Quarantine Movie Review: The Apple Dumpling Gang

I still have a subscription to Disney+. and it’s still getting regular use by my kids. MC loves being able to watch as much Frozen as her eyes can handle, and I found her doing a Cinderella marathon yesterday. (Actually watching (and enjoying!) the two direct-to-video sequels. I hope she grows out of it . . .) Daniela, meanwhile, is working her way through all the Marvel movies, and Tomas is doing the same with The Clone Wars.

I decided that the time had come for them to stop treading water at the top of the Disney catalog, however. One of the best things about Disney+ (in my book) is the fact that I have all these movies I grew up with, ready to inflict on my family at the drop of a hat. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes, they’re not nearly as good as I remembered. But there’s always something to talk about at least.

This time, I decided to show them The Apple Dumpling Gang, a movie I watched multiple times growing up. I remembered thinking it was hilarious, and I told my family as much. They eyed me with skepticism. “Really hilarious, or just ‘you used to think it was hilarious’?” Denisa asked.

“We won’t know until we’ve watched it.” (I’ve learned not to make promises I can’t keep.) “Worst case scenario, we turn it off after a half hour.”

The agreed to go along for the ride, and in the end, the whole family thoroughly enjoyed some good, clean, rated G family fun. The plot is fairly straightforward: a gambler “inherits” three children by accident and doesn’t know what to do with them. Hilarity ensues, mainly due to the herculean efforts of Don Knotts and Tim Conway, who play two bungling highway robbers who have aspirations of infamy. They get into a number of physical comedy routines which are just flat out hilarious. The whole movie is worth watching for those two alone. Great stuff.

The rest of it? Entertaining for sure. It made me reflect how easy it is to get an audience to root for your character. Make them likable and then put them in situations that are dangerous or tense. It doesn’t matter that you know those kids are being idiots for going around an abandoned mine. You know they wouldn’t know that, and so you’re really concerned what might happen.

Are the special effects good? Not at all. Is the acting solid? Not really. But it’s not that kind of movie. It’s a light throwback to an earlier time, and I still had a lot of fun with it. 7/10, but worth the time to show it to your kids. (If I’m lucky, MC will decide to watch The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again instead of Aladdin 2 . . .)


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