Once Upon a Mattress (review)

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This made-for-TV update of the classic Broadway show may be the original fractured fairy tale: The Princess and the Pea gets a kooky, musical, feminist spin that is just as fun and fresh today as it must have been when it made its Broadway debut in 1959. Comic queen Carol Burnett reigns as the royal mom who constantly thwarts her princely son’s (Denis O’Hare: Derailed) attempts to marry… until she meets her match in Princess Winnifred, played by Burnett’s heir-in-humor, Tracey Ullman (Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride). And the gal who may be Ullman’s heir-in-humor — the up-and-coming genius of funny, actress Zooey Deschanel (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) — is here, too, as the Lady Larken, who has a particularly urgent reason to see her prince wed. The songs are silly, the colors are bright, the mischief is merry in this tale of men rendered ineffective by matters of honor, magic, or maternal meddling, and women made efficient by dint of love. It’s rare to see so strong a female cast accorded so rich a trio of roles — Ullman’s Winnifred is a particular pip — and it’s a delight. Extras include footage of behind-the-scenes wackiness, a making-of doc, and an intriguing side-by-side look at rehearsals and finished scenes from the film.

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