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The Misadventures of Merlin Jones
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This came out in 1964, and was originally meant to be a 2-part TV release on Disney's Wonderful World of Color, but instead got a theatrical release. It was not well received by critics, but I think it's okay. I mean it's completely ridiculous, but that's what makes it fun. I'm sure I must have seen it on TV in my youth in the 1980s, possibly on whatever the Disneyland anthology series was calling itself at the time, or possibly elsewhere. So it's kind of nostalgic to me, even though I couldn't remember any details about it by the time I re-watched it on DVD in 2024.

Tommy Kirk plays a student at Midvale College named Merlin Jones, who is kind of obsessed with scientific experiments. He might even be something of a genius, but an absent-minded one. I think most of the other students consider him a kook, but he does have a doting girlfriend named Jennifer (Annette Funicello). There's also a jock/bully named Norman, who really doesn't like Merlin, and wants to date Jennifer, himself. Anyway, one day Merlin is experimenting with an invention that's a helmet with a sort of amped-up electroencephalograph. He wants to study his own brainwaves while doing various things, including driving. A cop pulls him over to give him a ticket for driving while wearing the contraption, which Jennifer thinks is unfair, so she tells Merlin to refuse to sign the ticket. This results in his having to appear before Judge Holmsby, who suspends his driver's license for ten days. Meanwhile, Merlin continues his experiments with the helmet, and at one point it goes haywire, which temporarily gives Merlin telepathy. While working as a waiter, he hears Judge Holmsby thinking about committing crimes, so he sets out, with Jennifer's help, to prove Holmsby's guilt to the police. I don't want to say how that ends, but it was exactly as I predicted. I'm not sure if that's because my subconscious remembered a bit of the plot from my childhood, or just because it was predictable.

Then there's another story in which Merlin becomes interested in hypnotism. He hypnotizes a chimpanzee named Stanley from the college's science department to stand up for his rights against Norman, who is in charge of the chimp but apparently mistreats him. Merlin is also annoyed that Norman constantly refers to Stanley as a monkey. Stanley's actions under the influence of post-hypnotic suggestion lead to Merlin once again being brought before Judge Holmsby, who dismisses the charges but asks Merlin to hypnotize him, for a reason I won't get into, because it would spoil the end of the first adventure. I also don't want to say how the second adventure plays out, but of course it's all quite silly, like the whole movie.

Well... I can totally understand critics (or anyone else) thinking the movie is just plain bad, but I mostly enjoyed it. Probably the one thing I really disliked about it was when one of Merlin's professors hypnotized him and told him to kiss the first pretty girl he sees. This turns out to be someone other than Jennifer, who was in the same class, so she got upset about it for a little while. Everyone else in class, including the professor, laughed about it, but I saw it as the professor instigating some light sexual assault against both Merlin and the girl he kissed. And I object to the movie treating that kind of thing like it's funny, because it's definitely not. But other than that, I thought the movie was okay. Not exactly good, but reasonably entertaining, if you can get into the mindset to appreciate the silliness of it all.

Followed by "The Monkey's Uncle"

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