Steep Canyon Rangers Announces New Live Dates; Debuts New Single

Courtesy: Yeproc Records

Steep Canyon Rangers got back in the news this week.

The band announced an extensive new slate of live dates for this coming fall and winter. The dates, noted below, feature performances alongside Steve Martin and Martin Short, and a handful of festival shows. Tickets are available here.

Steep Canyon Rangers’ tour is in support of its most recent album, Arm in Arm (2020). The album is available to stream and download here.

Steep Canyon Rangers: On Tour

August 21 – Grand Sierra Resort & Casino – Reno, NV^

August 26 – The Palace Theatre – Stamford, CT^

September 3 – Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival 2021 – Brunswick, ME

September 4 – Hickory Fest 2021 – Mansfield, PA

September 5 – Shenandoah Valley Music Festival 2021 – Woodstock, VA

September 10-11 – Mountain Song Festival 2021 – Brevard, NC

September 16 – Mishawaka Amphitheatre – Bellvue, CO

September 17 – Chautauqua Auditorium – Boulder, CO*

September 18-19 – Pickin In The Pines – Flagstaff, AZ

September 24-25 – FreshGrass 2021 – North Adams, MA

October 1 – FreshGrass 2021 – Bentonville, AR

October 2 – IBMA Bluegrass Live – Raleigh, NC

October 3 – Tuck Fest 2021 – Charlotte, NC

October 15-16 – Suwannee Roots Festival 2021 – Live Oak, FL

October 20 – Temple Theater Box Office – Lufkin, TX

October 21 – Old Settler’s Music Festival – Dale, TX

October 22 – Altria Theater – Richmond, VA^

October 23 – Township Auditorium – Columbia, SC^

October 24 – Grand Ole Opry House – Nashville, TN^

November 6 – Sellersville Theater 1894 – Sellersville, PA

November 7 – Birchmere – Alexandria, VA

November 12 – Lyric Theatre – Stuart, FL

November 13 – Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, FL

November 14 – Ponte Vedra Concert Hall – Ponte Vedra, FL

November 19 – Lied Center of Kansas – Lawrence, KS

December 2-5 – Egyptian Theatre – Park City, UT

^with Steve Martin & Martin Short

*with Jon Stickley Trio

In other news, the band premiered its new single, ‘Nothing Matters (When You’re Mine)‘ Tuesday. The song features a musical arrangement that instantly lends itself to comparison to works from Reckless Kelly with its somber tones and vocal harmonies.

According to information provided about the single, its lyrical theme focuses on the all too familiar topic of a broken relationship.

More information on Steep Canyon Rangers’ new live dates, single, and album is available along with the band’s latest news at:




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Steep Canyon Rangers Receive Another Grammy Nomination

Courtesy: Yep Roc Records

Steep Canyon Rangers received a special honor this week.

The band announced Tuesday, it is one of five nominees in the “Best Bluegrass Album” category for the 2021 Grammy Awards ceremony. The nomination is for the band’s live recording North Carolina Songbook. The eight-song recording was captured April 28, 2019 at the annual Merlfest in Wilkesboro, NC and released Dec. 5, 2019 through Yep Roc Records.

The performance featured in the recording featured performances of ‘Stand By Me’/’Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down’ and ‘Blue Monk’ among others. The record debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Billboard Chart.

Vocalist Woody Platt was humble as he talked about the nomination in a prepared statement.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by the Recording Academy with a Grammy nomination,” said Platt. “It is especially sweet because this record pays tribute to many of the great artists from our musically rich home state of North Carolina.”

Platt’s band mate Graham Sharp expanded on Platt’s statements.

“This album was conceived as a love letter to our home state and the overwhelmingly diverse amount of groundbreaking musicians it has produced,” said Sharp. “It was a joy to perform and we’re truly grateful to be nominated among such a cool slate of our peers.”

