1. Thumbelina is the romantic story of a girl who is born fully clothed and post-pubescent in a flower.
Born fully clothed with boobs? No, this isn’t weird at all.
2. The woman who watered that flower is very excited and names the girl Thumbelina since she’s the size of her thumb.
We’re never told the old woman’s name, but presumably it is “Cabinetina,” since she comes from a culture where you name people after the things they are as tall as.
3. But before we meet Thumbelina, the bird narrator tells us that this is a love story, like Samson and Delilah or Romeo and Juliet.
Delilah betrays Samson and he ends up a prisoner-slave, while Romeo and Juliet end up dead. To be fair, it’s wholly possible that the bird can’t read.
4. This movie’s attempts to be heartwarming are horrifying. First of all, Thumbelina hangs out with farm animals. Potentially hungry farm animals.
That appears to be a goose to her left. Granted, I just learned that the snow goose diet is entirely vegetarian, but I am still afraid for Thumbelina. She’s so small, she could pass for a grain.
5. Because of a strong gust of goat breath, Thumbelina almost drowns.
6. She’s only saved because a cow happened to be paying attention when she fell.
7. The animals don’t learn their lesson and they breathe on her really hard again.
They’re breathing with a vengeance. It’s a wonder she can stay on her feet at all.
9. Then, she almost gets baked into a pie.
Danger is already everywhere, and this is just the cheerful opening dance number.
10. Thumbelina could easily be squashed between the pages of a book.
“I suppose it works best if two people are about the same size,” Thumbelina tells Cabinetina about LOVE, evoking some disturbing images of what she thought her love life would be like before. (I am cringing.)
“I wish I were big,” she adds, curled up in the calligraphied O in a book.
11. She is obviously a teenager, but her mother Cabinetina makes her sleep in a walnut in a cradle.
12. She also deprives Thumbelina of pajamas and makes her sleep in the shoes she was born in.
Come on, Cabinetina!
13. Soon, we meet the fairy prince, whose parents reinforce gender norms.
Yes, I am going to contend that this is terrifying. The king says their son’s white butterfly “doesn’t quite make the right impression on the young ladies.” Fairies, I really thought you would be above machismo.
14. For the love story meet-cute, the fairy prince breaks into Thumbelina’s room, vandalizes her book, and brandishes a weapon at her.
Too good for knocking, eh, prince?
15. After he introduces himself as Cornelius, Thumbelina figures it’s OK to get onto a bumblebee with this guy who, to refresh, just broke into her room and waved a sword at her.
What could go wrong, Thumbelina?
16. Cornelius flies around, holding wingless little Thumbelina, until he accidentally lets her fall literally as he’s saying, “And I’ll never let you fall.”
The dude is the worst boyfriend.
17. Cornelius puts a ring on her left ring finger and asks her if she’ll meet his parents. They met less than an hour ago. This doesn’t faze her.
Sure, GUY WHO ALMOST LET ME FALL TO MY DOOM.
18. Despite the earlier breaking and entering, Thumbelina doesn’t bother to close her window at night, and she gets kidnapped by a lady toad.
A lady toad voiced by Charo.
19. After she wakes up (somehow she manages to sleep even after being kidnapped in a walnut?), her kidnapper forces her to dance.
Thumbelina has fast-acting Stockholm syndrome and gets pretty friendly with the toad family pretty quickly.
20. The male toad, who wants to marry her, is a racist caricature of a lecherous Latin man.
21. After they tell her she’s going to marry a toad, they abandon tiny little Thumbelina on a lily pad. But she can’t swim! She’s trapped!
“Doesn’t anybody care what I think?!” she screams.
22. Jacquimo, our bird narrator, inserts himself into the story at this point and decides to free Thumbelina from the lily pad by snapping its stem, which sends her drifting toward a waterfall.
This is why you should never trust a swallow in boots.
Jacquimo then tells Thumbelina she should find her own way home while he looks for the prince. Thumbelina could fit on a bumblebee, but this goddamn swallow doesn’t have the decency to give her a lift home before he jets off? Monster.
