Category Archives: Disney

Earth to Echo (2014) Movie Review

Earth to Echo

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt, Jason Gray-Stanford
Director: Dave Green
Release Date: 2 July 2014
Language: English
Length: 91 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: DVD
My Rating

Synopsis:

“ When a construction project begins in their neighborhood, four friends (Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt) start receiving bizarre encoded text messages on their cell phones. Setting out to find the origin of the texts, the group stumbles on an astonishing answer. ” — Netflix.com

Review:

I was disappointed with this movie.  I thought the previews looked like fun and was expecting an action-packed sci-fi adventure only to find a amateurish, unfulfilling mess.  Echo is a cute little alien who ends up Earth to Echo Movie Posterstranded on Earth and needs help repairing his ship to go home.  He communicates through our cell phone technology.  For some reason, he targets three friends (Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig) in a neighborhood that has been taken over by eminent domain to make room for a government project.  I was expecting the movie to take off from there and be a rip-roaring Goonies-like adventure with an alien thrown in or maybe an intense alien thriller with child stars like Super 8, but I felt like I was watching someone’s home movie instead.  The camera was really shaky.  I know that it was supposed to make us feel like we were part of the action, but I still think it is an unprofessional choice for a major motion picture.  If you are a brand new filmmaker and making your first movie, maybe I will give it to you, but Earth to Echo was released by Disney and I am used to a higher quality product.

The CGI on Echo was good, when he was shown, which was infrequent.  The child actors did a fine job, but I hated the ending and felt like the whole movie was pointless.  Ella Wahlestedt is thrown in the mix as a the token hot girl whom one of the boys like and this opened up the action to some more mature content than I was expecting.  The kids are hanging out in bars and the action took us to some teen parties with drinking and making out.  I was a bit surprised as I thought that the movie was targeted to preteens as a sci-fi action thriller just for their age group.  It would have been a stronger film if they focused on the group being split up, but getting together to help Echo, which someone changed their situation.

I watched this movie at home with my sister, her husband and their five children.  While I did not care for the movie and would have returned it Earth to Echo Skylinemostly unwatched, the rest of the group was much more interested and watched the whole movie without interruption.  The children, in particular, seemed riveted on the movie so maybe I am being too harsh.  This might be a case of the movie really hitting its target demographic as my nieces and nephews are 12, 11, 10, 9 and 4 and they seemed to enjoy the whole movie.  If you have children at home, they may enjoy this movie, but I feel that there are many better movies out there to watch with your children.

Content:

This movie contains some scenes of drinking, smoking, and underage partying with teenagers drinking and making out.  The kids break a lot of laws to help Echo, lie to their parents and are running around at night to try to get Echo’s ship repaired.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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Jake and the Neverland Pirates: It’s a Winter Never Land! / Hook on Ice! (2011) Movie Review

Jake and the Neverland Pirates: It’s a Winter Never Land! / Hook on Ice! (2011)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: David Arquette, Colin Ford, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Loren Hoskins, Madison Pettis
Director: Kelly Ward, Howy Parkins, Mickey Corcoran
Series: Jake and the Never Land Pirates Season 1, Episode 24
Release Date: 2 December 2011
Language: English
Length: 25 minutes
Movie Rating: TV-G
View Format: TV
My Rating: image_thumb82_thumb1_thumb1

Synopsis:

“It’s a Winter Never Land” – Hook and his pirates don’t want to go to all of the work to decorate a tree and get presents for Merry Winter Treasure Day so they steal everything from the Lost Boys.  Jake and his pals track the pirates through icy conditions, but are unable to recover all of their decorations and gifts.  Can they all remember what is really important about Winter Treasure Day?  Will the pirates learn the true meaning of Winter Treasure Day?

“Hook on Ice!” – In the spirit of the holiday, Captain Hook asks Jake and the Lost Boys to join the pirates on the hunt for the Snow Day Treasure.  Bring your slippery, slidey things (sleds, skis and more!) and get ready for adventure!  With Jake and his team helping out, can the pirates travel down the snowy slope, trick their way past the ice ogre, and save Hook (multiple times) so they can claim the treasure?

Review:

This is a popular and fun Disney Jr. show for toddlers and preschoolers.  It is a learning show and they teach counting, critical thinking skills and other lessons in a fun and interactive way.  I typically find something in the Disney shows that entertains me as an adult and I have tried to watch this show a few times, but it is solidly made for young children and does not really have anything in it for older kids or adults.  That said, it is beautifully made and my little nephews look forward to watching it every morning.  My favorite characters are the two real-Bones and Sharkeylife pirates (Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson) who sing all of the songs for the show.  If there is anything for adults in this series, it is these two and the funny songs they sing.  Typically the songs are at the beginning and end of the episodes, however, so there is dead space in between.  If you have little boys or girls at home, this is a great show for them to enjoy watching in the mornings before they go to school.  The main character is Jake, a little devil-may-care boy who is a lot like Peter Pan, but his crew has girls, boys and animals so everyone is covered and has someone to root for.  The adult pirates are bumblers and never seem to do anything right so it is easy for the children to defeat them all the time.  Good times for kids.

