The Phantom Tollbooth brings back the nostalgia of the animated shows I grew up watching in the 70s and early 80s. The animation was lively and vibrant, but the film fell completely flat for me for a number of reasons: a weak story, music and songs that were over the top and grating to the ears, and not enough utilization of integrating live action with the animation (after all, Mary Poppins was released six years earlier). This case proves that great animation is not enough…you have to deliver on all fronts to deliver a complete package.
From what I could tell from his IMDb credits, this was Chuck Jones’ only feature as a director, which is a shame. I think if he could have paired with a terrific screenwriter, he would have put out more films that were of the same caliber as his television work.