23. A guy called Mr. Beetle comes out of NOWHERE.
The heartbreaking part is that she was so close to her house that she would have been able to see it if she weren’t so much shorter than all the grass around her.
24. He does creepy things, like rub mushrooms and caress Thumbelina’s face with his antennae and kiss her arm even though she says, “I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
25. Then, he kidnaps her, because that’s what everyone seems to do!
26. The creepy beetle makes her dress up like a bug and dance in this bug club full of scary bugs.
Because of her fast-acting Stockholm syndrome, Thumbelina seems pretty happy about it. Mr. Beetle, who’s voiced by Gilbert Gottfried, sings, “You’re beautiful, baby!” She’s (we think) 16!
28. But Thumbelina is more upset about being called ugly by bugs than she is about the other public humiliations.
29. After the beetles cast her out, Jacquimo finds her alone, crying. “I’m cold, I’m lost, and I’m hungry. And the beetle says I’m ugly.”
Nothing more terrifying than a girl who thinks being ugly is on par with dying of exposure.
30. Thumbelina snuggles up with the swallow, because she can tell he’s the only male animal who doesn’t want to sleep with her.
In the morning, Jacquimo is going to send her on her way again, because it still hasn’t occurred to him that maybe he should get this accident- and kidnap-prone girl home before he finds her boyfriend.
31. While he’s frantically searching for Thumbelina, Prince Cornelius falls into some water and it freezes over him.
32. Winter is in full force, and Thumbelina seeks refuge in an old shoe, hiding under a sock. And, because of its proximity to the shoe, we can assume it is a used sock.
The things you’ve been through, girl.
33. Then, for the second time in this movie, Thumbelina wakes up not knowing where she is.
This time, she’s in a field mouse’s house. And the field mouse (voiced by Carol Channing) tells Thumbelina it’s too bad about Prince Cornelius. Thumbelina asks what she’s talking about, and the mouse callously says, “He was found stone-cold frozen dead in the snow.”
Thumbelina knows immediately that he was looking for her when it happened. The guilt must be overwhelming.
34. Even though Thumbelina just found out her boyfriend was found frozen, the field mouse gives her attitude when Thumbelina doesn’t want to socialize.
“I saved your life this very day and you’d rather not?” says the field mouse. Dick move.
35. Ms. Field Mouse takes Thumbelina to see Mr. Mole, who makes her sing and shit-talks sunlight.
You can tell Mr. Mole (John Hurt!) is a real evil dude because he has that frilled collar and his motto is: “What’s mined is mine.” Clearly, he’s one of those evil rich Plutonians.
36. Thumbelina knows bugs as her friends, but Mr. Mole keeps their dead bodies pinned to his wall.
37. Because he’s a creep, Mr. Mole takes his guests on a field trip to see the bird corpse in his tunnel. It turns out to be Jacquimo!
Thumbelina realizes his heart is actually beating, but for some reason she says, “I’ll come back tonight.” Your buddy is dying and you can’t attend immediately to his needs? Really?
38. Romeo and Juliet comes up again in a terrifying song by Ms. Field Mouse.
While encouraging Thumbelina to marry the mole because “love won’t pay the mortgage” (true enough, mouse), she sings, “Romeo and Juliet were very much in love when they were wed. They honored every vow, so where are they now? They’re dead. Dead. Very, very dead.”
39. Soon enough, they force Thumbelina to wear a hideous wedding dress.
She looks so happy, right?
40. As she walks down the aisle, she announces that she doesn’t want to marry the mole after all, and she flees across a treacherously narrow walkway over a treacherously cavernous hole. Then, everyone in the church chases her.
41. Prince Cornelius sees all this, but instead of picking up Thumbelina and flying away, he decides to fight the toad, who grimaces terribly.
42. Jacquimo, who is magically healed, finally realizes that he should fly Thumbelina somewhere, so he brings her to the fairy headquarters, where Cornelius shows up. Of course, they get engaged.
Terrifying epilogue: These teenagers will likely have to raise a teenager that emerges pubescent from a flower. Dumb kids.
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