Steep Canyon Rangers’ nomination in the 63rd annual Grammy Awards ceremony is just the latest of the band’s honors. The band is a member of the North Carolina music Hall of Fame. The band has also recorded three albums with famed comedian/actor/musician Steve Martin.

The group’s album Nobody Knows You won the Grammy in 2013 in the “Best Bluegrass Album” category. Only a year prior, the band was nominated for its album Rare Bird Alert.

Steep Canyon Rangers released its latest album Arm in Arm this year through Yep Roc Reords.

More information on Steep Canyon Rangers’ Grammy nomination, and new album is available along with the band’s latest news at:




The full list of the nominees for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards ceremony is available along with all of the latest Grammy news at:




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Shout! Factory’s ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ Re-Issue Is Anything But Rotten

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/MGM

Later this spring, MGM Studios is going to release a not-so-new movie to theaters titled The Hustle.  The movie, which stars the trio of Rebel Wilson, Anne Hathaway and Alex Sharp, is nothing more than a re-imagining of the same studio’s timeless 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which saw the great Michael Caine and Steve Martin joined by Glenne Headly in the lead roles.  The Hustle just puts women in the lead in place of the two male leads in the previous movie, and modernizes the story.  Ironically, Hollywood’s latest re-imagining will come only months after Shout! Factory re-issued Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on Blu-ray.  The movie was re-issued this week as part of Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series.  In an age when the problem of scammers and con artists seems to be at an all-time high around the world, this movie, which pokes fun at those hated criminal types is a welcome presentation.  That is proven in part collectively through the movie’s story, and the work of its cast.  The movie’s bonus content adds to its appeal in its new re-issue.  This will be discussed a little later.  The movie’s average price point plays into its appeal just as much as its overall content, and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ new re-issue.  All things considered, they make the movie’s re-issue one that fans of the movie will agree is anything but rotten.

Shout! Factory’s new re-issue of MGM’s timeless 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is another welcome entry to the company’s Shout! Select movie series, which already boasts dozens of titles.  That statement is supported in part through the movie’s central story, which is for all intents and purposes, a buddy comedy that centers on the buddies – played by Steve Martin (Roxanne, The Jerk, L.A. Story) and Michael Caine (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) – spending most of the movie as competitors, trying to extract $50,000 from a woman they think is an unsuspecting victim.  While it is not ultimately until the end that the competitors become cohorts of sorts – not to give away too much story info – it can be easily argued that the pair in fact are “buddies” of sorts throughout.  Director Frank Oz even makes an allusion to this element in the movie’s bonus feature-length commentary, which will be discussed later.  The constant back and forth between Freddy (Martin) and Lawrence (Caine) in their competition creates plenty of comedy, and a type of comedy at that, which is rarely seen even in today’s buddy comedies.  The twist in the story’s finale adds to the story’s comedy even more, giving audiences one last laugh.  The one problem with the story’s final act is that it drags on maybe longer than it really needed to, and writer Dale Launer (who was just one member of the movie’s three-member writing) discusses the movie’s finale in the movie’s new bonus interview.  His discussion, which will be discussed at more length later, explains why the finale was so long.  Even with that pacing issue (and some other minor pacing issues throughout) in mind, the story still manages to keep audiences engaged and entertained throughout.

In direct connection to the story, the work of Martin, Caine and fellow co-star Glenne Headly does plenty to keep audiences entertained and engaged in the story.  The constant back and forth between Caine and Martin creates a sense that the men must have gotten along well off-camera as well as in front of the lens.  The friendly competition between the men is that believable.  That is especially the case considering the certain reserved nature of each character as he responds to the other.  It leaves audiences wondering in the best way possible how each man will react to the other.  The simplest comparison that can perhaps be made is to the back and forth between Foghorn Leghorn and his canine companion in those famous Looney Tunes shorts.  Headley’s work as Janet is just as impressive, as she is fully believable as the standard love interest.  It leaves that ultimate revelation in the final act that much more enjoyable, again not to give away too much.  This is another item that Oz discusses in his commentary and will also be addressed later.  Between Headley’s performance and that of Martin and Caine, the trio puts on a performance in this movie that is something rarely seen in any buddy comedy before or after.  When it is coupled with the movie’s story, the result is a presentation whose primary content is more than enough reason for audiences to take in this movie.  It is just part of the proof of the movie’s success.  The bonus content featured in the movie’s new re-issue makes the re-issue in whole even more of a success.

