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"Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme" Was The Most Cracktastic Kids' Movie Of The '90s

The Disney Channel movie starred Shelley Duvall as Little Bo Peep traveling through nursery rhymes. Like many '90s kids' movies, it was equal parts fun and horrifying.

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On May 19, 1990, the Disney Channel aired the most bizarro nursery rhyme mash-up of all time.


Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme was a star-studded musical adventure that combined '80s star power with '90s weirdness. For those of us who grew up watching it, it was a formative experience.

Jean Stapleton played Mother Goose, whose sudden disappearance spurs her son into action.


She's basically Edith from All in the Family if Archie had never crushed her spirit.

Mother Goose's son Gordon Goose (I know) is a total square who doesn't get the whole nursery rhyme thing.


He's played by Dan Gilroy, whose only IMDb credits are this movie and an episode of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, also starring Jean Stapleton.

Then, Mother Goose's nursery rhymes spring to life as "rhymies."


Here is Wee Willie Winkie strangling Gordon. Why is he strangling him? For the same reason he's an Oompa Loompa. It was 1990, and that's just the way we did things.

We're supposed to think Gordon is lame for not loving Rhymeland, but in his defense, Rhymeland is TERRIFYING.


Everyone is singing and dancing. Pop star cameos abound. The clouds are cotton balls. WHAT IS THIS MADNESS.

Enter Shelley Duvall as Little Bo Beep.


Here's the thing about Shelley Duvall. At some point, she decided she was going to be a children's entertainer, with series like Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre and Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories. The problem: Shelley Duvall is HORRIFYING. Maybe it's The Shining. Maybe it's her voice. Either way, children should never have been exposed to her uniquely unsettling persona.

Gordon and Bo Peep soon discover that Mother Goose is missing, and there are signs of a struggle!


She would never leave her pet goose Honker behind! Get ready for an unexpected crossover with Law & Order: SVU.

The next nursery rhyme character we meet is the Itsy Bitsy Spider, played by Broadway star Ben Vereen.


He's very shrill and dressed like a misguided Spider-Man reboot. Then he, too, disappears — and you realize we've got a serial killer on our hands. (Not quite. But as a kid, this was very stressful!)

The Three Men guide Gordon and Bo Peep to Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, who is predictably difficult.

On the way to their next stop, Gordon and Bo Peep grab some fast food at Old Mother Hubbard's.


Comedian Elayne Boosler plays Old Mother Hubbard. The kids love Elayne Boosler.

Here's where things get REALLY strange. Meet Mary and Lou the Lamb.


They're basically an unhappily married couple living in a dilapidated trailer home. Mary had that little lamb all right. (Gross.) She is, of course, played by Cyndi Lauper. Recognize the surly lamb?

Anyway, Gordon and Bo Peep come to suspect that Peter Piper kidnapped Mother Goose, because look at him.


That's Night Court's Harry Anderson doing his best Alfalfa from Little Rascals. Peter Piper is the stuff of annoyingly alliterative nightmares.

Peter Piper leads them to the Crooked Man, who wrote a ransom note for Mother Goose but didn't actually kidnap her.


The Crooked Man recalls Oliver Twist's Fagin, in that he is basically a caricature from 1930s anti-Jewish propaganda in Germany. It's more than a little disturbing. His giant anthropomorphic dog is troublesome for different reasons.

And onto Jack and Jill, played by Garry Shandling and Teri Garr.


Jack and Jill are a very complicated couple whose banter sounds like something out of a lesser Woody Allen movie. I would watch a spin-off just about Jack and Jill, even if it meant having to stare at those truly upsetting wigs.

And then it's like everyone does a lot of acid.


Though I suppose this whole movie was conceived on substances. Either way, this is clearly a bad trip, because Gordon ends up in a dungeon with a weird BDSM metal band playing. Scream, Gordon. No one can hear you.

They just want to make him merry! But also they are tickle fetishists.


OK, so real talk: As a child, I hated being tickled. Hated. And everyone is always like, "You're laughing! You like it!" NO. I don't think I ever managed to make it through this scene without squirming.

Humpty falls, like he does, but he KEEPS ON TALKING.


You know when Bishop keeps talking to Ripley after he's been ripped apart in Aliens? Like that, but worse because it's Howie Mandel.

They head inside to Georgie Porgie's, a bar that makes the Mos Eisley Cantina look tame.


Note the aforementioned anthropomorphic dog making his move on a ghastly woman at the bar.

I guess I should note that Art Garfunkel plays Georgie Porgie and his house band is led by Brian Setzer, but I can't get past all the ghoulish barflies.

Nearing the end of their journey, Gordon and Bo Peep pick up a hitchhiker, Paul "Simple" Simon.


Yes, both Simon and Garfunkel live in Rhymeland now. But Simple is so simple he can't remember where he's going or why. It's kind of tragic, really. And then he disappears.

With Simon gone, Gordon FINALLY ends the will-they-or-won't-they tension with Bo Peep.


But just then, Mother Goose shows up in the moon! As a kid, I couldn't grasp the horror of having your hookup interrupted by your mom, but in retrospect, this definitely scarred me.

Turns out Mother Goose is trapped in the Real World.


That's right, she's one of seven strangers, picked to live in a house — OK, no, she's just in our world, which is a far cry from the candy-colored fantasy that is Rhymeland. And she can't last much longer!

For reasons unclear to me, the duo put off saving Mother Goose to hit up the local fair, where Cheech Marin is working as a carnival barker.

But the fair has a purpose: Bo Peep and Gordon snag a ride on the Cow That Jumped Over the Moon, who will take them to Mother Goose.



Guys, what if we're all just characters in a kid's book? What if! Really makes you think. Anyway, this kid's name is Michael, and he has great taste in pajamas. He was played by Brian Bonsall, who was also Preston Waters in Blank Check and Andy Keaton on Family Ties and has since had some substance and legal troubles.

Luckily, Michael has a heart and he returns the nursery rhyme characters to his book, thereby saving Rhymeland.

After his adventures, Gordon learns to loosen up and love Rhymeland.


Quick reminder: Gordon was right to hate Rhymeland. Rhymeland is a terrible place. But whatever, to each his own. And his new bow tie is pretty fetching.

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