This particular episode is as close to Christmas as you get with this series.  Disney has been trying really hard to make some of their children’s shows non-Hook on Icedenominational holiday celebrations and this one is no exception.  The “c” word (Christmas) is not mentioned, it is all about treasure days.  Now, children who celebrate Christmas will recognize the decorated Christmas tree and presents that Hook stole from the kids, but for those who celebrate another holiday, it is just a decoration in the series.  The spirit of the holidays is found in this show, however, and I think that it offers a great lesson about valuing friends and family and being a better person around the holidays.  Captain Hook in particular did a great job illustrating this point as he is never willing to share with anyone and is much more likely to steal.  In “It’s a Winter Never Land!,” Hook regrets stealing the presents and cannot It's a Winter Never Landeven enjoy his ill-gotten gains.  Instead, he gives them back and then Jake and his crew invite the pirates to celebrate with them.  In “Hook on Ice!,” Captain Hook asks Jake if they can help him find the treasure so that they can borrow all of their snow gear (snowboard, sled, etc.).  Then he shares the treasure with the kids at the end.  Even though it seems like every Christmas show talks about sharing and the value of giving, I don’t think that you can show your children too many examples of this in action, especially for little kids who focus so much on the getting around this time of year.

With bright, friendly colors and simple storylines, Jake and the Never Land Pirates is definitely a show that is welcome in my home for young children.  They speak slowly and clearly and have some fun, piratey songs that kids will 122428_0026enjoy.  The characters try to encourage the children watching to participate by doing motions and cheering/talking in appropriate places.  I always encourage the kids watching to follow along (usually by doing it myself) as I love that they are trying to make shows interactive.  This is a great choice to watch around the holidays, especially if you are looking for something without Santa in it (Peter Pan sent the gifts).

Content:

Appropriate for children of ages, recommended for ages 2 and up.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Christmas, Disney

Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas (2004) Movie Review

Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas (2004)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Bill Farmer, Shaun Fleming, Tress MacNeille
Director: Carole Holliday, Matthew O’Callaghan, Theresa Cullen
Series: sequel to Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas
Release Date: 9 November 2004
Language: English
Length: 68 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb85_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

This fun-filled holiday extravaganza features all of your favorite Disney characters in holiday cartoons created just for this collection!

“Belles on Ice” – When Minnie Mouse is introduced first on the ice-skating rink, Daisy Duck’s feelings are hurt.  Both Minnie and Daisy want to be the star of the ice-skating show, but their scene-stealing antics could end up ruining the show for everyone!

“Christmas: Impossible” – Huey, Dewey and Louie haven’t been very nice this year and they ended up on Santa’s naughty list.  Deciding it is impossible to do enough nice things to change Santa’s mind, they decide to break into Santa’s office in the North Pole and put their names on the nice list!

“Christmas Maximus” – Max is second-guessing his plan to bring his girlfriend home for Christmas.  He just knows that his dad, Goofy, will find new ways to embarrass him!

“Donald’s Gift” – Donald Duck is not feeling the Christmas spirit – especially when Daisy and the boys drag him off to the Donald Duck Trying to Get Hot Chocolatemall for Christmas shopping!  Everywhere he turns, someone is playing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and it is driving Donald crazy!  All he wants to do is go home and enjoy some hot chocolate.  Can Donald find a way to show he has the Christmas spirit before it is too late?

“Mickey’s Dog-Gone Christmas” – Mickey Mouse is upset when Pluto accidentally ruins the decorations for his Christmas party.  While Mickey goes shopping to find new party gear, Pluto runs away and ends up a pet for Santa’s reindeer!  But as wonderful as Pluto’s new home is, he just misses Mickey – and Mickey is missing Pluto just as much!  Will these two find their way back together to enjoy a Merry Christmas?

Review:

This is a great Christmas special to watch with children of all ages.  Little children will marvel at the amazing death-defying tricks that Minnie and Daisy Minnie Mouse & Daisy Duck on Iceperform on ice in “Belles on Ice.”  Teenagers will empathize with Max as Goofy does nothing but embarrass him while he is visiting for the holidays.  Parents will appreciate Donald’s struggle to find the Christmas spirit amidst all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  The entire special is created in CGI graphics and, while this is not my favorite format, the cartoons here were well-suited to the brightly colored, bubbly animation.

“Christmas: Impossible” is the longest cartoon in this collection at 20-25 minutes with “Christmas Maximus” the shortest at 5-7 minutes. I found something to enjoy in all of the segments, but I did enjoy the story and spirit of “Christmas: Impossible” the most.  It is always fun to travel to Santa’s workshop and see how the elves make all of the toys and get ready for the Christmas holiday!  In this cartoon, Huey, Dewey and Louie are definitely not playing nice Huey Dewie and Louie in Santa's Workshopand almost ruin the holiday for everyone to selfishly try to get more presents for themselves!  “Christmas Maximus” also struck a chord with me.  I can definitely remember being mortified by some of the things that my parents said or did – though they did nothing as embarrassing as what Goofy does! – and could appreciate Max’s position.  I couldn’t help but smile at the crazy things that happened to Goofy and particularly enjoyed the popcorn-popping scene in the kitchen!  This cartoon is the most similar to the classic Disney cartoons in length and layout.  There is very little dialogue, but Max is singing “Make Me Look Good” the whole time and it was a great way to present this cartoon.  If you pay close attention, you can hear how the song changes to match the way Max’s attitude changes towards his father.

