Blu-ray review: ‘The Incredible Mr. Limpet’
While Don Knotts himself often seemed like a living, breathing cartoon character, the scrawny, beloved character actor scored one of the most underappreciated works of his career in the hybrid live-action/animated family movie “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” which now gets a glossy polish in a new Blu-ray edition.
The film was released in 1964, when Knotts was in the midst of his popular run on TV’s “The Andy Griffith Show” but had yet to establish his bluff, jittery nerd persona on the big screen (later would come “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” “The Reluctant Astronaut,” “The Shakiest Gun in the West” and so on).
“Mr. Limpet” came out just as Warner Bros. was shutting down its animation operation, but the studio still managed to attract a top-flight crew of animators such as Bill Tytla, Hawley Pratt, Robert McKimson, Maurice Noble and others. Knotts appears as a live character in only about 20 minutes of action, and then provides the voice for an animated alter ego – a nervous, bespectacled fish.
The story features Knotts as mild-mannered bookkeeper Henry Limpet, who as World War II begins tries to join the U.S. Navy. But the weak-eyed Henry is rejected as 4F. Henry escapes ridicule and the annoyed stares of his put-upon wife, Bessie (Carole Cook), by obsessing over his elaborate aquarium. If the forlorn Henry could have one wish, it would be to become a fish himself.
And without much logic or buildup, that magical transformation happens. Presto-chango! Henry’s a cartoon fish, complete with thick reading glasses. He disappears from his human life and forges new friendships in the briny deep with the sexy Ladyfish and Crabby the hermit crab.
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