The Native Howl Launches New Tour; Debuts New Video

The Native Howls is back out on the road.

The band launched a new series of live dates Monday in Burlington, VT.  The band’s new tour schedule runs through July 13 in Boggstown, IN. The tour schedule is noted below.

The Native Howl Tour Dates:
7/4 – Richmond, VA – Canal Club
7/5 – Washington DC – Hill Country DC
7/6 – New York, NY – Hill Country NYC
7/8 – Frostburg, MD – Dante’s Bar
7/9 – Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
7/10 – Nashville, TN – The End
7/11 – Louisville, KY – The Tiger Room
7/12 – Cincinnati, OH – Stanley’s Pub
7/13 – Boggstown, IN – Summer Bash 2019

The tour is just the latest in support of the Michigan-based band’s latest album, Out of the Garden and Into Darkness (2018).  It comes two months after the band held its “Torque Tour” May 2 to 11. Out of the Garden and Into Darkness spawned the single ‘Somethin’ Else‘ and its companion video, which debuted Oct. 24.

Prior to launching its new tour, the band debuted the video for its new single ‘Harvester of Constant Sorrow‘ June 23.  The song and video are not featured in Out of the Garden and Into Darkness.  the video couples elements of Metallica’s ‘Harvester of Sorrow’ with Union Station’s ‘Man of Constant Sorrow,’ which was used in Touchstone/Universal Pictures’ 2000 movie O BrotherWhere Art Thou? and the movie’s soundtrack.

Courtesy: FM Music Management

The song’s video also spoofs the famous concert hall scene in which the Soggy Bottom Boys performed “their” song and couples that with a spoof of Metallica’s video for ‘Harvester of Sorrow’ for the final product.

The Native Howl front man Alex Holycross talked about the video’s concept in a recent interview.

“”I was out for a run last Fall and was contemplating all the “mash-ups” that were popular at the time,” he said. “These mash-ups were simply audio of two different songs spliced together and over each other (a popular one at the time was a combination of audio from “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin and “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath). I then thought about an online poll we had done with our fans in which we asked which song they’d like us to cover (even though we did not really have a concrete intention of doing so at the time). The most requested song by FAR was “Man of Constant Sorrow”. I then glanced at my Metallica ring on my right hand, and thought ‘what if we did a true mash-up of this with a Metallica song?’ Then it hit me: Harvester of Constant Sorrow!” Metallica may be our biggest influence collectively as a band, and “Man of Constant Sorrow” is definitely my favorite bluegrass song of all time. We have always been against the idea of doing cover songs, but this endeavor was exciting to us both conceptually and compositionally.”

Holycross added, “The video is always the most difficult part, and we lend our unending thanks to our brother and studio partner Joe Horsch for crushing that portion of the project, as always. As far as the song itself goes, it was as much of challenge as it was a joy to find creative ways to put the Howl’s spirit and collective mind into two iconic songs, and end up with a piece that we were proud of. Selecting which vocals to use from which sections of each song was a long conversation, as well as the arrangement of the fast ‘cut-time’ (albeit ‘Metallica-esque’ in nature, it is original Howl riffs and solos). The concept for the video was quite simple: recreate scenes from the movie “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou” (which made “Man of Constant Sorrow” a hit) and scenes from Metallica’s “One” video. Both the movie and music video have had such an influence on us, that we wanted to pay homage visually as well as sonically. We hope everyone enjoys the song and video, thanks for the support!”

‘Harvester of Constant Sorrow’ is just the latest song from The Native Howl to receive its own video treatment.  The band also released a video for its single ‘Thunderhead‘ in 2016.  The song was the lead single from the band’s 2016 EP Thrash Grass.

More information on The Native Howl’s upcoming live dates is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://www.thenativehowl.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/thenativehowl

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/thenativehowl

 

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.

 

Arrow Films Hits Another Bulls Eye With ‘Killer Tomatoes’ Sequel Re-Issue

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Visual

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Visual

It is hard to believe but nearly thirty years have passed since the indie spoof flick Return of the Killer Tomatoes was originally released by KT Entertainment and New World Pictures.  More specifically 28 years have passed since its original release.  And at last check roughly eight years have passed since the cult classic was released on DVD.  That release was via independent studio Anchor Bay Entertainment.  Now thanks to another independent studio—Arrow Films—it has received its first Blu-ray treatment.  Released on June 28th, the movie’s new Special Edition Blu-ray presentation is another must have for any true movie buff.  That is due in part to the movie’s writing, which includes not just its story but its smaller items, too.  This will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation as its writing.  The bonus material included in the movie’s new Special Edition Blu-ray platform rounds out the movie’s most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way to the movie’s presentation.  Together, they make this new re-issue one of the year’s only truly welcome sequel even being a previously released movie.  It is again, one more absolute must have for any true movie buff.

