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Once Upon a Mattress (2005)

Carol Burnett , Tracey Ullman , Kathleen Marshall  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Carol Burnett, Tracey Ullman, Denis O'Hare, Tom Smothers, Matthew Morrison
  • Directors: Kathleen Marshall
  • Writers: Teleplay By Janet Brownell, Based On The Broadway Musical By Marshall Louis Ba
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment / Disney
  • DVD Release Date: December 20, 2005
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,116 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Once Upon a Mattress" on IMDb

Special Features

Making Of ONCE UPON A MATTRESS -- Go behind the scenes with the director and cast to learn about the costumes, the characters, and the Broadway connection.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An all-star cast brings the classic fairy tale THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA to life in this outrageously funny adaptation of the aclaimed Broadway musical. Queen Aggravain (Carol Burnett) sabotages the efforts of every young princess who hopes to marry her son, Prince Dauntless (Denis O'Hare) -- and no one else can settle down until he does! Honorable Sir Harry is determined to marry the lovely Lady Larken (Zooey Deschanel), so he sets off for faraway lands and returns with an unlikely candidate: Princess Winnifred from the swamps (Tracey Ullman). It's love at first sight for the Prince, so the Queen sets about planning her most difficult challenge yet. The palace is filled with merriment and mischief while everyone wonders, will Princess "Fred" pass the Queen's test?

The playful 2004 television version of Once Upon a Mattress brings everything full circle for Carol Burnett, who played klutzy Princess Winnifred, would-be fiancee of royal mama's boy Prince Dauntless, in the original 1959 Broadway cast production of the musical (as well as 1964 and 1972 television adaptations). In the new show, Burnett now essays the role of Dauntless's control-freak mom, Queen Aggravain, and is very funny in the part. An Oedipal nightmare, Aggravain is in no hurry to let the prince act his adult age, chasing off prospective wives (and queens-in-training) by putting them through unbeatable tests. Along comes Winnifred (Tracey Ullman, who manages the physically demanding role quite nicely), who turns the kingdom on its head with her goofy charm, sets Dauntless's heart aflame, and poses a serious threat to Aggravain's plans. The fun supporting cast in this tuneful take on "The Princess and the Pea" includes Tom Smothers as King Sextimus, the mute monarch who manages to impart wisdom, Zooey Deschanel as pregnant Lady Larken, who helps bring Winnifred to the castle, and Denis O'Hare (21 Grams) as the boyish Dauntless. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why? But I'm Glad... June 15, 2006
My first question is Why? Why bother going to such expense and effort to bring this old chestnut to the screen (TV, that is)? It was never a GREAT musical to begin with. But on the other hand, I'm glad they did, because, as a former musical director, I have conducted and played this show several times. The last time was over 30 years ago, so it was wonderful to see and hear it again after all this time.

There have been complaints that the songs aren't memorable. (One reviewed didn't like them so he/she fast-forwarded through them. That's a wonderful way to get to know a song!) The songs are indeed memorable, and quite tuneful. Mary Rodgers, Richard's daughter, did a wonderful job...better, in fact, than her father was doing about that time. And the lyrics are very clever. "Sensitivity" in 5/4 time is a tour-de-force of writing and performing. I was sorry they cut "Very Soft Shoes," the jester's song. And "An Opening for a Princess." I missed that, too.

The casting was either good or inspired...mostly. Matthew Morrison and Zooey Deschanel as the young lovers are rather wimpy, to the point of who care if they get married or split or what. But just about everyone else was magnificent. The jester (Michael Boatman) was too good to have had "Very Soft Shoes" taken from him. Tom Smothers, a real treat, was wonderful to watch. His pantomime and facial expressions were delightful. Denis O'Hare grew on me. Not being a TV freak, I wasn't familiar with him. Tracey Ullman was fine, if a little long in the tooth for the part. (Then again, one of the productions of the show I did starred Imogene Coca in the part, and she was in her 60s then!) As for Carol Burnett, she was fantastic, totally over the top! She graduated from the princess to the queen perfectly.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LESS THAN REGAL BUT WINNING JUST THE SAME December 18, 2005
Just watched this on the TV special ahead of the release of the DVD and while the show was entertaining it had some short-comings principally in dropping numbers such as "Yesterday I Loved You" which was sung by the young lovers. In its place they sang a shortened version of "Normandy" which was not their number in the first place. "Very Soft Shoes" a minor show-stopper for the jester was missed and "Many Moons Ago" and "An Opening for a Princess" were reduced to bits. The score that was retained was edited but the songs still entertain. The cast was well chosen and Tracy Ullman was brave taking on a role forever identified as Carol Burnetts' who camped it up in high style as wicked Queen Aggravain for this special. Tracy was good and funny but her singing lacked the lung power of Carol Burnett especially the way Ms Burnett belted out "Happily Ever After" and "Shy" Denis O'Hare made an appropriate woe-be-gone Prince Dauntless and Matthew Morrison sang well as Sir Harry. If this show had been made for HBO maybe they could have retained the entire show instead of being constrained by the endless parade of commercials on network Tv. As is the show was still a lot of fun and the funniest line came when Lady Larkin tells Sir Harry she is expecting his baby and Sir Harry replies, "You can't be blamed you had a moment of weakness"
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Princess Shy December 23, 2005
This production of Once Upon a Mattress makes you wonder why Tracey Ullman hasn't been on Broadway until now. She makes the show, in spite of the fact that the role is for a younger woman. For that matter, why aren't there more musical roles for women over forty? The only one I can think of is Mamma Mia. Judging by the popularity of Mamma Mia, it seems as if there is a considerable audience for such shows.

