Escape From Planet Earth A Fun Escape For Families

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment/The Weinstein Company

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/The Weinstein Company

Escape from Planet Earth (Anchor Bay Entertainment/Weinstein Company) was released to theaters in February 2013.  Not surprisingly, it didn’t last very long in theaters after its premiere.  The reason(s) why it didn’t last are anyone’s guess.  But the most probable of reasons would be its comparison to the 2009 family friendly CG “animated” sci-fi comedy, Planet 51.  There is no denying the comparisons to said story.  But in its defense, Planet 51 isn’t the only movie from which Escape from Planet Earth lifted.  There are also influences from the likes of Monsters, Inc. and Monsters vs. Aliens throughout this movie.  And while it does lift from previous movies, it does have some originality in terms of its messages and its comic elements.  Those comic elements include the sci-fi and pop culture spoofs made much in the same vein as in Planet 51.  The spoofs aren’t the same as in Planet 51, either.  This makes them that much funnier and helps to make up for the story’s less original aspects.

It’s difficult to honestly write this and call Escape from Planet Earth the most original movie of its kind.  That’s because of the fact that it can so easily be compared to the 2009 family friendly sci-fi comedy, Planet 51.  On the surface, Escape From Planet Earth can so easily be considered to be Planet 51 in reverse.  Instead of the human astronaut trying to escape from the alien planet, this time, it’s the aliens trying to escape Earth.  It’s not the only movie to which this work can be compared.  It can also be compared to Disney/Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. (2001).  The comparison to that movie comes in the form of General Shanker’s (William Shatner—Star Trek) soldiers.  A close look at the men will bring viewers to note that his men are always running around in yellow, rubber hazmat suits that cover their entire bodies, including their faces.  This is very much in the same style as the agents of the Child Detection Agency from Monsters, Inc.  And the general story itself makes it just as easily compared to Dreamworks’ Monsters vs. Aliens.  It’s just that movie as much in reverse as Planet 51 in reverse.  Knowing all of these influences takes away quite a bit from the movie.  But for all that is taken away from it, Escape From Planet Earth isn’t without its positives.

Writers Cal Brunker and Bob Barlen (hmmmmm Bob, planet Bob…..coincidence?) did a lot of lifting from other previous CG based family friendly sci-fi flicks to make Escape from Planet Earth.  For all of the comparisons that can be made, what can be said of this creation is that it does still manage to save itself.  It saves itself thanks to its theme of family bonds and its pop culture and sci-fi spoofs made throughout the nearly ninety minute movie.  The theme of the family bond is something that those other family films don’t have.  So this serves to help set this movie apart from those movies and give it its own identity.

Just as the movie’s theme of family bonds helps to set it apart from other movies of its ilk, the pop culture and sci-fi references made throughout the movie help to set it apart even more.  The jokes are quite plentiful throughout the course of the movie’s run time.  There are jokes about classic 1950s sci-fi flicks, conspiracy theories and even a subtle stab at director James Cameron.  It’s so subtle that if a person isn’t really watching closely, one will miss it.  Those that catch it will truly appreciate it, considering Cameron’s reputation when it comes to science fiction movies.  There are far more subtle jokes and pokes that are peppered throughout the movie.  And those that give this movie a chance will appreciate the movie even more for them.  In turn, they will see that while it may not be the most original movie in its genre, it really is a movie that is worth at least one watch.  It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from the Anchor Bay Entertainment website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=5b081188-3392-e211-b3c9-d4ae527c3b65.  Fans can also check in on all of the latest updates on new releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com.

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Modern Family A Modern Television Hit

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

ABC’s Modern Family is one of the funniest sitcoms in television today, if not the funniest.  It goes without saying that it is a modern day classic  It will make audiences who have yet to see it laugh out loud.  The show’s first three seasons are available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  Part of what has made this show such a hit is that unlike so many shows on television today, it isn’t a serial.  Its episodes are largely stand-alone episodes.  And while the humor may not be entirely family friendly, it’s not as bad as so much of what’s out there today.  That has been evident from the show’s first two seasons.

