Aventuras com Tio Maneco [Adventures with Uncle Manuelo] (1971)

(aka, Journey to an Unknown World)

Children’s films.

Why are they always such a plague?

You really have to wonder: it can’t be that hard to make a film that will appeal to younger audiences and at the same time not be utterly terrible.

Now I suppose part of my reaction to this Brazilian children’s film, Aventuras com Tio Maneco, is because I watched Supersonic Saucer (1956) not too long before.  Supersonic Saucer is about as dire a children’s film as anyone has ever made.  it certainly doesn’t have the eccentric imagination on display in this film:

The parents of our three young heroes, Mario, Paco and Diego, are in a terrible panic: Uncle Maneco (for some strange reason this get anglicized at Uncle Manuelo) is due to arrive at any moment to take the kids on his annual trip with him.  And those trips always seem to end in disaster, like the time he got his balloon caught on an inconvenient Church spire.

But their attempts to lock him out of the house and pretend that they aren’t there all fail, and Maneco heads off to the jungle in a private plane to meet up with the boy’s adventurer grandfather, who needs their help.

Their grandfather would like to help some friendly aliens who are trying to find a mysterious flower which is held by a native tribe somewhere up the Amazon, a flower which supposedly contains all the imagination and creativity of their race.

The problem is that one of the evil alien robots who enslaved the aliens has caught grandfather and is forcing him to help it find the flower.  So Maneco and the boys have to find some way to get the flower before the robot does…

Now I’ll admit that a lot of this is agreeably silly — although some of the choices the director — and star — Flávio Migliaccio makes are very, very strange.  The flying saucer, for example, is a nice, if somewhat simple design, and the model is quite passable, while the robot is a goofy, Fifties-style man-in-a-suit monster with a bit of personality.  It’s not exactly brilliant, but it will do.

But the aliens…

Now that’s a different story.

Our first glimpse of them is through the portholes of the saucer, where they are…

Hand-drawn animation.


Little green guys.

It’s an odd sort of choice, but makes sense as long as they are in the saucer.

I guess.

But more on that later.

Now the basic setup here is reasonably entertaining, but it goes astray because the boys get separated from their uncle for far too long in the middle of the film and have to survive on their own.  There are a few nice details here, like how to build a solar still to get fresh water, or drinking rainwater off big leaves, and a lot of stock animal footage mixed with a few obviously tame beasts.

Oddest of all is a sequence where the three get soaked and spend a long scene completely naked.

They then run into a group of naked native children not long afterwards in another long (and more revealing) scene.

Only in Brazil, right?

Don’t expect to see this one in an American theater anytime soon — or on American television, for that matter.

But Aventuras com Tio Maneco saves its biggest weirdness for the end, when our heroes discover that they turn into animated characters when they board the flying saucer.  They then go off (in animated form) to the aliens animated planet, where they help to overthrow the evil animated alien robot overlords.

This ten-minute sequence is colorful to the point of psychedelic, with a bold, childlike sense of design and some great giant robots.

It is also very silly.

Let’s face it:  This is not a lost treasure or a great children’s classic waiting to be rediscovered.  It is a film which is way too slow, with only a few, sporadically interesting moments along the way.  It has a few good stunts, a bit of interesting scenery, and some goofy effects.

And, of course, that strange animated trip to another world.

Aventuras com Tio Maneco is more of a curiosity than anything else.  It isn’t a thrill a minute adventure, its best moments aren’t interesting enough to carry the rest of the film, and it isn’t going to make the kids happy.

Or the adults for that matter…

Buy tin sign of Italian Poster (which has nothing to do with the movie) from Amazon (paid link):



Check out our new Feature (Updated February 16, 2022):

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!



And a Quick Look Behind the Scenes at Predator…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.