The bonus content presented in Shout! Factory’s new re-issue of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels adds even more enjoyment to the movie because of the background information and extra tidbits that are offered through said content.  As previously noted, Dale Launer, one member of the movie’s three-person writing team — that also included Stanley Shapiro (who also wrote Bedtime Story, the inspiration for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and apparently The Hustle) and Paul Henning – is featured in an interview that is new to this re-issue.  He talks about a variety of topics related to the movie, not the least of which being the movie’s previously noted finale.  He mentions that a variety of ideas were developed for the story’s final act, including one that he notes raised concerns about potential racist portrayals by the cast.  Thankfully, that idea ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor.  He also discusses how issues of copyrights played into the movie’s birth, as well as its tie to the 1964 movie Bedtime Story.  Launer openly admits that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a re-imagining of Bedtime Story, adding that the latter movie was birthed because there was a belief that there was room for improvement on the prior.  Interestingly enough, he makes no mention of the forthcoming movie The Hustle, showing that he likely conducted the interview before The Hustle (which is just a female fronted re-imagining of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) had been proposed.  Other interesting topics that he raises involve revelations of certain well-known figures who were considered for the movie before Caine and Martin.  Hint, two of those stars are famed rock stars.  Another is a very highly revered actor, who has starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest movies.  He also reveals that while Frank Oz helmed the movie, he was in fact not the first choice for its director.  Another figure was chosen first, and circumstances led to him helming the movie.  How he came to helm the movie will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.

Speaking of Frank Oz, the movie’s new re-issue features a full audio-commentary from Oz as another of the movie’s bonuses.  Oz discusses just as many items throughout the commentary as Launer in his interview.  One of the most interesting notes that Oz shares in his commentary is the revelation that Steve Martin did a bit of ad libbing throughout the movie, including in the jail cell scene.  He additionally notes that the scene in which Martin, playing Lawrence’s “brother” Ruprecht, ass to go to the bathroom was not originally part of the script.  He notes that this moment was part of Martin’s early comedy bits, and that it was added to the script after Martin suggested its inclusion in said scene.  In a similar note, Oz, who notes his joy at watching the movie again, also talks about the joy of creating the scene in which “Ruprecht” was first introduced.  He laughs as he recalls the riotously comedic scene and how it came to be.  On a side note, Launer also addresses the scene in his interview, adding even more insight into that moment.  As if these discussions are not enough, Oz also highlights the now famous scene in which Lawrence “whips” Freddy, stating prosthetic shins were used for Martin, so that he would not get hurt.  He adds Martin’s tears in that sequence’s finale were actually fake, and that the rest of the crew was actually laughing so hard behind the scenes, that they were crying.  He goes on to note in the final act, to note the ability of all involved to keep many audiences from realizing the reality about Janet, and how proud he and the rest of the cast and crew were for that.  It is another testament to the time and effort put into the movie’s story and even the acting.  Between these discussions and plenty of others presented by Oz throughout his commentary, audiences get plenty of insight and entertainment.  The same can be said of the commentary from Launer.  Between the two commentaries, the two bonuses more than prove themselves just as important to the movie’s presentation in its new re-issue as the movie’s primary content, proving even more, why this re-issue is another welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series.  Keeping in mind the overall content and its proven value, it becomes clear that they collectively do plenty to the positive for this movie in its new re-issue.  They are just some of the movie’s positives.  The movie’s average price point in its new re-issue is another positive to note.

