The so-called “Magic Kingdom” doesn’t seem to have what it takes for me to take notice these days. The mouse has roared, Neverland offers discount coupons, and I’m clapping for Tinkerbell, but she’s passed out drunk on the floor with phone cameras snapping away. Where did it all go wrong? The decadence of King Arthur’s court can only end in Mordred at this stage.

Yet, there is a time I remember when I lived for the Magic Kingdom and all its wonders. Perhaps the decrepitude of today is worth it for the glories of yesterday. I suppose it’s a fair trade, and I’ll always have Paris, if you want to look at it in a stoic, Humphrey Bogart kind of way. I loved Peter Pan; he was my idol. Dressed up for him on Halloween once, and I probably have every line from the record memorized for all eternity in some reptilian part of my medulla oblongata.

But today, I’m jonesin’ for a hit of one of my favorite all time movies, Escape to Witch Mountain. The movie is about as primitive as you can get by today’s standards, but imagination needs so little to take flight, I don’t care. Mild spoilers follow.

Tony and Tia live at the orphanage. They are siblings but don’t remember much about their parents, save jumbled images that come to them in dreams. The other kids don’t like them, because they’re weird. I’ll say! The two children can communicate with each other telepathically, and possess varying degrees of telekinesis (the ability to move objects with the mind) and precognition (the ability to see the future). Tia can sense the future better, while Tony can move objects better, but only when using his harmonica as a focus. Tia also has a pet black cat named “Winky” with whom she can communicate with.

One day, they save a rich, evil multi-millionaire from death in an auto accident by predicting it and warning him. He adopts them, and gives them anything a kid could want – huge playrooms with countless toys, tennis courts, horseback riding, the good life. But they can’t leave his estate, and they have to predict the stock market for him. He’s got lots of guards and attack dogs to keep them from attempting any foolish ideas.

Plot devices move forward and Tia discovers a clue that might lead them to answers about their past: A place called Witch Mountain. So using their powers, they make a break for it and become runaways looking for Witch Mountain. They experience many hardships, and find both friends and enemies along the way. Meanwhile, Mr. Evil Capitalist does his best to find and recapture his prized “assets”.

In particular, they find an old man driving around in a Winnebago camper who has become bitter at the way his life has turned out. He’s a good man who just needs to learn to let go of the past and live again, and the two kids in true mouse moral fashion, bring out his true character. He becomes their companion and helps them thereafter at great “risk” to himself.

Since it’s a mouse movie, of course the children reach their goal, and find the answer to who they are, and what they are. Happy ending? You betcha! Hey, I bought into it; I’m not going to complain.

What particularly moves me is the interaction between the old man and the children. He very closely resembles the person they need to speak with at Witch Mountain, and so it makes sense that they would form a bond with him. But I can’t help but feel that the main character of the movie is the old man, rather than Tony and Tia. Their adventure is important, and the dangers they face very real, but there’s almost a strangely divine character to them, as though their problems were of a higher order then mere human existence. Though I’m sure they operate just fine as a means for children viewers to project upon and imagine themselves as being!

The old man has no magic powers, and it is his assistance that the children need. Their predicament only allows them to travel so far, so fast. Being an adult, he is able to investigate for them in ways they could not, and take care of them in ways they haven’t learned for themselves. But it goes both ways. They provide psychic assistance when his own experience can’t meet the demands of their ordeal, and they give him a joyous sense of being alive again. He gets to protect the children he never had, and makes peace with the demons that have haunted him. The scene where Tia tells him exactly what is eating him alive is devastating, and a release. Pretty heady stuff for a kids show. But sometimes the message gets through in the most mysterious of ways. In the end, he is reconnected with himself, and is the real winner. The bad guy should count his blessings. A lesson about greed, perhaps.

I never tire of seeing it. Simple, decent length, fantastical elements, moral lessons, and a solid story that resolves itself. The mouse can keep his Mulan 8 “The Final Chapter Begins” and Cinderella 4 “In the Hood”. I got the hookup right here.