Veggie Tales’ Latest Is More Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy: Big Idea

Big Idea’s latest release in the Veggie Tales franchise is another family friendly story that not only re-tells a classic literary tale, but also maintains the Christian values that have made this franchise such a favorite ever since its very first ever release.

The Penniless Princess re-tells the classic story of A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  This story sees the shoes filled by Shirley Temple in 1939 replaced by the voice of Anna Grace Stewart.  The latest story stays closer to the original book than the Shirley Temple rendition.  And while it does maintain the Christian values for which the franchise has become known, it isn’t overly preachy.  This in itself is a bonus for parents.  The lesson that people can be friends regardless of their social class is both secular and Christian at the same time.  That, again, makes this a wonderful program for parents with young children.  Parents will also appreciate the sing-along songs.  As their children will sing every word to every song.  The bonus features included on this disc add to the enjoyment.  Both parents and children will enjoy the mini guided tour of London.  And parents will love hearing the voice cast and everyone else behind the toon talk about how it was brought to life.  Perhaps the only downside to the entire presentation is the random middle segment with the two friends texting each other on their phones.  It is completely out of place in the special.  And as randomly as it comes into play, it will leave both parents and kids questioning what it’s doing there.  Other than that, this is one more enjoyable feature for the whole family.

“The Penniless Princess” will be available in stores and online Tuesday, August 14th.  It can be ordered online at http://store.veggietales.com.  While families wait for the new DVD to come out, they can take their kids to http://veggietales.com and play lots of family friendly games. 

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The Gruffalo’s Child is a rare welcome sequel

Courtesy: NCircle Entertainment/Magic Light

Three years ago, one of the most unlikely family hits was released to dvd in the form of The Gruffalo.  The Gruffalo was about a little mouse who inadvertently creates a creature called The Gruffalo in an attempt to escape being eaten by a fox, an owl and a snake.  Now, fans of that hit will be treated to its sequel on August 14th in The Gruffalo’s Child.

Author Julia Donaldson notes in the behind the scenes feature included in the dvd presentation of The Gruffalo’s Child that this sequel was not originally planned after the publication of The Gruffalo.  She notes that after The Gruffalo was originally published, she went to work on a number of other books.  But then The Gruffalo’s Child came along.  And audiences can say that for once, it’s nice to see a sequel that meets the bar set by the original. 

In The Gruffalo’s Child, the mouse (voiced again by James Cordon) has to outsmart the younger Gruffalo, so as to not be eaten by her.  She is voiced by Shirley Henderson.  Cordon is joined again by Tom Wilkinson as the Fox, John Hurt as the Owl, and Rob Brydon as the slippery snake.  Helena Bonham Carter returns again, too, as the voice of the mother squirrel, who tells the story of what happened when the Gruffalo’s child went off into the deep dark woods in search of the big bad mouse.  She tells her children of how tthe Gruffalo’s child–who is unnamed–meets the snake, the owl, and the fox.  Each one tells the Gruffalo’s child of where they believe the mouse is, until she finally comes face to face with the creature that scared her father so badly yeas ago.  How the mouse outsmarts the Gruffalos’ child won’t be revealed here.  But it’s worth its own share of laughs.

The story behind The Gruffalo’s Child is a wonderful story for the entire family.  But the story itself isn’t all that makes this dvd so impressive.  Just as the original story of The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child is simple in its presentation and its music.  It even makes some subtle statements along the way.  Unlike so many other “animated” movies out there, The Gruffalo’s Child  is a mix of claymation and CG, rather than being entirely CG-based.  The comparisons to The Fantastic Mr. Fox are inescapable.  That aside, being that so few “animated” features out there take this hybrid course, it helps The Gruffalo’s Child to stand out just as much as The Gruffalo.  The Gruffalo’s Child also boasts the same music as The Gruffalo.  It’s a simple soundtrack that actually serves to heighten the emotion of each scene, rather than simply be background noise.  And the subtle statements included in the story range from lessons about children needing something in which to believe to that inate need that each person has to be scared at least to some extent.  Given these may have been totally unintentional statements.  But they are there.

The Gruffalo’s Child is a simple movie.  Its run time is noted as forty minutes on the case.  However, the actual presentation itself is just over twenty-five minutes.  That’s a perfect run time for the attention span of younger audiences.  Combine that in with the overall simple presentation and story, and audiences of all ages are offered what is one of the year’s best “animated” family features.

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