The average price point of Shout! Factory’s new Dirty Rotten Scoundrels re-issue – using prices from Shout! Factory’s store, Amazon, Walmart and Barnes & Noble Booksellers – the re-issue’s average price point comes to $27.48.  It was not listed at Target, Books-A-Million, Target or Best Buy.  Considering that the various outlets list the movie at roughly $26 to $27 (the prices are separated by a matter of just cents), that average price point is right about on par with the listed prices.  Add in the noted primary and secondary content presented throughout the Blu-ray and the equally unnoted content that is also there, the movie’s price is a little high, yes, but it is money well-spent.  Audiences are paying for roughly two-and-a-half hours of entertainment, if not more than that, between the movie’s primary content and its bonus material.  Audiences should take into account that the movie’s previous re-issues lack the new interview with Launer, and some do not even have the feature-length commentary with Frank Oz.  Keeping that in mind, while they might be less expensive than this release, but they also lack that noted entertaining and enlightening bonus content.  To that end, the price is – again – a little high, but it is money well-spent considering all of the content, and its comparison to the prices from stores where listed puts it right on par with those prices.  Keeping all of this in mind, Shout! Factory’s new re-issue of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels proves to be another successful entry to the company’s Shout! Select series.

Shout! Factory’s new re-issue of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a successful new addition to the company’s ever-growing Shout! Select series.  That is proven in part through the movie’s story, and by relation, the work of its lead cast.  The bonus content included with the movie’s presentation gives audiences even more to appreciate, as it adds plenty of entertainment value and insight into the movie.  The movie’s average price point, while not inexpensive, is still money well-spent considering everything noted here.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ new re-issue.  All things considered, they make this movie anything but rotten in its re-issue.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:










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Shout! Factory’ Adds ‘The Jerk’ To Its Shout! Select Series

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory is re-issuing Steve Martin’s classic comedy, The Jerk.

The movie is scheduled to be released on Blu-ray Tuesday as part of the company’s ongoing Shout! Select series.  Originally released Dec. 14, 1979 via Universal Pictures, the movie is considered by many to be Martin’s breakout movie.

The story stars Martin as Navin Johnson, the adopted son of a poor, black sharecropping family in Mississippi.  Johnson heads out into the world on his own to find his “special purpose,” which leads to meetings with a would-be assassin, work with the circus and gas stations, an encounter with a service dog, a romance and a financial windfall.  Navi’s new-found fame and fortune leads to plenty of its own problems for the hapless man.

Shout! Factory’s new re-issue of the classic comedy features a handful of bonuses, including, but not limited to two new interviews with Martin and Reiner, and with the writing team of Michael Elias and Carl Gottlieb.  The full list of the movie’s bonus material is noted below.

Bonus Features:
·        NEW Remastered from a Brand-New 2K Transfer
·        NEW A Conversation with Steve Martin and Carl Reiner
·        NEW A Conversation with Writers Michael Elias and Carl Gottlieb
·        Learn How to Play “Tonight You Belong To Me”
·        The Lost Film Strips of Father Carols Las Vegas De Cordova
·        Trailers & Radio Spots

More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:






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Shout! Factory Announces ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ Re-Issue Date

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/MGM

Steve Martin and Michael Caine’s classic comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is joining Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is scheduled for release on Blu-ray on Jan. 22.  Pre-orders are open now.

MGM’s 1989 riotous comedy finds Freddy Benson (Steve Martin — The JerkPlanes Trains & AutomobilesLittle Shop of Horrors) — and Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine — Secondhand Lions, Batman Begins, The Dark KnightThe Dark Knight Rises) — as a pair of con men who make a bet with one another:  The first to swindle a wealthy heiress out of $50,000 wins the bet while the other leaves town.  The deal comes from a sort of comedy of errors, which is set off by Lawrence believing Freddy is a nefarious con man called “The Jackal.”  When it is revealed that he is not “The Jackal,” the bet is set, and leads to plenty of comedy and laughs.