Arrow Films’ new re-issue of Return of the Killer Tomatoes is an absolute must have for any true movie buff.  It is also one of 2016’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  That is due in part to the movie’s writing.  This includes both the movie’s story and the script’s smaller details (E.g. dialogue, story-telling, etc.).  In an age when sequels are churned out just for the sake of being churned out, very few of said offerings offer anything substantial for audiences.  This sequel however is the exact opposite.  It is a full-on nonsensical story that takes every opportunity to entertain audiences.  It sees the evil Professor Gangreen (John Astin—The Addams Family, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Recess)  crafting a new way to use tomatoes to take over the world.  This time he has found a way to turn tomatoes into humans and vice versa using toxic waste, music, and a special chamber.  When Tara, (Karen M. Waldron—Space Cowboys, The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, Coach) one of Professor Gangreen’s tomato/human hybrids runs away from his mansion with her furry tomato friend “FT” the story is eventually set in motion.  She tries to hide her true identity from boyfriend Chad Finletter (Anthony Starke—Prison Break, The Magnificent Seven, The George Carlin Show) things begun to unravel, leading to lots of trouble.  Of course the story does have a happy ending.  Even greater about the whole story is that despite its title there are never any killer tomatoes in the movie.  The whole movie centers on Professor Gangreen’s attempt to turn tomatoes into humans and Chad’s eventual plan to stop Gangreen’s plan.  It makes the movie’s title that much funnier in hindsight.  The story and title are just a portion of what makes the movie’s writing so important to note here.  The smaller details of the movie’s script are just as important to note as its story in examining the importance of the movie’s writing.

The story at the center of Return of the Killer Tomatoes is undeniably important to note in examining the movie’s writing.  It is just as important to the movie’s overall presentation as to just the writing.  It is only one part of the movie’s writing that should be considered, though.  The scripts smaller details are just as important to note in examining its importance as its story.  One of the most notable of those details is the story’s constant, deliberate breaking down of the fourth wall.  Sometimes it is overly blatant, which makes for plenty of laughs.  At other times it is a little bit more subtle but still just as deliberate.  This still makes for its own share of laughs, too.  One of the funniest of those overtly deliberate moments comes late in the movie as the “director” stops the filming and claims that there is no more money to film the movie.  This leads lead star George Clooney (yes, that George Clooney) tells everyone that they should consider using product placement, since, after all, it is the 80s.  His delivery in this moment is one of the examples of what makes the cast’s work so entertaining.  It will be discussed later.  The very fact that the movie’s writing team would so openly make a joke about product placement in movies, and then proceed to use said practice as its own joke within the story is absolutely hilarious.  It is just one example of the importance of the script’s smaller elements in its overall presentation.  Igor’s (Steve Lundquist—Earth Girls Are Easy, Killer Tomatoes Eat France, Killer Tomatoes Strike Back) aspiration to be a newsman is another example of the importance of the script’s smaller details.

That the movie consistently lets audiences know that they are watching a movie by breaking that fourth wall is an important piece of the movie script.  It is a smaller detail within the movie’s writing.  But it does so much to entertain audiences and advance the story.  That is because neither the writers nor the cast take themselves the least bit seriously at any moment in which this happens.  Igor’s drive to become a newsman all while being Gangreen’s oafish henchman is another of those small yet so entertaining elements of the script.  He is so set on being a newsman that (as is revealed later in the movie) his room in Gangreen’s mansion is a virtual shrine to some of the most well-known news broadcasters of the time.  There is even a picture of one of those figures surrounded by candles, as if it was an altar to her.  As if that isn’t enough, he even drives around in a garbage truck with the sign of a news station that he has made up himself.  Speaking of the news, the writers also poke fun at the news media in the bigger picture of the story.  This is yet another of the script’s smaller yet still so entertaining elements.

The blatant breaking of the fourth wall throughout Return of the Killer Tomatoes and the character depiction of Igor are two smaller yet still entertaining elements of the movie’s script.  They are just as important in examining the importance of the movie’s writing as the movie’s story.  They are hardly the only important details to note in examining the importance of the movie’s writing.  The writers’ poke at the news media is just as notable as the previously noted elements.  Time and again, the writers poke fun at the broadcast news media showing its willingness to do whatever it takes to get people to watch.  The sad reality is that this depiction is actually quite accurate even today.  Sure there’s a certain amount of embellishment in at least one scene.  But in the bigger picture of that depiction, it is pretty spot on even now nearly thirty years after this movie originally premiered.  Considering this it makes this element even funnier, and shows once again why the script’s smaller elements are just as important to the movie’s overall writing as the movie’s story.  There are so many other elements and moments that could be cited in exhibiting what makes the script’s smaller elements so important.  Audiences will have to discover them for themselves.  Moving on, the work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note in the movie’s overall presentation as its writing.