“Belles on Ice” features Minnie, Daisy and the crocodiles and hippos from Disney’s Fantasia.  It seemed a little over-the-top and rather unbelievable, but I could definitely empathize with the attitude of the two divas featured here.  It is really difficult to step back and let someone else enjoy the spotlight!  “Donald’s Gift” provides a valuable lesson for all of us.  Donald Duck is one of my favorite characters and he is at his best/worst in this cartoon!  I look forward to Pluto with Santa's ReindeerChristmastime all year long and start watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music in November so by the time Christmas is actually here, I am totally over it!  Granted, it is my own fault for starting so early, but I just can’t help myself!  This cartoon makes fun of this trend by playing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” everywhere Donald goes – on the radio, on the phone, at the mall, etc.  It is important to remember that, while Donald may not be feeling the Christmas spirit, that does not give him – or us – the right to spoil the holiday mood for those around us, particularly our loved ones.  “Mickey’s Dog-Gone Christmas” has a similar message.  Pluto wrecked the decorations for Mickey’s party, but that doesn’t mean that Pluto ruined the holiday, despite what Mickey said to him.  Tensions often run high during the holidays and it is easy to overreact when something doesn’t go the way we planned, but it is important to remember how much we love our family and friends and forgive.  If Mickey had reacted differently, Pluto would not have run away and they would have been able to spend the holiday together rather than searching for each other.

There were some wonderful lessons to learn in Mickey’s Twice Upon a Disney Gang at ChristmastimeChristmas.  The best part about the lessons is that they are wrapped up in such entertaining trappings that children will not even know that they are learning!  This Christmas special is one that I look forward to seeing every year and I hope that it will become a holiday favorite in your house, too!

Content:

This movie is appropriate for viewers of all ages.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Disney, Halloween

My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Hundred Acre Wood Haunt (2008) Movie Review

My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Hundred Acre Wood Haunt (2008)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: My Friends Tigger & Pooh
Starring: Kimberlea Berg, Jim Cummings, Ken Sansom, Travis Oates, Peter Cullen
Director: David Hartman, Don MacKinnon
Release Date: 2 September 2008
Language: English
Length: 72 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb82_thumb1_thumb1

Related Reviews: My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Bedtime with Pooh; My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths

Synopsis:

Join Pooh, Tigger, Darby and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood on six fun-filled adventures!  Use your own super sleuthing skills to answer the questions and pick up on the clues to help the gang and solve the mystery.

Review:

“Super-Sized Darby” – When Darby (voice by Kimberlea Berg ) accidentally gets sprayed with Rabbit’s (voice by Ken Sansom) new Insta-Go Grow Potion, she Super Sized Darbygrows so big that she is taller than the trees!  At first, Darby’s height and super speed help the sleuths solve cases, but she soon learns that she can’t play with her friends, eat enough food to not be hungry or lots of other normal activities because she is too big!  This cartoon should help children appreciate their small size, even though they may not always like being the shortest in the room!  It will also be fun for them to imagine what it would be like to be huge like Darby!

“Piglet’s Lightning Frightening” – Piglet (voice by Travis Oates) makes a picnic lunch for the Super Sleuths to say thank you for all of the nice things they do, Piglet Frightenedbut a sudden rainstorm drives them inside.  When it starts thundering and the lightning slashes across the sky, Piglet is so scared that he hides under the bed!  Can the Super Sleuths help Piglet have fun during the storm?  This is the perfect cartoon to show to little ones who get a bit nervous during loud storms.  There is a clever little song about the cool percussion sounds that thunder makes and a fun game with silly faces to play during the lightning flashes.  Ultimately, we learn that friends can help you through your biggest fears.

“Eeyore’s Trip to the Moon” – Eeyore (voice by Peter Cullen) has always wanted to try rolling around in moon clover, but he doesn’t know how to get up to the Looking at the Moonmoon!  When Darby finds a moon-shaped rock on the ground and the rest of the Super Sleuths decide that they must find a way to return the rock to the moon so that it is whole again.  Now Eeyore can tag along inside the moon rocket and fulfill his dream while Darby and Tigger (voice by Jim Cummings) repair the moon!  This cartoon was one of my favorites on the DVD and it was just so cute!  Eeyore doesn’t often get a good story in the Winnie the Pooh series so it was really fun to see him so happy and excited to roll around in moon clover.  Children will get a giggle out of the antics of Pooh (voice by Jim Cummings)trying to act as mission control on the ground and Tigger trying to justify that the Hundred Acre Wood is now the moon.  This cartoon is very clever and a joy to watch – just keep an eye out for the sneaky moon woosels!

“The Incredible Shrinking Roo” – Roo (voice by Max Burkholder) is so excited to be measured after summer is over!  Roo is positive that he is taller now, but when they measure him against the same sunflower, it shows that Roo is actually shorter than the beginning of summer – he’s not growing, he’s shrinking!  Roo drinks a whole honey pot full of milk, stretches, wears one of Tigger’s shirts so he has plenty of room to grow, and lays out in the sun and has water sprinkled Incredible Shrinking Rooover him like a plant, but nothing works.  When Darby starts thinking about it, she realizes that it isn’t Roo that is getting smaller – the sunflower is getting taller!  This is a cute cartoon about getting taller and all of the things that everyone encourages you to do to make it happen: Eat your fruits and vegetables, drink your milk, exercise, stretch, buy clothes a little big so you can grow into them, etc.  Children will definitely be familiar with all of these recommendations as all of the adults in their lives are constantly reminding them what to do to grow bigger!  The ending was a cute surprise and should help children realize that there is really not much you can do to grow taller – just be healthy and happy with the size you are!

