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Western Animation / The Point

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Original cover art for The Point

"I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to point. I thought, 'Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn't, then there's a point to it.'"

A 1971 more-or-less independent animated musical featuring songs from Harry Nilsson and many Disney Acid Sequences note  with animation by Jimmy Murakimi and Fred Wolf. It acts as a companion film to an album by Nilsson of the same name.

This story is framed as a father (voiced by Dustin Hoffman in the initial broadcast) reading a story to his son.

We begin in The Land of Point, where the "law of the land" states that "everyone and everything must have a point." This is carried out to its logical extreme—buildings, animals, plants, and people are all "pointed" to the point that nothing in the entire town is round. Except our protagonist, Oblio, who was born round-headed. He copes by wearing a pointed cap, and he has help from his dog and best friend, Arrow. (Yes, Arrow is very pointy, especially in the muzzle.) He is generally tolerated by everyone in town, some Fantastic Racism abounds, but he is well liked by the other children and the good-hearted but naive King.

One day, he beats the son of the evil Count at a game of Triangle Toss, the town's equivalent of football. The Count, who intends to have his equally evil son rule the village one day, sees Oblio's popularity as a threat and makes up his mind to get rid of him. He uses the law of the land against Oblio, and the King has no choice but to exile Oblio and Arrow to the Pointless Forest—which, strangely enough, is full of pointed trees. In the Pointless Forest, he meets the Pointed Man, who points in every direction (you see, "A point in every direction is the same as no point at all.") and seems to exist solely to convince Oblio that the forest and all of his experiences therein are pointless. Oblio also meets and sees other wonders, all of which lead him to understand that, as the Rock Man puts it, "You don't have to have a point to have a point. Dig?" Oblio completes his hero's journey, returns to the village, and teaches everyone the main Aesop: "Everything has a point, whether it shows or not."

The movie is interspersed with songs, nearly all of which have little or nothing to do with the actual plot other than a line or two. This is totally excusable, since the songs and the movie are both Moments of Awesome in the composer's body of work.

Pointed Examples (or pointless examples, depending on your point of view):