Shout! Factory’s upcoming re-issue of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels features the movie presented in a new 2K scan, a new bonus interview with script writer Dale Launer and feature-length audio commentary with director Frank Oz.

More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:






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Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me Is A Moving Tribute To One Of Music’s Greats

Courtesy: Virgil Films

Courtesy: Virgil Films

Four years ago country music legend Glen Campbell made one of the most difficult announcements of his career if not the single most difficult. The announcement in question was that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Those that know someone with Alzheimer’s or that have known someone with Alzheimer’s know the emotional pain that comes with such an announcement. Knowing that there is no cure for the disease, Campbell decided that he would not go quietly into that good night. Rather, he wanted to go out with a bang before the disease took control of his mind. He went on from there to release one final album and embark on a farewell tour to thank his fans for their years of support. Now thanks to Virgil Films Campbell’s fans can relive that final tour and everything that came with it in the form of the tour documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. The main reason that this is such a standout documentary is that it isn’t presented like every other tour documentary out there. Rather it is presented more as a tribute to the life and legacy of one of the music industry’s titans. That is just one reason that audiences will find it so compelling. The interviews with Campbell’s counterparts throughout the entertainment industry make the documentary even more intriguing. It isn’t just because his counterparts come from so many different realms of the industry either. The surprising reveal of each celebrity interviewee’s link to Campbell makes the program in whole even more powerful. The final reason that viewers and fans alike will find this presentation so touching and powerful is its editing. The editing is spotless from beginning to end, making for an emotional impact that will move even the strongest person emotionally speaking. It is thanks to the work of those that edited the documentary and prepared it for its release that the interviews and collective footage presented here is so powerful. It brings everything full circle and proves famed Chicago Sun Times writer/critic Richard Roeper completely right in his sentiment that Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is “one of the most remarkable documentaries in recent years” and that “You do not want to miss this movie.”

Every year, there is any number of new music documentaries distributed to stores and online outlets for viewers to choose from. The problem is that most of those documentaries are little more than space fillers used as to hold fans and fulfill contractual obligations with record labels. Luckily though, for all of those poorly put together pieces, there are the occasional diamonds in the rough that manage to somehow shine through. Virgil Films’ new documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is one of those diamonds in the rough. This presentation is not just another run of the mill tour documentary. It is a tour documentary. But it is more than that. It is a tribute to the life and legacy of one of the music industry’s titans. That is the central reason for its success. While it does follow Campbell on his final nationwide tour, it offers audiences more than just a presentation following Campbell on said tour. It also follows Campbell off of the road. Viewers get to follow Campbell and his wife as they check in with the doctor to find out how much the disease has progressed. They also get to follow Campbell as he tries to face the reality of his diagnosis within his daily life. What audiences get here is the picture of a brave man; a man who refuses to just give up and give in. Rather, as viewers will see, he chooses to face it head on with a smile and all of the laughs and love that he can give. This includes some of the most difficult times as the disease progresses. The end result of the presentation will have viewers (including even the strongest viewers) both laughing and crying throughout. By the program’s end, viewers will agree that Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is not just another tour documentary. It is a powerful, moving tribute to a legend that will potentially inspire others with family and friends suffering from that terrible disease.