“Eeyore’s Home Sweet Home” – When Eeyore’s house is accidentally squashed during a game of Pooh Kicks, the Super Sleuths make helping Eeyore their task for the day.  They decide that, instead of repairing Eeyore’s old house, they will Eeyore Discusses His Home with Poohfind something brand new – and better!  Children will definitely find something to laugh at as they see Eeyore try to fit into all of the homes that the Super Sleuths find for him!  This cartoon teaches children the valuable lesson that different types of homes work for different types of people.  Not everyone likes the same things or has the same skills so we have to accept people as they are and help them find where they belong.

“Rabbit’s Prized Pumpkin” – Rabbit is concerned that something will damage his perfect pumpkin so he asks the Super Sleuths to take care of his valuable Rabbit's Prized Pumpkinvegetable.  But what is the best way to protect a pumpkin?  They can’t stand around in Rabbit’s pumpkin patch all day and all night so they have to come up with a way to keep the pumpkin safe, yet still let it grow!  This cartoon helps children develop critical thinking skills to solve problems.  There are many ways that you could protect Rabbit’s pumpkin and the Sleuths go through most of the obvious solutions, but these solutions will only be obvious to adults, not necessarily to children.  This one is not quite as cute or funny, but it does have some great lessons in it!

Bonus Episode:
“Handy Manny: Halloween” – Victor needs help fixing his sewing machine at the costume shop so Manny and his tools put their Halloween preparation plans on Handy Manny's Halloweenhold to go and help out!  When Manny can’t get the part that he needs to fix the sewing machine, the tools help Mr. Lopard make a costume with the extras around the shop.  The best part about this episode is that Manny takes the time to teach the tools a little bit about why we dress up in costumes (to scare the ghosts who come out on that night) and about the Hispanic equivalent to Halloween or El Dia de los Muertos (Spanish holiday around Halloween where you celebrate your dead relatives).  I also loved how they put together a creative, fun costume out of odds and ends that you can find around the house.  A costume doesn’t need to be expensive or store-bought to be great!

“Handy Manny: Squeeze’s Magic Show” – Magic Marty needs Manny’s help to fix Handy Mannyhis magic box. Squeeze is a huge fan of magic and thinks that she can do magic just like Marty does!  She talks Rusty into handcuffing himself to a handle and then can’t get him out!  Even though this episode is about magic, Manny turns it into a lesson on asking for help when you don’t know how to do something.  This is a lesson that adults need to learn, too – I hate asking for help when I don’t know how to do something!

I was hoping for a bit more from this DVD collection than I got.  I found the title to be very misleading.  It is called “Hundred Acre Wood Haunt” and the cover is My Friends Tigger & Pooh Hundred Acre Wood Hauntpretty spooky looking so I thought that there were going to be some Halloween-themed episodes on the disc, but there aren’t!  The only episode that has a Halloween theme is the Handy Manny bonus episode at the end of the DVD!  All of the My Friends Tigger & Pooh episodes take place in the spring, two of them take place when it is dark (“Piglet’s Lightning Frightening,” which starts out sunny and then turns dark & stormy and “Eeyore’s Trip to the Moon,” which takes place at nighttime, but is still pretty light due to the light of the moon), but the rest are bright and sunny, not at all Octobery or autumnal.  I think that there are going to be a lot of disappointed viewers when they discover that there are no Halloween treats on this DVD – just tricks!

Aside from the misleading packaging and title, this is a cute collection of Winnie the Pooh cartoons for little children.  Toddlers can learn and grow with Pooh and friends as they journey along new adventures in the Hundred Acre Woods.  I prefer the hand-drawn animation style, but the computer-generated format of Super Sleuthsthese cartoons grows on you after a while.  I love that they kept the personality of Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Roo and more intact for this series!  They are still just as fun and just as loveable!  My Friends Tigger & Pooh is a great choice for those of us who enjoyed watching Pooh growing up (like me) so that you can pass on the fun and create new memories.  Unfortunately, there is not much in this series for older children or adults.  Sure, they are still cute and fun, but they are definitely geared towards a very young group of children.  If you have children that are ages 1 – 3 and are looking for something short, fun, and educational, then you should give this series a try!

Content:

This DVD is appropriate for viewers of all ages.  Very young children who are not quite sure what thunder and lightning are might need a buddy to watch “Piglet’s Lightning Frightening.”  Recommended for ages 1 and up.

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Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007) Movie Review

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: Cinderella #3
Starring: Jennifer Hale, Susanne Blakeslee, Tress MacNeille, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Russi Taylor
Director: Frank Nissen
Release Date: 6 February 2007
Language: English
Length: 70 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb83_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

Cinderella and Prince Charming are celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary when disaster strikes – Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother gets her hands on the Fairy Godmother’s wand!  Cinderella’s Stepmother wastes no time turning back the clock to the Grand Duke’s visit and magically makes the glass slipper fit Anastasia’s foot.  Now Prince Charming thinks he is in love with Anastasia!  Will Cinderella be able to find her happily ever after with Prince Charming now that the past has changed?