  • Aerith and Bob:
    • Some of the kids at the Triangle Toss game are named Harry or Fred. Our hero? Oblio.
    • Harry, Fred, and Richard are also the only named characters (besides Oblio and Arrow) in the entire film. IMDb trivia suggests they're references to Harry Nilsson, Fred Wolf, and Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr).
  • Affably Evil: The Pointed Man. He is jolly and talkative, but also trying to lead Oblio astray and make him think everything is pointless.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Mostly averted. Despite being the only individual to not have a pointed head, Oblio is well liked by most of the townsfolk, with only a few select individuals actually showing any prejudice. The Count, however, takes this to extremes when he decides to have Oblio banished for being round-headed.
  • Amoral Attorney: The Count acts as an unscrupulous lawyer when Oblio is put on trial for not having a pointed head, arguing that the land's law of everything needing a point is more important than what the public thinks of Oblio.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Literally. Arrow is also banished to the Pointless Forest, on the grounds of criminal conspiracy.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The film's animators do not consistently draw clothes. They also don't (consistently) draw what lies under them.
  • The Bet: The object of Triangle Toss is to catch a triangle on one of your points. When the Count's son says Oblio can't play because he has no point, they make a bet: best two out of three catches wins. It's not clear what the reward is, but Oblio says, "Bet you anything!"
  • Big Fun: Three round, fat ladies who inhabit the Pointless Forest and spend their days laughing, dancing, and bouncing on each other—then start bouncing Oblio into the air. "I really don't understand this!" Oblio remarks while experiencing this. But he's smiling when he says it.
  • Bottomless Pit: In the Pointless Forest, Arrow nearly falls into a hole with no bottom. Oblio pulls him away just in time.
  • A Boy and His X: Oblio and Arrow, the best of friends. Whenever Oblio plays Triangle Toss, Arrow helps out by standing on Oblio's shoulders and catching the triangle on one of his own points.
  • The Bully: The Count's son to Oblio. He’s as mean as his father and seems to be the only kid to be prejudiced against Oblio for not having a point.
  • Character Development: The King starts out as a bit of a pushover, allowing the Count to walk all over him. However, when Oblio returns home, the King is more than willing to stand up to the Count.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: During the game of Triangle Toss, right after a triangle is thrown, the Count's son tackles Oblio, but Arrow catches the triangle anyway.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: The father wants to read a bedtime story to his son, who would rather watch a TV show before bed. As the father reads, the story's action just happens to be played out on the TV in the son's bedroom.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Every single song goes into an abstract sequence with very little relevance to the story.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Invoked by the Count's son during the game. He produces a cute female dog. Arrow stops to gaze at her, missing the triangle he was supposed to catch, and the Count's son catches it instead.
      The Count's son: Hmm. Pretty neat, huh, Oblio?
      Oblio: [to a whimpering Arrow] Whose side are you on, anyway?
    • A little later, this happens to the Count's son, who stops to pose for some girls waving at him. Meanwhile, Oblio and Arrow catch the next triangle, leaving the Count's son hanging his head.
  • Evil Chancellor: The Count, convincing the King that Oblio must be banished for not having a point.
  • Evil Is Petty: His son gets beaten at a game, and what does the Count do? Banish the victor, of course.
  • The Exile: The Count has Oblio and Arrow banished to the Pointless Forest.
  • Framing Device: The story of Oblio is a bedtime story the father is reading to his son.
  • Gentle Giant: The Rock Man is the biggest character in the movie and is also one of the kindest, giving Oblio some needed encouragement and wisdom.
  • Good Parents: Oblio's parents love their son even if he was born without a point.
  • Irony: In the end, Oblio gains a point on his head, just like the other villagers' points, but all the other people in his village lose their points—and so do all the buildings! If anything, even if things have changed, one thing remains the same: Oblio is still the odd one out in his world. Still, his personal growth has allowed him to gracefully accept he'll always be different. It helps that the rest of the villagers begin assuming that everyone has a point, whether it shows or not.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Tree Man, who's in the leaf-manufacturing business, is gruff, preoccupied with "timing," and initially doesn't want to waste time in conversation. The moment he notices Oblio is troubled, though, he softens up and gives him some advice. And when he learns that Oblio has no roots (and therefore no ability to "grow leaves" like him), he's genuinely sorry for him, and sincerely hopes the boy can "grow" riches of his own somehow.
  • Meaningful Echo: When Oblio's father first sees his infant son and greets him with "Hi, Oblio. ...Hi, son," it's said rather nervously (given, this was the first time he saw someone lacking a point). When his son returns from his exile, he says these same words again, in a much happier voice than before.
  • Missing Mom: The mother of the Count's son is never seen or mentioned.
  • No Indoor Voice: The Count spends much of his screentime angrily shouting and bawling at the other characters. It even gets lampshaded near the end of the film, when the King has to tell him to shut up so that Oblio can tell his story.
  • Overlord Jr.: The Count's son is just as wicked as his old man.
  • Pun: "He's got a point there! (chuckle)"
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The King. He's clearly distraught when the Count forces him to banish Oblio to the Pointed Forest. When Oblio comes back, he is clearly done with the Count's bull and ignores him in favor of listening to Oblio.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: Non-musical example—due to Dustin Hoffman's contract stipulating that his narration could only be used for one airing, his voice had to be redubbed for subsequent airings. Alan Barzman was used for the first rebroadcast, Ringo Starr did the home video release and Alan Thicke did a version that was broadcast on cable during the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Sore Loser: The Count's son, big time. After losing the game of Triangle Toss, he tells his father, who sets the rest of the plot in motion by using the law of the land against Oblio.
  • Visionary Villain: The Count intends to have his son rule the village one day. This is why the Count has Oblio banished to the Pointless Forest: so that Oblio's popularity won't be a threat to the leadership credibility of the Count's son.