The DVD version of Once Upon a Mattress is fun to watch, but I can't help thinking that I might have been disappointed if I'd paid Broadway prices for a ticket. The only memorable number in the show was Ullman's opening tune "I'm Shy." On the other hand, the DVD includes a few extra features that you may enjoy. There's a short about the 1959 production that starred Carol Burnett as Princess Winifred, as well as two split-screen musical numbers comparing the rehearsals with the full-dress version.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why change a good thing? January 4, 2006
Overall, I thought this revamped version of Once Upon a Mattress was good, but not great.

Tracey Ullman was wonderful and fantastically funny as Winnifred as was Carol Burnett as Aggravain.

What bothered me was the rewriting of a great show. It was obvious the show was cut to pieces for two reasons: To give Carol Burnett a larger role and to make sure the show ran within a two hour time slot. This took many good songs out, shifted the focus of the show to only Aggravain and Winnifred and also took out a lot of charm with it. Gone is the role of the Minstrel and the fun trio of the Jester, Minstrel and King Sextimus. Gone are great songs "Many Moons Ago", "Opening for a Princess", "Yesterday I Loved You", "Very Soft Shoes" and a complete "Normandy".

While I can understand minor rewrites and cuts for TV version, I think this show was cut to the point that it suffered greatly from the original version.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a Question of Stack-Up (POSSIBLE SPOILERS) December 19, 2005
For me, any review of "Once Upon a Mattress" is a matter of how it stacks up to previous versions. "Mattress" was the second musical I ever saw performed on stage when I was a kid. In my twenties, I played Sextimus. I saw the 1972 version on TV (and recently acquired a copy; it doesn't age well) and found the 1964 TV version on eBay -- that is the best version, with an unexpected song and dance routine from Elliott Gould, who is light on his feet and sounds like an American Anthony Newley.

This new version, to use my wife's assessment, is too Disneyfied. It's just OK when it could have been fabulous. It's polite when it should be raucous. Too many gags are blown because they toned down the delivery for film. Also, the secondary parts have been reduced to almost nothing. The Jester's role is so slivered that I wonder why he's in the film.

Tracey Ullman: Very good as Winnifred, but held back. Her British accent in the part is fine, since it establishes her as a foreigner in the kingdom. And she IS supposed to come from a marshland swamp in a northern kingdom.

Dennis O'Hare: Good acting as Dauntless, sloppy diction when singing.

Carol Burnett: Here's the main problem -- she's excellent (especially with the new song written for this version), but restrained. Aggravain is written to be bombastic and overpowering.

Tom Smothers: Very good as the King, but again, this is a part that has been played by Buster Keaton. It was written as basically being a medieval Harpo Marx. All of the girl-chasing has been excised. He's very mellow and charming, but mellow doesn't do it for me with this part. He was fine for "Man to Man Talk". Smothers was as wonderful as he was allowed to be by the director.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Good Old Days, but Nice
When I ordered this, I saw 'Carol Burnett' and thought it was the original B&W TV production. Apparently that's not available. Read more
Published 7 hours ago by Fred Opalinski
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
cute for a fairy tale.
Published 3 days ago by Kristalyn Blazzard
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute!
Very cute show! My daughter and I loved it.
Published 6 days ago by C. Chrien
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
The only true "Fred" princess is played by Carol Burnett. Not as endearing as the original play on Broadway.
Published 8 days ago by DJP Eckes
1.0 out of 5 stars Once Upon a Wet Blanket
UGH! skip it. Platitudes and weakish songs. Just too sad to see Carol as the queen rather than Fred. And so....dumped and dumbed down style....ugh ugh ugh. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Cynthia Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 27 days ago by Sha
1.0 out of 5 stars I so badly wanted to enjoy this. The cast should have made this a ...
I so badly wanted to enjoy this. The cast should have made this a home run but for some reason I hated almost every second of it! Such a disappointment!
Published 1 month ago by J. M. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Grandkids loved it. So did I.
Published 1 month ago by Josephine D. Croucher
1.0 out of 5 stars i know the movie and i know thats its a ...
i know the movie and i know thats its a wonderfull movie, but in the shop it didnt mention that it was region coded for USA, so ist inpossible to play the DVD in Europe..
Published 2 months ago by Karting
5.0 out of 5 stars He was so excited and loved it. Thank-you
It was a gift to a friend of mine's son who starred in a local version of "Once Upon a Mattress".
He was so excited and loved it. Thank-you, Marcia Ulan
Published 2 months ago by Mulan
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