The overall presentation of Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me makes the documentary stand out head and shoulders above every other music documentary that has been released so far this year. That is because it isn’t just a run of the mill tour documentary churned out to satisfy some label’s contractual obligations. It is a tribute to the life and legacy of a great talent. It’s just one reason that this presentation is such a memorable and moving work. The interviews with Campbell’s family, friends, and counterparts across the entertainment industry make the documentary even more powerful. The interviews in question are with Campbell’s family, friends, and counterparts throughout the entertainment industry. Those counterparts include well-known figures from the country music world such as Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, and Keith Urban as well as some of the rock world’s biggest names including: Bruce Springsteen, Chad Smith, and The Edge among others. Even former President Bill Clinton gets some face time along with famed actor/comedian Steve Martin and other well-known figures from the realms of television and movies. The list of people interviewed throughout the program is within itself plenty of reason to watch the documentary. But it is what the interviewees have to say of Campbell that makes each individual’s discussion so important to the whole of the documentary. Every one of the feature’s interviewees speaks with such reverence for him. They also speak with an increasingly noticeable emotion. The reason for that emotion is revealed in the program’s final minutes. Not to ruin it for anyone but it is revealed that the individuals interviewed for the documentary each had a connection to somebody that was either suffering from Alzheimer’s or that had suffered. So it makes sense that they would each get somewhat choked up in discussing the topic as it related to Campbell. It just brought up memories of their own friends and families. It is that heartfelt emotion displayed by each of the interviewees that really makes each separate segment so powerful. In turn, each of the segments combined makes the presentation in whole that much more moving for viewers.

The interviews collected for Virgil Films’ new Glen Campbell documentary are extremely moving to say the very least. They are so moving not because they feature some of the biggest names from the entertainment world and that of politics, but because of the heartfelt sentiment shared by each individual in discussion what Glen Campbell means to them and how his condition relates to them personally. They, along with everything else presented in this documentary, paint a picture that every person should see regardless of their familiarity with Glen Campbell the man and the musician. Of course without the work of those charged with editing and assembling the presentation ahead of its release, none of that would matter. It is the work of those individuals that rounds out the reasons that audiences will so appreciate this work. Their efforts present Campbell as a strong yet still fragile individual. The footage of Campbell in his childhood set against that of him as an adult, raising his family adds even more of an emotional impact to the overall presentation. Seeing Campbell slowly begin to struggle through his tour yet still fight through it and put on the best show that he can ups that emotional impact even more. Add in the expert balance of each element from beginning to end and viewers will find themselves not wanting to turn off the movie. Like a really good book or any other really good movie, the work of the editors makes this presentation’s near two-hour run time pass by with ease. Viewers won’t realize at all just how much time has passed by the time the movie has ended. They will also find themselves moved possibly deeper than they ever had by any fictional feature released in recent memory. In coming to such realization, audiences will agree that those charged with editing this documentary have succeeded to the highest degree in their jobs and have in turn helped craft what is one of the best music documentaries to be released in many years; a documentary that every viewer should see regardless of their familiarity with Campbell’s body of work.

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is one of the best music/tour documentaries to be released in recent memory. The work of the movie’s editors coupled with its interviews and the overall approach to the presentation make it a presentation that every viewer should see regardless of their familiarity with Campbell’s body of work. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Virgil Films’ online store at More information on this and other titles from Virgil Films is available online now at:



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Disney Earns Its Own Wings With Cars Spinoff

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment






Disney’s Planes is not as terrible as many critics (this critic admittedly included) had previously considered it to be.  However, it is also not one of the year’s best.  One has to take into account the comments made by co-writers Klay Hall and John Lasseter in the movie’s bonus material to fully appreciate what Planes actually offers audiences.  Their comments play directly into the movie’s overall plot.  The resultant effect is that Planes’ story comes across more as its own story and less of a rip-off of Pixar’s Cars.  The end result is a movie with just enough heart to make it worth at least one watch.

Walt Disney Studios was lambasted by audiences and critics alike (this critic included) when the studio announced that it would be releasing a spinoff of Pixar’s hugely successful Cars franchise.  The very fact that Disney would simply title the new spinoff Planes was to thank for that reaming of the studio. The instant reaction was to say that this movie was just Cars in the air.  While it largely is that, the movie is also worthy of at least some defense.  In its defense, the bonus features included in the movie’s new home release help it to earn at least a slight respect.  Pixar head and Planes co-writer John Lasssetter discusses the movie in a sit-down interview.  He explains in his interview that there had been a proposal to spin off Cars with a movie about trains.  Yes, a movie about trains.  All they would have needed were Steve Martin and someone to take the place of the late John Candy.  Anyone that gets this reference should stand up and take a bow right now.  Getting back on the subject, Lasseter explains wisely that a movie centered on planes instead of trains made more sense.  He explains in his own wording that a movie on planes obviously gave more story options, which makes sense.  That sentiment alone makes the movie more bearable.

