THE KING AND I
Like Bluth, Richard Rich is a Disney expat he co-directed both The Fox and the Hound (1981) and The Black Cauldron (1985) then broke away to start his own animation studio. Richard Richs previous work has been mostly made-for-video adaptations of Bible stories Joseph in Egypt (1992), Abraham and Isaac (1992) and Moses (1993) but Rich had a breakthrough with The Swan Princess (1994), a surprisingly good animated fairy-tale that in its own unassuming modesty surpassed much of the glintzier high-profile Disney product. Rich subsequently went onto the likes of The Scarecrow (2000), The Trumpet of the Swan (2001), Muhammed: The Last Prophet (2004) and five sequels to The Swan Princess III, as well as to produce Alpha and Omega (2010) and then directed three video sequels Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure (2013), Alpha and Omega 3: The Great Wolf Games (2014), Alpha and Omega: The Legend of the Saw Toothed Cave (2014) and Alpha and Omega: Family Vacation (2015).
With The King and I, Rich surprisingly falls flat. Rather than opening the story up, The King and I is an oddly leaden adaptation where Richs concept seems to have been simply to follow the original almost scene for scene but for the addition of slapstick. This slapstick element is often intensely annoying. The scenes with the fat, bumbling character of Master Little go on and on in prolongedly sadistic ways when a film makes a virtue out of a character losing every one of his teeth one at a time, even if the character is only a caricatured villain, the effect is surely one of sadism.
Furthermore, the quality of the animation is disappointingly flat. The Swan Princess did not have the stunning 3D visuals of recent Disney film but had far more liveliness than The King and I, which seems barely two steps above the two-dimensional minimalism of Hanna-Barberas tv product. The few moments of computer animation the film does squeeze in the images of the British ship, a scene with Thai statues coming to life only tend to highlight the poor quality of handdrawn animation on show elsewhere. The film does briefly pick up toward the end the two principal characters stubbornness eventually emerges to give the film some life, even if it is only a pale shadow of Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerrs prickliness in the original. There is also a hot-air balloon rescue climax where Richard Rich manages to wield the limited animation in a mildly engaging way.
Film online in several parts beginning here:-