Mother Goose Rock ’n’ Rhyme


A colorful caper between the pages of Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes.

I don’t always have good taste. It’s often the garish and tacky I pick over the reserved and refined. I trace that preference to Mother Goose Rock ’n’ Rhyme, the magnificently surreal, made-for-TV movie that I watched countless times during my preschool days.

When Mother Goose goes missing from her home in Rhymeland, her son Gordon Goose (Dan Gilroy) pairs with Bo Peep (Shelley Duvall) to find her. Along the way they seek help from the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe (Debbie Harry), the Three Men in a Tub (ZZ Top), and Ole King Cole (Little Richard). All give outlandish performances that fit well in a chaotic set made from neon panels of upholstered cardboard.

Adults will notice the less magical elements of Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme. Mary (Cyndi Lauper) has a Lamb, yes, but he’s not so little. Woody Harrelson plays the Lamb, rendering him as a disgruntled man in worn shearling and face paint. Like other aspects of the movie, the performance is a little creepy to grown-up eyes. But to kids who have heard their nursery rhymes a few too many times, seeing characters like Mary’s Lamb redesigned and used in the service of a new story is giddily refreshing.