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A Troll in Central Park (released in some countries as Stanley's Magic Garden) is a 1994 American animated musical fantasy-comedy film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, creators of Thumbelina, The Land Before Time, All Dogs Go to Heaven, The Secret of NIMH and An American Tail. It was released on October 7, 1994, by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment. The film grossed $71,368 at the North American box office.
The film features the voice talents of Dom DeLuise as Stanley, Phillip Glasser as Gus, Tawny Sunshine Glover as Rosie, Cloris Leachman as Queen Gnorga, Hayley Mills as Hilary, Jonathan Pryce as Alan, and Charles Nelson Reilly as King Llort. It is the last Don Bluth film to star Dom DeLuise.
The film begins in a Kingdom of Trolls, where Stanley (Dom DeLuise) has a magical green thumb with the ability to bring flowers and plants to life at a touch. When he is discovered doing so, the other trolls take him as prisoner to Gnorga (Cloris Leachman), the Queen of the Trolls, who concludes that Stanley "gives a bad name to trolls everywhere" and demands that he be turned to stone. At the behest of her consort King Llort (Charles Nelson Reilly), Gnorga instead banishes Stanley to Central Park where, after a series of mishaps, Stanley hides himself under a bridge. In New York City, two young siblings named Gus and Rosie (Phillip Glasser and Tawny Sunshine Glover) learn that their father Alan (Jonathan Pryce) and mother Hilary (Hayley Mills) cannot take them to Central Park. While left alone with their nanny, Maria, Gus takes Rosie to the Park himself. While playing with Gus's toy boat, which is later accidentally smashed, Rosie befriends Stanley. When Queen Gnorga discovers Stanley happy in exile, she creates a flood to drown them by making Gus cry, but Stanley enlarges Gus's toy boat to escape. Soon after, Stanley shows the children his own ideals, depicted as a world of his own.
Determined to suppress Stanley, Queen Gnorga sends a tornado to destroy Central Park, and kidnaps Rosie. Gus, having failed to persuade Stanley's help, himself faces Gnorga. In the resulting fight, Gnorga transforms Gus into a troll, while Stanley rescues Rosie. Having arrived, Stanley challenges Gnorga to a thumb-wrestling match, which when Stanley gains advantage, plants roses all around Gnorga's body. As Stanley, Gus, and Rosie escape and celebrate their victory, Gnorga uses Gus's thumb to turn Stanley to stone. Gus and Rosie fall into their apartment and the last of Stanley's power changes Gnorga into a rose bush. Gnorga, Llort and their dog then return to the Kingdom of Trolls, while Gus returns to his human form. The next day, Gus, Rosie, and their parents enter Central Park, where Gus and Rosie place the petrified Stanley on a makeshift pedestal, and attempt to revive him without apparent effect, only to find him revived after a moment's pause. Restored to life, Stanley recreates Central Park.
In the Kingdom of Trolls, Llort takes Gnorga's place as a kinder ruler. Llort is last seen reading a newspaper with "Gnorga: Queen of Posies" written on it; as he read the headline, Gnorga's dog bites him.
Work on A Troll in Central Park began in 1990, following the near completion of Rock-a-Doodle. During production, Don Bluth said to his employees that they should put their best in this film, but if they don't, they can "go plant themselves in another garden". A while after he said that, some animators left to work at Disney on Beauty and the Beast. Buddy Hackett and Robert Morley recorded their voices for Stanley and King Llort, but were eventually replaced by Dom DeLuise and Charles Nelson Reilly. Even though the film was completed in 1992, it was not released in theaters until 1994. At that time, the film was originally slated for a March 1994 release, but due to production difficulties and the producers deciding to release Thumbelina first, the film's release date was changed to October 7, 1994.
The film grossed $71,368 in North America. It was Don Bluth's lowest-grossing film to date, though not his film to lose the most money overall. Gary Goldman has said the reason for this was that the film was released without any sign of promotion and its release was limited. He also stated that its distributor Warner Bros. did not have any confidence in the film.
A Troll in Central Park holds an approval rating of 17% based on six reviews, five negative and one positive, from Rotten Tomatoes. TV Guide gave the movie two out of five stars and felt that the film's appeal was very age-limited, calling it "Pastel-pretty and cloyingly sweet," and that A Troll in Central Park is strictly for the youngest members of the moviegoing audience." In the July 2001 issue of his magazine ToonTalk, Don Bluth said that "the development of a story is like the development of a child in a womb; it takes time and it must be done right and building A Troll in Central Park, taught us this lesson, the hard way." The A.V. Club wrote that A Troll in Central Park is "widely considered to be [Don Bluth's] worst film."
A Troll in Central Park was released on October 7, 1994 in the United States, produced by Don Bluth Ireland Ltd. and distributed by Warner Bros. under the Warner Bros. Family Entertainment label.
On January 10, 1995, Warner Home Video released A Troll in Central Park on VHS and LaserDisc in the United States and Canada. In the UK, the movie was released on VHS under the title Stanley's Magic Garden. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the film on DVD for the first time on February 19, 2002. As of March 20, 2019, the film rights to A Troll in Central Park and Thumbelina, along with the international rights to The Pebble and the Penguin are still owned by Fox (with Walt Disney Studios deal), which had obtained the film rights from Warner Bros. in the early-2000s. The film rights by Fox will be expired until June 2020.
This is the only Don Bluth film in which Dom DeLuise voiced the main protagonist; in previous Don Bluth films that starred him, he voiced a supporting character, and he did not voice anyone in The Land Before Time, Rock-a-Doodle, or even Thumbelina.
One of the characters, a Squirrel closely resembles another squirrel character from Rock-a-Doodle.
As of 2018, this is the only feature-length Don Bluth production that has still yet to be released on Blu-ray.
When the film's theatrical trailer was finalized, it showed the final battle between Stanley and Gnorga (which especially included some bits that showed Gus in troll form). That scene was cut from the trailer found on VHS releases of Black Beauty and Thumbelina likely to avoid spoilers for anyone who has not seen the film. However, the full spoiler-heavy trailer was shown on the VHS release of Little Giants.
In a comedy sketch in a 2001 episode of Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin played Charles Nelson Reilly in a parody of the show Inside the Actor's Studio. During the course of the sketch, host James Lipton (as played by Will Ferrell) comments on how he loved A Troll in Central Park — he says watching it "is like looking into the face of God and seeing him smiling back, saying: 'You are my most wondrous creation'" — and asks if he can "speak to King Llort". Reilly accommodates by holding index cards to his ears and saying: "Well, hello, James Lipton! I'm King Llort! There's a troll in Central Park! I'm King Llort!".