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Western Animation / Sparky's Magic Piano

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If only he knew pride always comes before the fall...

A 1987 animated adaptation of the 1947 Vinyl record of the same name.

Sparky is an eight year old boy struggling to become good at the piano, especially when he'd rather be out playing baseball. But after a shoddy lesson with his piano teacher, his piano begins talking to him and says that he can play any tune by himself that Sparky requests. His first request is Chopin - Waltz in E minor, Opus posth. The magnificent performance supposedly coming from the eight-year old amazes both his parenta, Martha and Henry and piano teacher Miss Picketts, the latter of whom wishes to arrange for a world tour for Sparky. Henry is opposed to the idea, fearing the stardom and glory will go to the young boy's head and does not want Sparky's education put off, but is overruled by Martha who fully supports Ms. Picketts proposal. Sparky soon becomes a celebrity, but begins to develop the selfish persona Henry had predicted, which the piano does not take a liking to. Meanwhile, we learn that Henry is not the only one who is unsupportive of Sparky's musical career. A popular music critic named Max is not convinced that an eight-year old can play so well and smells a rat. After failing to convince his family to end the tour, Henry teams up with Max to expose Sparky for the fraud that he is and end his musical career for good. Will they succeed or will Sparky's growing pride do the job for them?


The special featured an All-Star Cast, including Vincent Price as Sparky's father, Mel Blanc as the Max the music critic, Tony Curtis as his dim-witted sidekick Sam, and Cloris Leachman as Ms. Picketts.

The special provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The original record version was mostly just an excuse for a pianist concert for children. It has the introduction of Sparky discovering his piano's magical abilities and going into stardom, and the climax of the piano refusing to continue playing for Sparky, the latter of whom discovering the whole attire was a dream, but the rest consists solely of piano works from historical musical geniuses, each named by the narrator. To fill the 50-minute running time, numerous subplots had to be created, including Sparky's ego getting the better of him, much to the piano's displeasement, Sparky's father attempting to put a stop to his concert tour and get his son back in school, and a bumbling music critic named Max out to prove Sparky is a fraud.
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  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original, Sparky was able to retain his kind persona in spite of the fame and glory. Here, he becomes an egotistical Spoiled Brat, which is why the piano eventually stops playing for him here.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Though not directly responsible for it, Max's plan to thwart Sparky's musical career succeeds.
  • All Just a Dream: The entire experience..but why does the piano suddenly have a face that's winking at the camera in the last shot?
  • Big Eater: Sam. He's more interested in finding a restaraunt to eat at than helping his partner Max find a piano store to purchase a look-alike piano that they can use to pull a Le-Switcheroo on Sparky.
  • Butt-Monkey: Henry and Max.
  • Canon Immigrant: Everyone but Sparky, his mother, Miss Picketts and the piano. Sparky's father had appeared in other Sparky records, but was absent in the one this special is based off of.
  • Cassandra Truth: Everyone informed of Sparky's supposed musical talent must see it to believe it.
  • Face Palm: Max does this when he sees his assistant wearing an I love Sparky T-Shirt.
  • Fat and Skinny: Sam and Max.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Sparky's mother and Ms. Picketts never notice the selfish persona Sparky develops once in the entire special. Lampshaded by the narrator.
  • Jerkass: Max is justified in his attempts to expose Sparky, but he takes a bit too much sadistic pleasure in doing so.
  • Jerkass Ball: After becoming a child celebrity, Sparky becomes more spoiled and selfish, which eventually turns the magic piano against him in the end.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Sparky's mother, who is named Martha here.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Sparky's dog Beans, who appears to become just as arrogant.
  • Role Reprisal: Alan Livingston as the writer, producer, and voice of the piano.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At the encore Sparky's big performance at Carnegie Hall, the piano decides that he's had enough of Sparky's selfishness and lack of gratitude and refuses to continue playing for him, leaving Sparky with only his genuine amature piano skills to demonstrate for the audience. They are not impressed.
  • Spoiled Brat: Sparky is called this by both his father and the piano. Even before his rise to fame, Sparky is annoyed by his constant piano lessons and failure to improve.
  • Terrible Trio: Max, Sam and Henry aren't truly villains, but they are technically the antagonists of the film, scheming to ruin Sparky for good.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Max the music critic. He wants to expose someone who is deceiving the public with false musical talent, and Sparky's selfish behavior makes his attempts to expose him more justified.

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