Lasseter’s Planes co-writer Klay Hall is also interviewed in the movie’s bonus features.  He explains in his bonus interview that the idea for a story centered on planes was largely thanks to his own late father being a Navy pilot.  The result was a lifelong love for all things aerial.  He explains in depth how his love for all things aerial led to the precise details used throughout the movie, too.  He explains that he wanted to make the movie as factual as possible.  And he did just that.  Anyone that has ever watched the likes of the Red Bull Air Race World Series will appreciate the shots down the long axis of the planes during the qualifying sessions for the big round-the-world air race.  They will also appreciate the technical jargon tossed about throughout the movie’s run time, which barely tops the ninety-minute mark.

The interviews with both Lasseter and Hall earn Planes a new respect that without which, it might not have earned.  Also worthy of note is the plot behind this continuation of Pixar’s Cars franchise.  The writing team of Lassetter, Hall, and Jeffery M. Howard have crafted in Planes, a standard underdog story complete with underlying romance subplot.  This is not the first time that such a story has been done, just as Pixar’s Monsters University was hardly the first college based comedy ever crafted.  In Planes’ defense though, it didn’t directly rip off either of the Cars movies.  It actually does have its own story.  To that extent, it develops even more its own identity.  Add in the fact that comedian Dane Cook has proven that he can actually handle more mature—anyone that has seen Cook’s standup act understand how immature and boring he comes across as being—material, and Planes actually proves that it has not only its own identity, but also has heart.  All of this being noted, Planes proves to be a movie that while hardly one of Disney’s best or even one of 2013’s best, is worth at least one watch with the family.

Planes is available now on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  It can be ordered online direct from the Disney online store at and  More information on this and other releases from Walt Disney Studios is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Identity Thief A Mere Shadow Of Hughes’ Classic Road Trip Comedy

Courtesy:  Universal Studios

Courtesy: Universal Studios

Universal Studios’ latest attempt at a buddy comedy comes up far short of the John Hughes classic which it tries to emulate. This road trip buddy comedy is a mere shadow of Hughes’ 1987 classic, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Where Hughes did everything right with his movie, writer and director Steve Conrad and Seth Gordon have combined to make a movie in Identity Thief that struggles at best to come across as an update of what is a much better story. Thank goodness for veteran actor Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Extract, etc.). If not for his acting chops, this movie might have completely sunk. He manages throughout the story to pick up the slack left by co-star Melissa McCarthy whose character is annoying in herself, while she as an actress falls flat in her attempt to be funny. It would be interesting to find out if other actresses had been considered for the role or even another actor before the higher ups decided on her. Even the inclusion of guest stars Robert Patrick (T2, The Unit) and rapper T.I. didn’t do a lot to help the movie.

Identity Thief has more than its share of problems. But for all of its negatives, it would be unfair to ignore the few funny and at least semi-heartfelt moments that are peppered throughout the story (as few as they are). The story does offer at least a tiny amount of heart in that McCarthy’s Diana does reach a point where she begins to realize how she is and begins to change ever so slowly. Audiences see hints of Diana’s change when she decides not to take Sandy’s (Bateman) car one night at a hotel. Eventually her own growth leads Sandy to his own point of self-discovery and realization. That realization leads to his own personal growth. The personal growth of both Sandy and Diana does help move the story. And thankfully there are some equally enjoyable moments of physical comedy that help move the story along. Sadly though, those moments aren’t enough to make up for the mass of slower moments that bog down this near two hour movie. Those slower moments leave a movie that clocks in at just under two hours feel more like a near two and a half hour movie. Needless to say that considering this, it’s the final nail in the coffin for this failed attempt at an update of a classic. It’s one more movie that proves there’s nothing better than the original.

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