The writing at the center of Return of the Killer Tomatoes is hugely important to note in considering what makes this movie such a fun flick.  From its full-on nonsensical story to its smaller yet equally nonsensical elements the writing forms a solid foundation for the movie.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as solid of an addition to that foundation beginning with that of John Astin.  Astin is just as *ahem* kooky (just not spooky) here as he was as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family.  The distant look in his eyes as he delivers his lines makes his bizarre delusional personality entirely believable and so hilarious at the same time.  George Clooney is just as entertaining as Chad’s friend Matt Stevens.  It is interesting to note Matt’s womanizing ways and the kind of characters that he has played since.  Given, Clooney was already in television before joining the movie’s cast.  However, one can’t help but wonder if this role played any part in the roles that he would take on in the years to come.  Case in point his character on Roseanne.  He was very similar in his suave, confident womanizing personality.  J. Stephen Peace cannot be ignored in examining the work of the movie’s cast either.  He is wonderful as the Tomato War hero Wilbur Finletter.  He is so impressive in his portrayal as it is so much along the lines of the stereotypical war veteran presented in other comedies.  That is evident in his one-track mindset and his firm beliefs as a result of his experiences.  It is just one more way in which the cast’s work proves to be so important to the movie’s presentation and hardly the last.  Anthony Starke is just as hilarious as Wilbur’s nephew.  Even Waldron shines as Tara in her own right.  Whether through her performance, that of Starke, or any of the movie’s other cast members, the fact remains that the work of the cast in whole is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation as its writing.  It is also not the last of the movie’s most important elements.  The bonus material that is included in the movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is just as important to note as its writing and the work of its cast.

The writing behind Return of the Killer Tomatoes and the work of the movie’s cast are both integral in the movie’s overall presentation.  Each element makes the movie hugely entertaining in its own right.  Collectively they reveal the movie to be just as underappreciated as it is entertaining.  That says plenty.  The combination of those two elements only does so much for the movie, though.  The movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue also includes a feature-length commentary from writer/director John De Bello and Michael Felsher, from Red Shirt Films that is just as entertaining in its own right as the movie’s writing and the cast’s work on camera.  Audiences learn in hearing the commentary that this movie in particular only happened because there was actually demand for the movie on the part of audiences who had watched the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  De Bello jokes here about it when comparing that demand to Hollywood’s current practice of announcing sequels for movies before said movies’ progenitors have even hit the big screen.  He hit the nail right on the head there.  That didn’t use to be Hollywood’s practice.  But now it’s become the norm for Hollywood, a way of life for the industry almost.  De Bello also reveals that New World Pictures didn’t want the movie to look too good because it was, after all, a spoof.  This is all within the first ten minutes of the movie or so.  There is also a discussion later on the casting of Anthony Starke and George Clooney that leads to a separate yet insightful discussion on the transition of TV stars to the big screen at the time.  It is interesting to learn that, at the time, it was basically a death sentence for an actor’s career when a TV actor tried to make the jump to movies.  All of this is just a glance into the commentary provided within the movie.  There is so much more entertainment and information provided throughout the course of the movie’s hour and thirty-nine minute run time.  Audiences will find their own favorite information and entertainment from the commentary when they watch this new Blu-ray re-issue for themselves.  That overall entertainment and information joins with the movie’s writing and the cast’s work to make the movie’s overall presentation lots of fruity (tomatoes are NOT vegetables.  See what I did there?) and funny entertainment for any true movie buff.

Return of the Killer Tomatoes is one of 2016’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  It is an absolute must have for any true movie buff.  That is proven clearly in the movie’s script.  Both the story at the center of the movie and its smaller elements are so nonsensically funny that one can’t help but laugh.  That is exactly what the cast and crew wanted after all.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as enjoyable as that of the movie’s writing team.  The cast’s interpretation of the script and characters will keep audiences laughing just as loudly as the story and its smaller items.  The bonus, feature-length commentary adds even more enjoyment to the movie.  That is because of the jokes and information that are shared throughout.  By now it should be clear just how important each element is to the overall presentation of Return of the Killer Tomatoes in its new Blu-ray re-issue.  All things considered this new re-issue reminds audiences just why it is such an undervalued movie.  They show why the movie, now in its new Blu-ray re-issue is an absolutely must have for any true movie buff and one of the year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  It is available now and can be ordered online direct via Arrow Films’ online store.  More information on this and other titles from Arrow Films is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ArrowFilms

 

 

 

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 reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Arrow Video, MVD To Unleash The Killer Tomatoes Again This Summer

Courtesy:  Arrow Video/MVD Visual

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Visual

Arrow Video and MVD Visual have partnered to re-issue one of the best of the worst B-movies in Hollywood history this summer when they release Return of the Killer Tomatoes.

