Open Up Those Notebooks: Bear Hunt–The Movie Is One Of This Year’s Best New DVD’s For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Jamhouse Records

Courtesy: Jamhouse Records

Two years ago when it released its album Bear Hunt, kindie-rock band Josh and the Jamtones surprised a lot of people. That is because the album, which was released without the backing of any record label, proved to be one of the best new children’s albums of the year. It also proved to be just as entertaining for adults. It proved to be so entertaining for so many audiences because of its originality and creativity. Even within the kindie-rock world, no other act had released an album anything like Bear Hunt. The band took one of the most famous and beloved campfire “songs” of all time in the album’s title work and completely turned it on its ear with a wonderfully entertaining group of sketches. The sketches in question were interspersed with a number of equally entertaining songs proving unquestionably exactly why Bear Hunt was (and still is today) one of the best albums both for children and adults alike. Now the Boston-based quintet has followed up the success of that album with an equally entertaining release in its new DVD Bear Hunt: The Movie. Bear Hunt: The Movie is so entertaining first and foremost simply for the fact that it did exactly what so many fans of Josh and the Jamtones had hoped for. It brings to life (so to speak) the story presented on the band’s 2013 album. Its stylistic approach is more than any fan could hope to see. The use of the hand crafted puppets and backdrops together makes for its own entertainment value. The look of the puppets and backdrops couples with Josh and Patrick’s own performances make the sketches all the more entertaining and in turn the DVD itself that much more worth the watch. The sketches that lie at the heart of Bear Hunt: The Movie more than make the band’s new DVD worth the watch with their look and acting. Just as noteworthy are the companion music videos that round out the DVD. The videos that complement Bear Hunt: The Movie make it even more worth the watch. They include songs both from Bear Hunt: The Album and from the band’s other works. The combination of their fun sound and equally entertaining look rounds out the reasons that any family should check out this DVD. Whether for the videos or for the sketches, both parts of this DVD make it a great addition to any family’s home library. The elements tied into the sketches and videos (their look and sound) make the DVD even more worth the purchase. And when they are all taken into consideration together, they prove Bear Hunt: The Movie to be an early candidate for this year’s list of the best new DVDs for children and families.

The companion to its full-length 2013 album Bear Hunt, Josh and the Jamtones’ new DVD Bear Hunt: The Movie is an easy, early candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families. The central reason that it is so deserving of this honor is the quartet of sketches that were lifted directly from the band’s album. They are stylistically everything for which fans had hoped after hearing them two years ago on Bear Hunt: The Album. The design of the characters’ puppet figures and backdrops in each sketch are themselves unlike anything that any other kindie-rock act is using today. It is difficult to fully put into words just how that look makes the sketches so enjoyable. Audiences will understand when they watch the sketches for themselves. Audiences can get a glimpse of one of the sketches online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHwovF_zCzY. The understanding of the song gained in watching just this skit will lead any viewer to agree fully as to why the primary sketches included on Bear Hunt: The Movie more than make their own reason to pick up the whole DVD.

The look of the sketches that lie at the heart of Bear Hunt: The Movie on its own more than makes this DVD a welcome addition to any family’s home library. The acting on the part of Josh and Patrick adds even more enjoyment to the sketches and even more reason for any family to add this DVD to its home library. What audiences get in Josh and Patrick’s performance isn’t just a couple of guys handling cardboard string puppets. The puppets themselves have been rather intricately designed for maximum suspension of disbelief. The duo’s different reactions portrayed in each of the sketches makes the pair’s acting even more believable and in turn entertaining. Josh’s outrageous reaction in being told about the single, child sized bed in the duo’s room, the duo’s comic timing in its discussion about Josh’s purple teddy bear, and the guys’ eventual meeting with the “evil scary bear” all prove this argument. Each moment will leave adults laughing just as *ahem* ferociously as their younger counterparts. Yes, that bad pun was fully intended. That laugh riot acting in each of the sketches makes each one entertaining in its own right. And taken into consideration with the look of the skits, both elements show plenty of reason for ay family to add this DVD to its ow home library.

