss and “acid monsters” I missed. When I got the tape working again, Dr. Rabbit had left the kids to their own devices, presumably to check up on some other interesting things, Gandalf-style. Suddenly the kids fall out of cartoon reality and back into the carnival, as an echo-drenched voice-from-nowhere calls out: “Visit a dentist… every yeeeeeeeear!” And David is back, I guess. A teacher shows up, who apparently didn’t worry too much when half her class disappeared for who-knows-how-long. Cue shots of teeth (including the mugs of some kids we haven’t seen before). Sylvia: “And that’s what happened the day we went to the amusement park. Was it real or a dream? Who knows? All I know is that David’s smile has never been so beautiful [ooooh!]. In fact, we all smile a lot more, because our teeth are clean and healthy! Oh, and whatever happened to Dr. Rabbit? We never saw him again [cut to a shot of Doc Rabbit waving goodbye from the weird circus tent], but his words are still very much in our heads [apparently not in their hearts however].” Closing The Incredible Ride is the moving ballad, “Protect Your Teeth.” The chorus: “Protect your teeth, because it’s true.” What? Best line: a kid flatly emoting “Make sure your toothpaste has flouriiiiiiiide.”

Well, I guess this flick was financed by Colgate, but isn’t as much of a commercial as the other tapes I remember, which specifically emphasize the superior quality of Crest’s products and attempt to create brand loyalty with their rockin’ and rollin’ toothpaste mascots. The weirdest tape I remember is about a Giraffe, and features hilariously bad animation, especially when characters have to run or jump. I also remember disgusting shots of hippos with gingivitis. I think the doctor in that one is an Alligator, who might try to eat some of the characters as he educates them about good dental practice. Both this movie and the Crest tapes are relatively long too, running about one half hour, usually with supplemental material (“for parents”). The Incredible Ride clocks in at a trim fifteen minutes, perfect for a waiting room viewing.

It may be unfair to judge the artistic merits of a tape made specifically to encourage kids to brush their teeth, but I’ll try anyway. The animation is actually pretty consistent and interesting, certainly compared to the other tapes I’ve mentioned. The voice-over is terrible, but I guess getting real kids to voice cartoons is always preferable to the kind of overly-emotive voice-acting you hear on Cartoon Network all the time. The songs are pretty lame and inconsequential, but they never last for more than 30 seconds, so they’re pretty painless. Honestly, I have no idea how to rate this. But I’m in a good mood and watching The Incredible Ride made me feel nostalgic. Also, I’m having fun writing this review. Three alternate reality stars.


Ozzie Alfonso said...


A few details on "The Incredible Ride." It was written and directed by me - Ozzie Alfonso. The lyrics were written by Tish Rabe. The cell animation was done in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The live action segments in the amusement park were taped in Santa Rosa, California. The entire package was produced by Terra Associates for MHL Productions which, in turn, produced it for Colgate-Palmolive. The other video we produced for Colgate was titled "The Wiggly Tooth", and it was intended for a younger audience.

Ozzie Alfonso said...

Oh, and by the way - thank you for all the kind words. I'm very glad you liked it. Our off-air work rarely gets reviewed, much less rave reviews like yours (or nearly rave, anyway.) I wish I could remember the names of the actors, but I don't. The concept of a trip into an "alternate reality" was the second pitch I came up with. The first was really dark and foreboding. I loved it.


Endless Greg said...

Hello! I'm surprised you found your way to this review. Nice to hear from you. TIR is short and instructional, but still manages to have its own charm. I liked it as a lad and I like it now.

Colgate Fan said...

Do you have the DVD? I want ti so bad!!!!

Guest said...

WOW, I can remember watching this when I was a kid in school! Where can I find this movie?!

Gregory Joseph said...

I got mine from a family member who worked at a Dentist's office. Check eBay?