Review:

Most Disney sequels suffer when compared to the original film that inspired them and Cinderella III is no exception.  However, if you have a princess at home who loves the original, this sequel is solid and an entertaining movie in its own right.  The storyline is actually creative and original.  Instead of trying to continue with Cinderella’s life in the Wicked Stepmother and the Fairy Godmother's Wandpalace, Disney took the story back in time and imagined what would have happened to Cinderella’s happily ever after if the Wicked Stepmother got her hands on the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand.  Now Lady Tremaine (voice by Susanne Blakeslee) has convinced Prince Charming (voice by Christopher Daniel Barnes) that he is in love with Anastasia (voice by Tress MacNeille).  This was genius as it opened up the door for a lot of humorous moments.  Anastasia and her sister, Drizilla (voice by Russi Taylor), are laugh-out-loud funny as they bicker in the palace.  Anastasia is trying to impress the prince and his father, the king, while Drizilla spends her time making catty comments and making things much more difficult.  Neither one of them have the manners of a lady and I couldn’t stop giggling at the antics of these two sisters, even though they are supposed to be the villains.

There are some really sweet messages that are contained in this movie, too.  One of them discusses how do we recognize love.  Is it by a look in their eyes or a touch of the hand?  What does love mean to you?  Anastasia has to think about these questions and other ones as she goes along with her mother’s scheme to get her married to the prince.  Ultimately, it is Anastasia who wants to be loved so badly that she is willing to pretend that the prince loves her, even though it is only due to a magical spell.  I loved getting to know Anastasia and Drizilla better in this movie and hope that Anastasia will one day find a happy ending of her own.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the music in Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.  The original songs in the movie are good and I even found myself singing along to a few of them.  “At the Ball” was by Mice Steal the Wandfar my favorite song and it is just adorable!  Jaq (voice by Rob Paulsen) and Gus (voice by Corey Burton), Cinderella’s mice friends, are trying to explain to Prince Charming what really happened the night of the ball and they have to act out the story while singing this cute little song.  This was my favorite scene in the movie and well worth watching the movie for!  “I Still Believe” is a sweet, romantic anthem about believing in love despite, or because of, what has happened in your life.  Even though I have never found love for myself, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in it!  Cinderella (voice by Jennifer Hale) has a different perspective to the song as she knows what it is like to be in love and then had it cruelly ripped away from her.  Everyone will have a different feeling about this song, but that is what I loved about it.

If you enjoy the Cinderella story, you will want to watch this sequel.  The animation is quite good, aside from a serious issue with Cinderella’s nose that really bothered me, and the music is almost theatrical release quality.  The story is solid and there are some really fun little subplots that viewers of all ages will enjoy.  Make sure that you Anastasia Gets the Slipper to Fitwatch the credits, too!  There are some clever paintings that show the Cinderella characters in famous portraits and landscapes.  If you keep watching through to the end, you will get to see what happens to the Wicked Stepmother and her equally wicked daughter, Drizilla.  There is only one bonus feature and that is a music video of Hayden Panettiere performing “I Still Believe.”  Though the video is charming, I which was a bit disappointed that there were no other special features available.  Again, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time is not as magical as the original (and, really, what is?), but there is still a great deal to enjoy in this movie.  If you have little princesses at home, you will definitely want to add this movie to your DVD collection.

Content:

This movie contains some scenes of mild peril and violence.  There are scenes of verbal arguments and disagreements.  This movie is appropriate for viewers of all ages.  Recommended for ages 2 and up.

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Winnie the Pooh (2011) Movie Review

Winnie The Pooh (2011)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: a Winnie the Pooh movie
Starring: John Cleese, Jim Cummings, Bud Luckey, Craig Ferguson, Jack Boulter
Director: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall
Release Date: 15 July 2011
Language: English
Length: 63 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb85_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

Winnie the Pooh (voice by Jim Cummings) is on the hunt for some honey when he finds a note by Christopher Robin (voice by Jack Boulter).  Unsure of what the note says, Pooh takes it to his friend, Owl (voice by Craig Ferguson), who declares that their good friend, Christopher Robin, has been captured by the Backson!  Pooh and his friends immediately band together to capture the vicious beast and save their friend.

Review:

When I first saw the new Winnie The Pooh movie, I was very disappointed.  It is so short!  I was definitely left wanting more.  I also WINNIE THE POOHfelt like they repeated the same story that is found in Pooh’s Grand Adventure where Pooh and his friends go in search of the Skull (turns out to be school) to rescue Christopher Robin.  While the story is similar, this Winnie the Pooh movie stands on its own charm and will surely be warmly received by all Pooh fans, like myself.  The music is absolutely wonderful in this movie and I found myself humming along as Winnie the Pooh (voice by Jim Cummings) sang about everything being honey and laughing out loud as Tigger (voice by Jim Cummings) tries to convince Eeyore (voice by Bud Luckey) that becoming a Tigger and hunting down the Backson is going to be great!  The music was an outstanding feature of this movie and I am sure that you will find several new Disney songs to love, just like I did!