A big part of the success of Modern Family in its first two seasons is its casting.  The casting expertly mirrors modern society in that it shows how much the family dynamic has changed today.  It takes the sociological studies on the changing nuclear family and puts an entirely hilarious spin on it with the combination of the Pritchett and Dunphy families.  The Pritchett family by itself is beyond hilarious.  On the surface, it’s a multi-racial family, with Jay (Ed O’Neill) and his wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara) as the heads of the households.  Their relationship in itself puts the entire husband/wife/mother/father dynamic used in previous sitcoms completely on its ear.  Add in their son, Manny (Rico Rodriguez II) who is advanced far beyond his years, and a younger sister, and audiences get a family that more than offers its share of laughs.

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

The Pritchett family is a laugh riot in itself.  The addition of the Dunphy family, which is related to the Pritchett family through marriage, gives the Pritchett family plenty of comedic relief.  The attempts by Claire and Phil to balance their relationship with raising three kids are something to which so many parents today can relate.   Add in the interactions with the Pritchett’s and audiences get even more laughs.  The two families’ interactions within themselves and with each other make up another positive to not just the show’s third season, but its first two seasons, too.  That positive is the show’s writing.  The show’s writers have crafted a show that stands above every other sitcom on the air today.  Not since Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle have audiences been presented with such a hilarious family based sitcom.

Those who have yet to see this show might be asking at this point, it’s really that funny?  Yes it is.  Season One both on DVD and Blu-ray offer audiences a glimpse at the cast sitting down for a read through of one episode’s script.  The entire cast is cracking up throughout the read.  There is no doubt that there is chemistry both on screen and off through this.  It goes to show how close knit the family is.  Yet again, this goes to exhibit the expert level of writing behind Modern Family. Of course, the chemistry between the cast is also exhibited through the bonus cast interviews.

The cast interviews and read through are just a pair of the bonuses that make Modern Family Season One and Two so much fun.  Fans also get the standard deleted and extended scenes.  There is even a fun flash mob video led by Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) included as a bonus feature, too.  It shows just who zany Mitch is as a character, and makes his character that much funnier to watch.   There is so much more that could be discussed.  But doing so would lead to aimless rambling.  But it goes without saying that this feature and the others combined with the cast’s expert comedic timing and the writers’ equally expert scripting are solid evidence of why Modern Family is one of the best sitcoms on television today, if not the best.  The show’s first two seasons are available now in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray.

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Modern Family Season Three Keeps The “Fun” in Dysfunctional

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment/20th Century Fox Television

ABC’s Modern Family is one of the funniest shows on television today.  At a time when so much programming has leaned more toward serials, this laugh riot sitcom doesn’t require audiences to watch every single episode in order to enjoy it.  And now with the release of the show’s third full season to DVD and Blu-ray, audiences can watch even more episodes of this outrageously hilarious comedy any time they want.  Whether one is new to the show or an old hand, Modern Family Season Three continues to keep audiences laughing.  This season’s episodes are just a piece of the puzzle that makes Season Three so enjoyable.  From the episodes themselves to the set’s packaging, to something as minute as the episode menus, so much has gone into this set to make it a must have for any Modern Family fan in any family. 

Season three kicks off as the entire Pritchett and Dunphy family takes a trip to Wyoming.  The family ends up in yet another bizarre situation after a marriage proposal doesn’t exactly go as planned.  At the same time, Gloria has to fend off guest star Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother Where Art Thou?) as the cowboy Hank.  There are also the storylines involving Cam and Mitch revealing that they want to adopt a little boy, so Mitchell tries to essentially train himself in the ways of boys in order to prepare for being a father to a boy.  And of course, there is another romance, this one between young Alex and a boy named Jimmy.  What’s so amazing about this episode is that it’s one more example of the show’s ability to interweave its separate storylines without getting bogged down in itself.  This is just as much the case in the episode, ‘Express Christmas.’

 

‘Express Christmas’ sees the families get together for an early Christmas after finding out that they won’t be able to spend the big day together.  From troubles at the tree lot (including having a Christmas tree run over) to general family discord, this is one more episode that will leave audiences in tears from laughing so hard.

