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Looking for a fun time at the movies? Then find your way to "Finding Kraftland"

Jim Hill

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Looking for a fun time at the movies? Then find your way to "Finding Kraftland"

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Are you a fan of Disneyana & America's consumer culture? (Look who I'm talking to. You come to this website, right? So of course you're already into the Mouse. Anyway ... )

Now here's the more important question: Do you live in the LA area?

If so ... Well, this would be a really good day to call in sick. Or feign car trouble. Just come up with some sort of excuse, okay? Because you need to get down to Santa Barbara by later this morning.

Why For? Because at 12:30 p.m. today, the documentary "Finding Kraftland" is being shown at the 22nd Annual Santa Barbara International Festival. And this may be your only chance to catch a screening of this enormously entertaining film about Richard Kraft and his son, Nicky.

"And who exactly are Richard & Nicky Kraft?, you ask. Well, entertainment industry insiders know Kraft as the film music agent for such well-known composers as Alan Menken & Danny Elfman. But in Disneyana circles, Richard is known as the collector's collector.

I mean, this is the guy who has a full-sized "Dumbo the Flying Elephant" ride vehicle hanging over the piano in his music room.

Copyright 2007 Richard Kraft Productions

Who uses one of the original sea serpents from Disneyland's old "Submarine Voyage" as a decorative pool toy.

 Copyright 2007 Richard Kraft Productions

Who has one of the devils from "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" watching over the family library.

 Copyright 2007 Richard Kraft Productions

Mind you, Kraft doesn't limit himself to just collecting Disney theme park-related items. As "Finding Kraftland" clearly points out, Richard loves virtually every aspect of pop culture. Which is why one corner of his home is basically a shrine to the James Bond films, while still another area pays tribute to the 1939 New York World's Fair. And the shelves surrounding the bathtub are just covered with old Soakee containers.

Copyright 2007 Richard Kraft Productions

And don't even get me started on the game room. Which is literally filled -- from floor to ceiling -- with hundreds of great old 1960s era board games.

Copyright 2007 Richard Kraft Productions

Now please don't get the wrong idea, folks. "Finding Kraftland" is not the Disneyana equivalent of MTV's "Cribs." Sure, you get to see some pretty amazing collectibles over the course of this 67-minute-long feature. But it's not the things you see that make this movie so memorable. But -- rather -- the people you meet.

Richard Kraft (to put it mildly) is a very colorful character. His passion & zest for life literally leaps off the screen. And Nicky Kraft ... is this very funny, very together 16-year-old who just happens to be best friends with his Dad.

And "Finding Kraftland" chronicles their adventures together. Be it traveling around the world to ride on 425 different roller coasters. Or the elaborately themed birthday parties that these two stage for their almost-shared birthdays (I.E. Richard was born on March 1st while Nicky was born on March 2nd).

Copyright 2007 Richard Kraft Productions

There is such obvious affection between father & son here. Which -- given that Nicky spends most of the year living in Canby, this small rural town just outside of Portland, OR. with Richard's ex-wife -- is all the more remarkable. But these two clearly make the most of the time that they have together. Cramming in adventure after adventure.

Look, I know. Based on this bare-bones description, "Finding Kraftland" may sound like some sort of vanity project. And even Richard has described this film as being " ... the world's most over-produced home movie."

But having just watched "Finding Kraftland" (Which Richard cobbled together with his co-writer / co-director Adam Shell), I can assure you that this movie is much more than a mere vanity project. There's some really great messages to be found here about following your passion, making the most of the time that you have on this planet and -- above all -- cherishing your family.

Which -- I know -- may make this movie sound mawkish. Which "Finding Kraftland" really isn't. Truth be told, this film is often wildly funny. Take -- for example -- Tony Award-winning composer Marc Shaiman's bawdy tribute to his agent, Richard. Which (I should warn you) contains some pretty adult language but is still the funniest version of "Holiday for Strings" that I've ever heard.

Okay. Just to recap here: If you're a Disneyana fan, "Finding Kraftland" is worth seeing just to catch a glimpse of Kraft's amazing collection of photographs & collectibles.

Copyright 2007 Richard Kraft Productions

But if you're just a lover of film, this sweet little documentary about the over-the-top adventures of this rather remarkable father & son is still well worth seeking out. So if you can get down to Santa Barbara to catch today's screening of "Finding Kraftland," you really should do so. You can thank me later.

As for the rest of you JHM readers who don't live in the LA area ... I have some bad news & some good news. The bad news is ... There are currently no plans to release "Finding Kraftland" on DVD. But the good news is ... Kraft & Shell have submitted their co-production to a number of other film festivals around the country. So -- with a little luck -- "Finding Kraftland" may find its way to your neck of the woods sometime soon.

And -- if it does -- you should really find a way to go see "Finding Kraftland."

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  • Looks fun! Too bad I live in the Netherlands.. But the stills from the movie looked great :P

  • Cool story, Jim! Too bad this is a film I most likely won't ever get to see, because I agree with you ... it looks really cute and heartwarming!

    Not to mention I'm totally jealous of this guy ... he got to lie down with the pigs in PoTC!!!

  • As something that has interest to me, but unlikely that I will ever see it - this seems like the perfect video project to post to the internet for viewing.

  • While the film is not available on DVD, the website www.findingkraftland.com has a number of photos of the collection and two video clips from the movie.

  • I checked out the website.  I am seriously jealous.  My wife would kill me if I had all that Disney stuff though, but I could use a Dumbo ride vehicle. :)

  • I have never been jealous of someone laying with pigs until now. I will keep my fingers crossed that this film comes to my neck of the woods someday.

    The serpent by the pool is one of the coolest things I've seen.

    What did Stamos ever do with the original Dland sign?

  • I should have checked the site sooner, I work 3 blocks from the theater in Santa Barbara and missed both showings.  :-(

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