The central skits that make up Bear Hunt: The Movie and their incorporated elements–their look and comic acting–make for plenty of reason for any family to add Bear Hunt: The Movie to its own home DVD library. For all of the enjoyment offered by these elements, there is still more to note in regards to what makes this DVD so enjoyable for audiences of all ages. Just as worth noting as the aforementioned elements are the music videos that accompany the skits. The music videos in question come from both songs included on Bear Hunt and from the band’s previous works. Among those songs/videos included from Bear Hunt: The Album were: ‘Fill It Up,’ ‘Snow Day,’ and ‘Swing Low,’ which opens the album. ‘The videos for ‘John Jacob,’ ‘Jump Up!,’ and ‘Iko Iko’ are new additions to the DVD. All three of those songs were taken from the band’s 2012 album Jump Up. There’s just as much to say about these videos as the sketches that sit at the heart of the DVD. The videos themselves make a great introduction to Josh and the Jamtones’ music for anyone that might not be so familiar with the band’s music. The laid back groove of ‘Fill It Up’ coupled with its simple, positive lyrics is just one example of why the videos make for a great introduction. Front man Josh Schrieber sings about spreading the love and “filling up” the world with love. It’s a great message. And coupled with the song’s video, it becomes an even stronger example of what makes this band so great. The look of the video (and the other videos) will be discussed later. For now, the focus will remain on the songs themselves. Getting back to that, the video for ‘Iko Iko’ presents yet another great tune from one of the greatest family acts out there today. Audiences will be interested to know that this is actually a cover song. It was originally written and recorded by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford.” It was made even more famous in 1965 by a group known as The Dixie Cups. Through some research, the song’s words translate roughly to, “Listen listen!/Listen listen at the rear/It’s very good at the rear/It’s a very good year.” The lyrics are a mix of Louisiana Creole and Native American. It’s interesting considering the song’s history. Regardless, the rendition performed here is still a fun piece. And then there is the band’s original work ‘Snow Day.’ Considering all of the snow that has been pounding the Northeast and Midwest this year, it’s a fitting song for any family in those regions. Most of the song centers on the joy that kids feel at having a snow day but then throws a curveball in the mix. That curveball won’t be given away for those that haven’t heard it. though it can be said that the evil scary bear makes an appearance in the video. The song’s video was recently released online and can be viewed online via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHwovF_zCzY. Getting on the topic of the videos themselves, the varied look of the videos makes them even more of a bonus.

The videos that accompany the Bear Hunt sketches on Bear Hunt: The Movie are a huge positive to the presentation simply for the fact that they make for a great introduction to those not so familiar with Josh and the Jamtones’ musical body of work. This is especially the case being that some of the videos included on the DVD are companion pieces to songs included on Bear Hunt: The Album. The look of the videos makes them even more of a positive. None of the videos included on the DVD look like one another. The video for ‘Iko Iko’ is a lyric video while the video for ‘John Jacob’ is a wonderfully entertaining work that stands out stylistically from any other animated music video or even cartoon out there. Hand crafted or not, it is next to impossible to tell if it was crafted by hand or by computer. That is a testament to those responsible for bringing this video to life. The video for ‘Swing Low’ presents Josh and the Jamtones in a live setting, giving audiences a glimpse into the band on the road. And the companion video to ‘Snow Day’ is something that cannot be explained in words. it must be seen to be understood. Again that video is available online now from the band on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHwovF_zCzY. The simplicity of front man Josh Schrieber singing ‘Fill It Up’ against footage of the band’s “HQ” being established is just as entertaining. Whether it be these videos or the accompanying video for ‘Jump Up!,’ the various styles of the videos and the positive messages contained within the songs shows clearly why the videos that are included as part of Bear Hunt: The Movie are just as important to its success as the sketches at the DVD’s center. All together all of these elements prove Bear Hunt: The Movie to be a must have for any family and one of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families.

Bear Hunt: The Movie boasts plenty of positives as has already been noted. The sketches that lie at the heart of the DVD make the DVD well worth the watch by themselves. The music videos that accompany the sketches add even more enjoyment to the DVD. That is thanks both to the band’s stylistic approach to the videos (and the sketches) and to the fun, overall content of each song and sketch. All combined, the sketches and videos that make up this DVD more than make it worth the purchase. They also combine to make it one of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families. It can be purchased at any Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant nationwide and can be ordered online direct from Josh and the Jamtones’ website at http://joshandthejamtones.com. It is also going to be made available as an app via the iTunes app store very soon. More information on this and other releases from Josh and the Jamtones is available online along with all of the latest news from the band at:

Website: http://joshandthejamtones.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoshTheJamtones

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheJamtones

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Josh And The Jamtones To Release Bear Hunt: The Movie Next Week

Courtesy:  Jamhouse Records

Courtesy: Jamhouse Records

Josh & The Jamtones will release brand new DVD Bear Hunt: The Movie next week.

The band announced this week that it will release its new DVD next Wednesday, January 21st via Jamhouse Records. It is the companion to the band’s independently released album Bear Hunt (2013). The DVD features four “real-time” animation clips of band members Josh Shriber and Pat Hanlin’s trek to find the fabled “evil scary bear” that lives on Bear Mountain. The sketches were written and performed by Shriber and Hanlin. Also featured on the DVD along with the sketches is a handful of music videos that are mixed in with the Bear Hunt! Story. The videos are both live action and animated.

