is largely hailed as one of Walt Disney's most masterly creations, and one of the all time great movies, period.
The animation is astonishingly fluid, evocative and filled with true character. The music has set standards that are still used today, including the use of an electronic instrument for a magical effect. The story is unforgettable -- and pretty scary in spots.
bonus material explains, the film was not a huge success in its initial release and several reasons are speculated upon. I would venture that Disney has always had better luck with the more romantic animated features, even as recently as
. But who knows? It's certainly earned its keep by now, many times over, and comes to DVD and Blu-Ray disc in a new multi-disc edition.
A friend of mine with a Blu-Ray player highly recommends this version. ("You mean YOU don't have a Blu-Ray Player??" he says.) The image is spectacular in his opinion, as it was in the
Blu-Ray, so much so that you can even make out the painter's brush strokes! If you get the Blu-Ray version, you still get a standard DVD with the
. It's as knowledgable and interesting as you might expect, though I do wonder whehter the claim that
's only Disney work was the omitted voice of Gideon -- isn't he Cousin Orville in the Carousel of Progress, or is that
Anyway, you do not get the second disc in standard DVD format unless you buy the standard DVD package, so the choice is up to you depending on your need for extras and if you are looking to transition to Blu-Ray.
One little piece of trivia not found anywhere on the discs: you can hear a few notes of the deleted song,
in the scene in which the boys sail for Pleasure Island. My way of saying thanks for reading this blog!
DISNEY DOGGIES ON DVD
Posted on Mar 10 2009 by Greg
Dogs are crowd pleasers. That's one of the reasons Beverly Hills Chihuahua
was a surprise hit at the movies last year. And rather than a lot of head scratching about why other, more "lofty" films didn't fare as well, perhaps it's because high concept films -- ones that have a premise so simple and fun-sounding that usually the title tells it and the trailer is loaded with signature gags.
The good news is that Beverly Hills Chihuahua
is on a par with Disney light comedies of days past, the kind that weren't classics but were as pleasurable as popsicles and left happy childhood memories, though somewhat more elaborate and technically lush.
Director Raja Gosnell
has no illusions that he's filming Brecht or Proust -- he literally begins his commentary (thanks for having one!) with a self-deprecating anecdote. But what emerges from his detailed explanations of the intricacies of filmmaking with dogs and special effects, as well as the talents involved, are skill, professionalism and enthusiasm.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film technique, making the dogs seem to have conversations and interact together, is similar to combining live action and animation. The dogs are usually filmed individually, then composited in the film lab to appear together. In editing, specific poses and movements are pinpointed and then the mouths and brows are animated.
Although most dialogue is pre-recorded, the voice actors' improvisations are added and the characters developed. George Lopez's
inventiveness was such that Papi's character was expanded from a minor role. In fact, the whole film evolved from a more straightforward, serious story to a comedy (a fact proven by deleted scenes on the DVD).Drew Barrymore
, who deserves more recognition for her capabilities as a voice actor, manages to convey sympathy for a fairly whiny little pooch. Her expressive, just-slightly-but-not-too-overwrought vocal range would have made her a fine radio actress in the 1940s.
Disney has also reissued the original Air Bud in a special edition DVD
with a "Buddy" dog tag an audio commentary in which the voices of the Air Buddies and their parents provide kid-friendly comments. Air Bud
spawned several sequels as well as the Air Buddies
series, again proving how dogs deliver the goods to audiences and corporate accountants. This first film does not seem to anticipate the others, so it is somewhat less light, emphasizing the boy's back story and the emergence of Buddy as a basketball star, which is based on fact. What is probably not quite as factual are the Ugly Dachshund
-style scenes of comical destruction -- you know, paint and wall paper and like that -- that gave Dean Jones and Suzanne Pleshette so much wacky trouble.
It would have been nice if the script had refrained from so many of the words that many parents wish were not so prevalent in family films. Interestingly, the more current films are not so rich in such language. Perhaps, back in 1997, Air Bud was still scripted in response to the success of The Bad News Bears
and similar films. This isn't that kind of film, though. Lots of people really talk that way, including many kids, but not all of them do, and it would be nice to raise the bar in a film like this.
My son sure liked Air Bud
, so it looks like we'll probably be looking at the sequels soon.
The ultimate Disney fantasy film?
Posted on Feb 26 2009 by Greg
How different is High School Musical 3
from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
or The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
Not much when you think about it. They all depict what has been referred in the past as Disney's "idealization of life." The High School Musical
films let you live for a while in a school without the harshness of real-life student politics, teacher issues and especially the dark, cynical vision so often seen on television, films and books inexplicably accepted as "kid-friendly."
Therein lies its charm. Whatever your opinion of the High School Musical
series, you can't help but marvel at how young people have taken to it -- despite its omission of language, sex and bitterness that some in the industry insist are requirements to "get the kids." If only prime time TV would get the message perhaps it would not be at an all time low in viewership.
Since this, the third film, was given a more generous budget, much of the money shows up on the screen, especially in the lavish production numbers like "I Want it All," and particularly "Scream,' in which director Kenny Ortega
pays tribute to Fred Astaire
by flipping over the school hallway (and Zac Efron
). The cast are as charming as ever. I was particularly happy to see the character of Mrs. Darbus (Alyson Reed
) get a brief but nice opportunity to explore more warmth and depth than afforded in the previous chapters.
And since this is the farewell film for the main "students" (though some of the others may emerge from the background in the 4th film planned for TV), there are at least three finales. These kids sing their goodbyes a lot before a curtain literally falls over the whole thing, never to be quite the same again until, perhaps, the High School Musical
reunion movie we can certainly look forward to in about 8 to 10 years (wonder who'll be "available" to reprise their roles?)
In the tradition of frothy musical fun, the story is secondary to watching the characters cavort. Sharpay, who despite learning her lesson in each film and "turning nice," goes back to square one repeatedly -- like Wile E. Coyote
. This time, she gets a British assistant to facilitate villainous monologuing because her brother is leaning on the "nice kids" side this time.
The whole thing is a lot of fun. My daughter and her friends are starting to get too cool for HSM but still enjoy this movie, much as they're not into Miley
so much but they like her sitcom just fine (Monkee
career warning, Miley.)
The DVD offers bloopers and short documentaries about the production and the farewell nature of the project, plus an extra reprise of "Right Here, Right Now" not seen in the theatrical version. A 2-disc edition also includes a digital download.
Though it's always debatable whether any group of ambitious young performers in a film or TV series are as chummy as they are publcized to be, I can't help but believe their mixed feelings about leaving HSM behind. It's what they knew, it's what "made" them, and the future is exciting but pretty scary.
Just like graduation. Or corporate re-orgs.
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