And what better time to release Season Three than during election season?  Season Three sees Claire Dunphy running for city council.  Both the Dunphy family and the Pritchett family do their part.  Cam and Mitchell have even decked out a car in its campaign finest.  There’s just one problem.  What started out as an attempt to help campaign for Claire turns into a power trip for the pair after Cam tells a litterbug to pick up his trash.  On the other side, Claire’s husband faces his own odds when he tries to take an elderly voter to the polls in hopes of having him vote for Claire.  Everything that goes on in this episode is a breath of fresh air, especially in a year when politics has become so divisive.  It’s nice to see something that makes light of how politicians and their constituents operate.  It helps audiences to vote in a time when politicians and voters alike have constantly been at one another’s necks, even after the election has ended.

The writing throughout Season Three is just a part of what makes this season so successful.  The menus in Season Three are just as impressive as the episodes themselves.  The menus offer viewers a quick synopsis with each episode.  It’s just enough to get audiences interested on the surface.  On a deeper level, it’s a way to save money.  Instead of having to print up an episode guide, audiences get just enough of a synopsis on screen, allowing just as much choice of episodes.  This combined with the set’s slim-line packaging makes Season Three ergonomically sound.  All three discs in the Blu-ray set have their own spot inside the case, allowing the case to be smaller.  It also protects the discs from rubbing and scratching against one another.  This in turn makes the discs viewable much longer, too.  Add that in to the outstanding writing and equally impressive cinematography and audiences get another full season of laughs from a show that truly does put the “Fun” in dysfunctional.  Modern Family Season Three is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered direct via the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment online store at http://www.foxconnect.com/modern-family-season-3-blu-ray.html.

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The Three Stooges Update Is Surprisingly Funny

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

The Farrelly Brothers’ take on everyone’s favorite comic trio is surprisingly entertaining.  On the surface, it would seem that it’s little more than the same style movie as Hollywood’s big screen reboot of Dennis The Menace or The Little Rascals.  But the reality is that those re-imaginings pale in comparison.  Sure the Farrelly Brothers have done much the same thing as what those flicks did.  But at the same time, it’s obvious that they really did attempt to pay homage to the original Stooges.

At first glance, the very thought of modernizing the Stooges makes no sense.  After the utter failures that were Dennis the Menace (and its equally awful sequels) and The Little Rascals, the natural reaction here is to shake one’s head that much the same has been done here.  And while the pop culture references abound (E.g. Jersey Shore, Geico Auto Insurance, etc.), somehow, the Farrelly Brothers managed to balance out the modernization without losing the heart that make the original Stooges so beloved to this day.  Yes, it would have been nice to see the Stooges in their original 1930s and 1940s element.  But at least in this case, the trio’s modernization doesn’t overpower the physical comedy for which Larry, Curly, and Moe became famous.

Sean Hayes (Larry), Chris Diamantopolous (Moe), and Will Sasso (Curly) weren’t the only stars of this big screen remake.  The trio’s interactions with co-stars Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), and Brian Doyle-Murray (Groundhog Day, SpongeBob Squarepants, etc.) harkens back to the original Stooges’ bits with its constant supporting cast.  It’s obvious through these interactions and the physical comedy together that despite being modernized, the Farrelly Brothers really were making a valid attempt to do more than just toss something up on screen for the sake of throwing it up on screen.  Unlike the people behind the reimaginings of The Little Rascals and Dennis the Menace, the intent behind this update was obviously to entertain and pay the deserved honor to the original Stooges and their fans, too.

The Farrellys succeeded in entertaining audiences nonstop with the combination of classic slapstick comedy.  It took center stage, rather than the updated surroundings.  The pair should also be commended for taking time immediately after the movie to warn all potentially young audiences that the gags used in the movie were not real.  They point out that the hammers, crowbars and other tools were all rubber.  And the sounds used in coordination with said tools were just that.  They were sound effects and nothing more.  They took the time to say to audiences please don’t try what they saw on screen themselves.  It’s all movie magic.  This might have been a minute factor in the grand scheme of things.  But taking such responsibility is deserving of great respect.  So thank you to the Farrellys for that.  And thank you to the Farrellys for this surprisingly entertaining update on a legendary comic act.

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