But what Winnie The Pooh really demonstrates for me is that Disney is still the best at creating family friendly entertainment.  Sure, this movie is geared towards small children and a lot of the story and silliness is directed at them, but there is a great deal of humor that is included Stuck in the Backson Pitexclusively for older children and adults.  This is something that other studios struggle to duplicate and I miss in other animated films.  I feel that there is something special in this movie for everyone, regardless of their age, and found the movie to be very entertaining and humorous.  There are a lot of clever scenes where the Winnie the Pooh characters use almost the correct word (it sounds about right), but the word they are using transforms their statement into something quite different.  Eeyore and Pooh are convinced that Owl is sneezing, but he is saying “issue” not “achoo.”  And the scene where Piglet is saying that he cannot tie a knot kept me smiling!  For the men, you will be happy to see Rabbit (voice by Tom Kenny) organizing his friends into commando teams and peppering the forest with booby traps to try to catch the Backson – the musical effects that they used during these scenes are brilliant (I especially loved the crayons in the log)!

There is some special content at the end of the movie that you will not want to miss so do not turn off the DVD when the credits start Eeyore Trying a New Tailrolling.  First of all, all of your favorite Winnie the Pooh characters are running around in during the credits to keep you entertained.  Secondly, the Backson monster actually makes an appearance about halfway through the credits!  Thirdly, the directors show a few extended clips of the movie and a few scenes that didn’t make it into the film, which was a real shame.  And last, but certainly not least, there is an adorable cartoon about how Loch Ness was created and the monster, Nessie, came to call it her home.  My main complaint with the movie was that it needed to be quite a bit longer to be considered a true feature film.  It broke my heart to see the directors talking about pacing and not having enough time to include some of this extra material!

For Winnie the Pooh fans, there is a lot to enjoy in this Winnie The Tigger Ready to Beat Up the BacksonPooh movie.  They stayed true to the original adventures and have a narrator ( John Cleese) directing the story, as well as actual words on the screen as the movie shows the book where the story is coming from.  Everyone in the film seems to have stayed true to the characters from the original, as well, and I appreciated seeing all of my favorite Hundred Acre Wood residents in a new adventure!

Content:

This movie is appropriate for viewers of all ages.  There is a mildly scary scene where the characters are singing about the monster, but he is a very silly monster so this should not bother viewers too much.  Recommended for all ages.

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Winnie the Pooh 123’s (2004) Movie Review

Winnie the Pooh 123’s

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: a Disney Learning Adventure, a Winnie the Pooh DVD
Starring: Jimmy Bennet, Peter Cullen, Jim Cummings, Ken Sansom, Andre Stojka
Director: Gary Katona, Ed Wexler
Release Date: October 2004
Language: English
Length: 34 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb84_thumb1

Synopsis:

When Christopher Robin (voice by Tom Wheatley) invites all of his friends to a potluck party, Roo (voice by Jimmy Bennet) and Winnie the Pooh (voice by Jim Cummings) have a problem.  They are supposed to bring 10 things to the party to share with everyone else, but neither one of them knows how to count to 10!  Join Roo as he learns to count to 10 with his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood and gather 10 special things to take to the party.

Review:

When I rented this DVD, I was expecting it to be excerpts of other Winnie the Pooh episodes spliced together with a little bit of dialogue, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that this is an original episode created exclusively to help children learn how to count.  First off, let Pooh Forgets How to Countme tell you that this is one of the best counting DVDs that I have encountered.  They not only go through the numbers 1 – 10, but they discuss how they are different from letters, that they always go in a specific order and that you can count different things with the same numbers.  They teach number recognition, sequencing, counting and memorization tricks.  There is a cute little song that goes “counting, counting, numbers are for counting, numbers count the things you see…” that will definitely get stuck in your head so be ready for that!  Owl teaches Roo the difference between numbers and letters and loans him a copy of numbers 1 – 10, Rabbit teaches Roo that the sequence of numbers is important, Tigger teaches Roo that counting can be fun and they all cheer when Roo gets it right.  I also loved that they give some tips to help new counters like touching each thing when you count it (or bouncing on it if you take Tigger’s advice).

My favorite part about the DVD is that all of my favorite Winnie the Pooh characters were featured in the film and it didn’t feel like I was Rabbit Teaches Roo How to Countwatching an educational DVD.  Roo is just trying to find a way to get to go to Christopher Robin’s party and, since Pooh has forgotten how to count, he is determined to learn how to count so that they both can go to the party.  This is a problem just like all of the other problems the friends face in the Hundred Acre Wood so it felt like a normal episode to me.  The animation is top-notch quality and the vocal talents are spot on.  Roo’s voice (Jimmy Bennet) is pretty different from the original, but it is a cute voice and it will grow on you!

If you are looking for a way to teach your young child how to count in a fun way, you might want to check out this DVD.  It is fairly expensive (in my opinion) to purchase, but it would be an excellent rental if you have a Netflix membership.  Or, if you want to watch it with your children but don’t want to buy it, you can watch the whole episode at the top of this blog entry.  I rented mine and I kept it for about a month until I felt like we were ready to return it and think that it was a great way to get young children interested in counting.