Bear Hunt: The Movie will be available exclusively at participating Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants across the country. Along with selling the DVD in participating restaurants, the band’s partnership with Chuck E. Cheese’s sees the band being named a “featured band” for the nationally-known chain. This means that along with being able to purchase the band’s new DVD in-store, the band’s music videos and clips from the movie will be played at the restaurants’ in-store screens throughout the year. Shriber discussed the deal in a recent interview, noting the importance and significance of getting into one of the biggest kid-friendly restaurant chains in the country. “We’re so grateful for the opportunity to partner with such an awesome company,” he said. “Working with Chuck E. Cheese’s has given our little indie flick a real chance to be seen on a national and international level.” The movie was funded entirely via Kickstarter with a total funding of over $25,000 from some 136 backers.

As well as being available in participating Chuck E. Cheese’s in America and Canada, audiences will also be able to get Bear Hunt: The Movie online via iTunes, Amazon, and the band’s official website http://www.JoshandtheJamtones.com. More information on Bear Hunt: The Movie and the movie’s official trailer is also available online at http://www.BearHunttheMovie.com. More information on Josh and the Jamtones including its latest live dates and updates is available online at:

Website: http://www.JoshandtheJamtones.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoshTheJamtones

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Curious George Premieres New Season Dec. 3rd

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Kids Go!

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Kids/PBS Kids Go!

PBS and PBS Kids are bringing back Curious George for a seventh season.  Everybody’s favorite little primate pal comes back with a whole new season of adventures, fun and learning beginning this Monday, December 3rd.  The first new episode of the season sees Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat taking a trip down under.  It will guest star Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late Steve Irwin.  The young Irwin even gets her chance to spread her vocal wings as she gets her own song in this episode.  When the pair goes down under to the Aussie Outback, they meet Bindi and her mom.  George discovers kangaroos for the first time and even learns how to make a home-made watering hole while the Man with the Yellow Hat goes off with Bindi and her mom to take pictures of sea cows.

In the second half of Monday’s season premiere, George and his friends Bill and Allie learn about the Persied meteor shower.  “Bright Lights, Little Monkey” starts off with Allie telling George and Bill about “The Perseids.”  She tells them they’re nocturnal creatures and tells them she’s going to go hunt for them.  In the process of searching for the elusive “Perseids”, the trio also learns about communication through Morse code and other non-verbal means.  In the end, it turns out that the three had seen the Perseids after all.  That’s all on Monday, December 3rd.

On Tuesday, December 4th, George and the Man with the Yellow Hat go on a nature outing that leads George to make friends with a young otter pup.  He also has to get a very important key back from the young otter when the two get to playing too much.  The key is so important because it’s the last of a group of keys that had all fallen down drains.  What’s funny about those keys is where they turn up in the episode’s end.

The second half of Tuesday’s new episode sees George taking part in his very first ever community theater event.  It’s a medieval play.  As George helps out with the play, he falls asleep and dreams the he really is in medieval times and that he has to fend off a “dragon.”  This gives George an idea about how to keep the “dragon” away in the play that he is helping with.  The idea in question is something that kids and their parents will have to discover together for themselves as “Sir George and the Dragon” airs this Tuesday, December 4th on PBS Kids.

Last up in next week’s trio of new episodes is a pair of new episodes slated to air Wednesday, December 5th.  George’s canine companion, Hundley makes friends with a caterpillar in the first half of this episode in “Hundley, Jr.”  The caterpillar is on a bouquet of flowers that is delivered for one of the tenants in Hundley’s building.  At first, Hundley doesn’t like the caterpillar.  But then realizing how similar the two were in his mind, the more he likes the caterpillar.  So he does everything he has to in order to protect the now named “Hundley, Jr.”  IN the long run, it teaches a valuable lesson about letting go and about responsibility in general.  It makes for a great episode for parents and kids to watch together.

Next week’s brand new episodes finish off with the second half of Wednesday’s brand new show in “Curious George Gets Winded.”  This is a clever name for this episode as it’s an episode that teaches about problem solving skills.  When George’s friend Bill sets out to win a special paper delivery award, George helps Bill figure out the best way to deliver the newspaper in the snow.  It involves a sled and a sail, along with learning how to steer the sled.  Both kids and their parents will cheer on George and Bill as they figure out how to beat the clock as they deliver the paper to everyone.  It’s a nice finish for the week’s new episodes and a perfect fit being that the weather is beginning to turn colder.  Together with the week’s other episodes, all three days’ new episodes are a great chance for kids and parents to sit down together and enjoy another of PBS Kids’ best shows.  Parents can check their local listing for air times in their area online at http://pbskids.org/curiousgeorge/tv_schedule/

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.