Arrow Video and MVD Visual will release Return of the Killer Tomatoes on Tuesday, June 28th.  The movie, originally released in 1988, is the sequel to the campy 1978 action horror Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  The movie picks up a decade after the Great Tomato War. The world still lives in fear of another attack from the killer tomatoes.  The evil madman Professor Gangreen (Jon Astin – The Addams Family, Recess, Taz-Mania) preys on that fear and creates an army of tomato militia men in yet another attempt to take over the country.  It just so happens that these “men” look quite a bit like real men.  The movie also stars a then very young George Clooney (O Brother, Where Art Thou!, Roseanne, ER) as Matt Stevens, Chad Finletter’s (Anthony Starke – Prison Break, The George Carlin Show, License To Kill) roommate.  Chad is the nephew of Wilbur Finletter (played once again by J. Stephen Peace – Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Happy Hour, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes TV Series).

Return of the Killer Tomatoes will be released Tuesday, June 28th.  It will be available in stores and online exclusively on Blu-ray and can be ordered direct online via MVD Visual’s online store at http://mvdb2b.com/s/ReturnOfTheKillerTomatoes/AV057.  More information on this and other titles from MVD Visual is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.mvdb2b.com

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

 

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.

Anchor Bay Announces Home Release Date, Details For ‘At Middleton’

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay Entertainment will release its new romantic comedy At Middleton this Spring.

At Middleton will be released on Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday, April 1st.  It features an all-star cast headed by Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel, Up in the Air) and Andy Garcia (Ocean’s Eleven, City Island).  It also stars Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story), Spencer Lofranco (Jamesy Boy), Peter Riegert (Dads), and Tom Skerritt (Picket Fences).  The story follows George (Andy Garcia) and Edith (Vera Farmiga) as they meet while joining their children on a tour of the campus of Middleton College.  The pair meet thanks to a divide between themselves and their children.  Their meeting leads to a reminiscing of their own college years.  That reminiscing leads to personal revelations for both figures.

At Middleton has been praised by both audiences and critics alike.  New York Times writer Neil Genzlinger wrote of the movie, that it is “delicate and restrained” and “a surprise of a film.”  Rex Reed writes for The New York Observer.  He wrote of Farmiga’s performance that it was her “best role since she tamed George Clooney in Up in the Air.  Kudos have come in from other major media outlets including: NPR, The Huffington Post and many others; each one as complimentary as the last.

Audiences are treated to a number of bonus features in the home release of At Middleton.  There is an audio commentary with director/co-writer Adam Rogers, producer/co-Glenn German, and producer/actor Andy Garcia.  Also included as bonuses are: a gag reel and bonus music track of ‘There Was A Day.’  Andy Garcia wrote the song’s lyrics and sang the song and partnered with Arturo Sandoval to write the song’s music.  Sandoval arranged the song.

The DVD presentation of At Middleton will be available Tuesday April 1st for SRP of $22.98 and on Blu-ray for SRP of $26.98.  More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay is available online at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com and http://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay.  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.

ESPN Films Starts Winding Down Its Latest Series With “This Is What They Want”

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN Films’ Peabody Award-winning series 30 for 30 continues next Tuesday, October 29th with another brand new film.  Next Tuesday, ESPN and ESPN films take audiences into the tennis world in This is What They Want.  The film focuses on tennis star Jimmy Connors and his unbelievable run in the 1991 US Open.

Connors was thirty-eight years old when he entered the 1991 US Open, and was nearing his thirty-ninth birthday.  At the time, he was ranked 174th in the world.  And it had been eight years since he had earned his last Grand Slam singles title.  For those not familiar with the tennis world, this is not a good sign for someone coming into one of tennis’ biggest events.  Connors was close to being eliminated in the tournament’s first round.  But then something incredible happened.  Connors went on a tear that included a contest with Aaron Krickstein on his way to the semi-finals.  Connors’run through the tournament is richly detailed and examined thanks to director Brian Koppelman and David Levien.  The pair have been producing and directing movies since 1997.  Their list of credits includes: Rounders, Oceans Thirteen, The Illusionist, and the new hit movie Runner, Runner.  The pair included in this film, interviews with veteran tennis players John and Patrick McEnroe, Mary Carilo and Jim Courier along with Kirckstein.  Through their interviews and classic footage, This is What They Want examines not just Connors’ run but also what made him such a talked about figure in the tennis and sports worlds.  It shows how he helped make tennis the equally talked about sport that it is today.