Content:

This DVD is appropriate for viewers of all ages.  Recommended for ages 1 and up.

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Kronk’s New Groove (2005) Movie Review

Kronk’s New Groove (2005)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: sequel to The Emperor’s New Groove
Starring: Patrick Warburton, Tracey Ullman, Eartha Kitt, David Spade, John Goodman
Director: Saul Blinkoff, Elliot M. Bour, Robin Steele
Release Date: 13 December 2005
Language: English
Length: 72 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb82_thumb1_thumb1

Synopsis:

Yzma (voice by Eartha Kitt) has been defeated and it is now her sidekick’s turn to shine!  Kronk (voice by Patrick Warburton) is terrified when he learns his father “Papi” is coming to visit and scrambles to fulfill his father’s magic equation: a wife & kids + a big house on the hill = success.  Join Kronk on a series of hilarious adventures as he tries to please his father, only to manage to get involved in a heap of trouble!

Review:

The voice over talent is very good and the animation is solid, but there is just something missing from the movie for me so I could not rank it any higher.   It may be that The Emperor’s New Groove is not my Kronk and Yzmafavorite Disney film by a long stretch and that the sequel features all of the same characters.  It may be that the movie sometimes got a bit too silly for me to enjoy, though I am sure that this will appeal to younger children.  In Kronk’s New Groove, Kronk (voice by Patrick Warburton) is the star of the film and he is just as likeable and funny as he was in the first movie.  He is not very bright, but he is handsome and has an enviable physique.  Kronk loves to cook and is the head chef at a restaurant.  He spends his spare time working as a Junior Chipmunk leader and speaking with animals “squeaker, squeak, etc.”

There are three main sections of the movie.  The first section and the last section tell the story of Papi’s expectations of success for his only son.  In between, there are two stories that are told in flashback about Kronk’s temporary successes.  The first flashback was my favorite.  It Kronk Competing with the Junior Chipmunkstells the story of the evil sorceress Yzma (voice by Eartha Kitt) convincing Kronk to sell a youth potion to all of his friends.  Kronk makes a fortune and ends up with a beautiful mansion on the hill, but then realizes that the potion doesn’t work and he has duped all of his friends.  Should he give his friends their money back and lose his home or keep everything he has earned?  The second flashback tells the story of Kronk meeting and falling in love with Birdwell (voice by Tracey Ullman), a rival Junior Chipmunk leader who is also competing for the top troop title.  At first, they hate each other, then they fall in love over baking raisin bread only to let a misunderstanding drive them apart.

My favorite part of the film was undoubtedly the clever pop culture references peppered throughout the movie.  Kronk and Yzma’s trip to her evil lair combines “It’s a Small World” with “Splash Mountain” Thumbs Up from Papicomplete with a souvenir photo of the ride experience!  Impressions of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Evita, Saturday Night Fever disco dancing, Michael Jackson’s moonwalk (complete with sparkly glove), the infamous “king of the world” scene from Titanic, A Few Good Men (“you can’t handle the truth!”) and more can be found if you are watching carefully.  I know that they put these references in for adults and older viewers and I for one greatly appreciated it.  These small moments elevated this sequel into something more enjoyable and special for me.  I also loved Yzma’s song “A Million Bucks” and wish that there had been more original songs like this in the movie.

While Kronk’s New Groove will appeal mainly to fans of The Emperor’s New Groove and younger viewers, there is a lot to enjoy in this direct-to-DVD release.  The story is a bit sketchy, but the humor is there and viewers of all ages will find something to laugh at.  I personally love Yzma’s character and think that Eartha Kitt, who performs Yzma’s voice (and inspired her looks) is brilliant in both of the movies!  Though the movie will not appeal to all Disney fans, younger viewers, particularly boys, will enjoy having this DVD to add to their movie-watching rotation.

Content:

This movie contains some scenes with crude humor.  There are scenes of mild violence, cheating and lying.  Recommended for ages 2 and up.

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Return to Never Land (2002) Movie Review

Return to Never Land

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: Peter Pan #2
Starring: Harriet Owen, Blayne Weaver, Corey Burton, Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie
Director: Robin Budd & Donovan Cook
Release Date: 15 February 2002
Language: English
Length: 72 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: TV
My Rating: image_thumb83_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

When Jane’s father charges her with the safety of her mother and brother while he is away serving in the military, she takes her new responsibilities very seriously.  Convinced she is now too old to hear stories about Peter Pan and Captain Hook, she refuses to listen to them and argues with her little brother about them.  So when Captain Hook kidnaps her and sweeps her off to Never Land, Jane is in for a real surprise!  Determined to return home, Jane makes the mistake of trusting Captain Hook and gets Peter Pan and the Lost Boys into a great deal of trouble…

Review:

The Disney sequels are typically not as good as the originals and Return to Never Land is no exception.  Though this movie was created for theatrical release (and I saw it in the theater back in the day), there is just something Return to Never Landmissing that keeps it from being truly memorable.  All of the characters are back from the original Peter Pan movie, with the exception of Wendy and her brothers.  Instead, we have Jane, Wendy’s daughter, who is determined to be an adult even though she is clearly a child.  It was sad to see her refusing to play and to join in the antics of the other children.  I think it is important for us to remember that there is a very short time in life where children should be allowed and encouraged to act like children.  Go out and have fun, play games, take risks, learn about the world around you by exploring.  Too many parents push their children to act like adults at far too young of an age.  Though it is sweet of Jane to try to help her parents in this trying time in World War II, her mother seems more than capable of handling their physical care and just needs Jane’s support and high spirits to help her through.