All films in the 30 for 30 series will be available for download the day after their broadcast via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.  The remaining films in the series are listed below.  A special six-disc collector’s edition Gift Set containing the first fifteen films from 30 for 30 Volume II will be available in stores and online Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

The remaining films of the fall slate will air as follows:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m. –This      is What They Want (Directors: Brian      Koppelman and David Levien)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m. –Bernie      and Ernie (Director: Jason Hehir)

 

More information on all things 30 for 30 is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30, http://twitter.com/30for30, and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  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.

Tiny Toons’ Final Set A Lackluster End To A Classic Cartoon Series

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Home Video

Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 4: Looney Links! Is allegedly the final installment of director Steven Spielberg’s hit Fox Kids cartoon franchise.  If this is indeed the final installment of the series, then it certainly is not the best way to end things.  While most of this set is presented in its entirety, there is one glaring problem with the set.  That issue comes in the episode, “Weekday Afternoon Live.” The episode in question actually splices the final minutes of the “Toon TV” in place of the final segment that aired in “Weekday Afternoon Live” in its original broadcast.  This is not like Warner Home Video to let such an error occur in its home releases.  This critic’s copy of Volume Four is not the only one that has done this either.  According to others who have purchased the set, they too have had the same thing happen to them.  That one major blunder aside, the remainder of the set will still bring enjoyment to long-time fans of this modern classic cartoon.

This new (and allegedly final) installment of Tiny Toon Adventures offers more than its share of laughs, poking fun at pop culture once again and even some former presidents.  This time around, Buster, Babs, and company take another stab at Batman (and director Tim Burton).  They also go after one of the biggest censorship groups of the time, the Parents Music Resource Council (PMRC).  Only instead of dealing with music, Buster and Babs have to face off certain parties that want to censor cartoons.  Long-time fans will recognize the episode “Toon TV.”  That’s because it’s quite similar to a previous episode from Season One titled, “Tiny Toons Music Television.”  It’s basically more music video spoofs.  This time, the Tiny Toons gang goes even further back in time, covering hits from The Coasters, The Contours, and Shirley Ellis and Lincoln Chase.  They even cover Tchaikovsky’s famed ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies’ in this episode.  Of course, this is just a sample of what audiences can expect from this final collection of episodes.  Buster and Babs pay tribute once more to the golden days of animation by trying to save a group of “two-Tone” toons from an evil executive.  There is much more to enjoy from this final portion of the show’s final season.  But as noted already, the episodes contained in this final series of episodes aren’t entirely that original, thus making it less enjoyable than the series’ first two seasons.

For the seemingly decreased sense of originality in these final episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures and the problematic error created in ‘Weekday Afternoon Live’, there is at least one equally noticeable positive to this set.  That positive is an episode the directly addresses the problem of bullying.  To be more specific, it presents the situation in which Shirley The Loon is bullied by her classmates at her ballet class.  Upon telling Babs about the harassment from her swan classmates, Babs vows to get even with them, which she indeed does.  Of course getting even isn’t what people who have been bullied should do.  This is by no means the message.  But it does in its own way, go after bullies.  At the same time, it re-tells the story of The Ugly Duckling.  So in essence, it’s actually a doubly enjoyable episode for this.

The one major sequencing problem evident with Tiny Toon Adventures Volume 4: Looney Links! is something that will continue to plague this set unless the people at Warner Home Video make the effort to alleviate this issue.  Luckily, it does have its positives as noted already.  Looking at this set from the perspective of its packaging, the people charged with assembling this set at least got that right.  As with so many multi-disc sets being released now, WHV has released this final installment in a standard single disc case with an insert.  The insert included allows for the set’s first disc to be placed in its own spot, thus protecting the disc from scratching and, in turn, preserving the disc (along with the second disc) to be preserved much longer.  So it is for that reason, and for the laughs offered throughout this collection, that it is worthy of at least some praise.  But the massive error of having the wrong episode spliced into the end of another and the rehashed previous episodes will make any long-time fan of Tiny Toon Adventures take notice that this set is not perfect.  It is far from it by chance because of these issues.  Despite that, it is still a good addition to the collection of any Tiny Toons Adventures fan.  With any luck, Warner Brothers and Warner Home Video will take notice of all the complaints from fans, and re-issue this set as it should be presented.

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 keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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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