The animation is top-notch.  It is simple, but everything is well drawn and Never Land is completely recognizable and loveable.  Captain Hook’s new nemesis (replacing the crocodile), is a huge octopus who got a taste of the Captain and now can’t resist trying to hunt him down.  He follows behind the Jolly Roger, Hook's Octopusbending his arms and using his suction cups to make a sound similar to the crocodile in the original.  Captain Hook’s interactions with his crew and the octopus are the best parts of the movie (Hook’s over-the-top reactions to the octopus are really funny!), but there are some cute scenes with the Lost Boys.  It was wonderful to see the children playing games and singing songs on Never Land, particularly when Jane joined in the fun and played treasure hunt with everyone else.  Little girls will thrill at the idea of being in Jane’s shoes and becoming the first Lost Girl, especially when she has to save the day at the end of the book!  Though this movie will also appeal to boys because of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, the main character, Jane, is heavily featured and seems to be geared more towards girls.

If you have little ones who are fans of the original Peter Pan, you should Jane Become a Lost Girlconsider adding Return to Never Land to your regular rotation.  It is always wonderful to return to the magical realm of Never Land, whether it is through reading the book, watching the original movie or enjoying Jake and the Never Land Pirates on TV and this movie is no exception.  Though a little lacking in spirit and not at all the storyline that I was expecting, I ultimately found Return to Never Land a sweet little tale that I will enjoy watching again in the future.

Content:

This movie contains some cartoon violence between the Lost Boys who punch each other and knock each other on their heads with clubs.  The boys talk about how they refuse to allow a girl into their club, but they eventually accept Jane.  A giant octopus keeps trying to eat Captain Hook, but he is so funny in the way he reacts and his escape attempts that it should not be scary for children.  Recommended for ages 3 and up.

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Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns! (2012) Movie Review

Jake & the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns! (2012)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: Jake and the Never Land Pirates
Starring: David Arquette, Colin Ford, Jonathan Morgan Heit, Loren Hoskins, Madison Pettis
Director: Kelly Ward, Howy Parkins, Mickey Corcoran
Release Date: 13 February 2012
Language: English
Length: 40 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb84_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

Peter Pan has returned to Neverland because he needs help – his shadow is missing!  Jake and his friends are ready to help Peter search everywhere, but Captain Hook finds Peter’s shadow first!  Without his shadow, Peter Pan is not happy enough to fly and, if he can’t fly, he can’t catch Captain Hook!  Can Jake and his crew get Peter’s shadow back?

Review:

This is such a charming special that I cannot resist watching it every time it Jake, Peter Pan and the Crewcomes on TV.  I confess that I was a bit disappointed that the Jake and the Never Land Pirates series was way too young for me to enjoy watching, but this particular feature-length episode is an exception.  The regular episodes are geared towards preschool age children (not that this would keep me from watching it if it was clever instead of just cute) and, while this “movie-length” version is also meant for the younger set, the music and details definitely enhance the show enough for older viewers to enjoy it, too.

My favorite part about this show is the music.  Most of the feature-length specials that are created out of popular TV shows are just a longer episode, but this one is something truly special. Not only is Peter Pan (voice by Adam Wylie) Peter is Too Sad to Flyback as a guest-star for this episode, but the show is packed with wonderful music!  “Here We Go, Yo Ho” will definitely play in your mind long after the movie ends, as it should, because it is wonderful!  Peter Pan sings a lovely lament about not being able to fly any more and there are several other songs included, as well. If you wait until the end of the movie, you can see two live-action pirate guys (Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson) who are part of Captain Hook’s (voice by Corey Burton ) crew singing another new song.  These two play dimwitted pirates to perfection and are a lot of fun to watch!

I also enjoyed the details that the animators included as Peter Pan, Jake (voice by Colin Ford ) and his crew traveled around Never Land.  The Tiki Trees all have different faces that change expression as you run by, the Cave of Shadows 126795_0042is delightfully spooky and the final race with pirate ships will have your little one cheering!  I believe that this series is created using CGI, but the show has a hand-drawn look, as well, which I find particularly attractive.  Your children will also be learning from Peter Pan as the episode plays.  While I found it ironic that Peter is cautioning Jake and his crew to look before they leap and to plan carefully before they take action, I guess he is the oldest person on the island!  This special features a new, more mature Peter and he helps Jake and the gang figure out how to outwit Captain Hook and eventually return Peter’s shadow to them.

If you have a little one at home, they will surely delight in watching this movie. It only runs about 40 minutes long so I am really using the term “movie” loosely, but for a younger viewer, this is the perfect length.  Packed with music, silly pirate antics and lots of adventure, this fast-paced feature will be sure to please your little pirate or princess at home!

Content:

This movie contains a mildly scary scene in a shadowy cave where things are pretty dark, but it really isn’t scary.  Recommended for ages 18 months and up.

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