Voiceplay Releases New ‘Moana’ Medley Video

Fans of Disney’s hit movie Moana have new reason to celebrate.

A cappella outfit Voiceplay has just released a video of the group performing a medley of songs from the movie’s soundtrack via Yahoo! Music.  The group was joined by Broadway star Rachel Potter (The Addams Family, Evita) for the performance.

Courtesy: Reybee, Inc.

Voiceplay member Eli Jacobson discussed the new medley and its partnership with Potter for the video in a recent interview with Yahoo! Music’s Lyndsey Parker.  He said during the interview that developing its take on the songs and bringing Potter on for the project was natural.

“The music is just truly inspirational and we individually felt connections to the characters,” Jacobson said.  “We also all share the dream of providing music and voicing for an animated film and knew that Rachel would have a great take on Moana.  The fact that our kids and families love the music is just really just a huge plus.”

Potter said she was just as excited to work with Voiceplay as the group was to work with her.

“I was just so elated to get to do a Moana medley with these guys,” Potter said.  “It really captures the emotions throughout the entire film in just a few minutes and it’s something Jude (Potter’s son) and I can enjoy for years to come.”

Potter’s collaboration with Voiceplay on its new medley is not the first time that she has worked with the group.  She also worked with the quintet on The Phantom of the Opera and Charlie Puth’s Attention.   Voiceplay itself has already crafted a medley of popular Disney showtunes including numbers from The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Aladdin as part of Disney’s celebration of its 20th anniversary on Broadway.

More information on Voiceplay’s new Moana medley is available online now along with all of the group’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.thevoiceplay.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thevoiceplay

 

 

 

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.

The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition Another Welcome Re-Issue From Disney

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Disney’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid is one of the most popular of all of its fairy tales.  The story, which centers on the romance between a human and young mermaid, originally debuted in theaters almost twenty-four years ago.  November 17th will mark the twenty-fourth anniversary of the film’s debut.  And until this year, the last time that Disney had re-issued to the movie for home release was seven years ago in 2006.  Considering all of this, it comes as a little bit of a surprise that Disney decided to go ahead and re-issue the classic story well over a year ahead of what will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of its big screen debut.  That aside, it’s still a welcome addition for any fan of Disney’s princess franchise.  The most important aspect of this movie’s success (as with any movie) is its script.  Considering that well over thirty years had passed between the original debut of this movie and Disney’s last fairy tale feature before it, Sleeping Beauty, this movie actually has so much more depth than most viewers might see.  It is more than just a romantic drama.  It actually boasts plenty of comedy, too.  It also has both a coming of age story of sorts within its bounds as well as an allegory about acceptance and tolerance.  The movie’s new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack re-issue makes it even more interesting a watch.  That’s because of a pair of bonus features included in the package.  All of this together makes Disney’s adaptation of The Little Mermaid another of Disney’s most memorable movies in its modern era.

When Disney’s adaptation of The Little Mermaid premiered on November 17th, 1989, well over thirty years had passed between that premiere and the premiere of Disney’s last fairy tale feature, Sleeping Beauty.  Disney established its reputation on the back of not only that movie, but also the likes of Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Those features made Disney a leader in the movie business.  So much time having passed, it would have been easy for the people at Disney to slip up with The Little Mermaid.  But as the final product revealed, the studio did anything but slip up.  The script behind the movie is on the surface, a standard fairy tale story.  On a much deeper level though, it also includes a strong coming of age storyline.  Princess Ariel is a teenager.  She is sixteen years-old to be exact.  So it could be argued that her youth and naivety is what feeds the romantic drama that is to follow.  It also is what leads to her personal growth and love and respect for her father.  To that extent, it actually makes The Little Mermaid more than just another one of Disney’s princess movies.  It gives the story a certain amount of depth.

Ariel’s coming of age story is only part of what gives The Little Mermaid depth.  It could also be argued that the feature’s script hides in plain sight, an allegory about acceptance and understanding.  The allegory works in more than one way, too.  The allegory about acceptance and understanding comes in the form of King Triton having to learn to accept that his preconceived notions about humans are not entirely right.  Prince Eric proves that.  He eventually has to come to accept that despite being from another world of sorts, humans are not as bad as he had always led himself and his people to believe.  If viewers can allow themselves to take into consideration both of these story elements, they will see that The Little Mermaid in fact has more going for it than being just another princess movie.  It becomes even more worth watching at least once if not adding to one’s home library.

The subtle story elements tied into The Little Mermaid’s primary romantic drama storyline add a whole new depth and appreciation for the classic adaptation.  Now that the movie has been re-issued on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, viewers have even more reason to appreciate it.  That’s thanks to the inclusion of a pair of bonus features included in the new Blu-ray disc.  One of those features centers on producer/songwriter Howard Ashman.  “Howard’s Lecture” focuses on Ashman and how his experience with and love for musical theater helped make The Little Mermaid a *ahem* splash with audiences (bad pun fully intended).  The vintage footage of Ashman discussing the film’s different aspect add to the movie’s value because of the figure it portrayed.  Audiences see in Ashman someone who is the total antithesis of the stereotypical Hollywood type.  He comes across as having been down to earth and entirely humble.  Those that knew Ashman best also share their insights into the type of person he was.  And it corresponds perfectly with the figure presented in the lecture.  The fact that one of his friends would tear up in speaking about him shows just how valued he was not just to the movie but as a person.  That emotion and the feature as a whole make “Howard’s Speech” an invaluable addition to this new re-issue.  It makes the presentation in whole that much more impressive.

“Howard’s Lecture” is an invaluable addition to the bonus features included in this latest re-issue of The Little Mermaid.  There is one other feature included in this re-issue that audiences will agree makes the movie even more worth watching.  The feature in question explains in depth how those behind the movie maintained Disney’s long standing tradition of basing its animated features on live action actors.  It explains how just as with Alice In Wonderland, Snow White, and others those behind this movie based their storyboards on live action “models.”  This was done to get the most realism possible out of the animation.  This is something used to this day by Disney’s partner studio, Pixar.  Add in the fact that the movie was crafted entirely via hand drawn animation instead of computers makes this an even more important addition for viewers to check out.  And together with “Howard’s Lecture” and the subtle extra story elements tied into the story, it all comes together to make this twenty-fourth anniversary re-issue of The Little Mermaid that much more worth adding to any family’s home library or that of any true film buff.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Disney’s online store at http://movies.disney.com/the-little-mermaid and http://www.disneystore.com/disney-princess/little-mermaid/mn/1000031/?searchRedirect=1&searchTerm=the+little+mermaid&catalogFromSearch=10002.  More information on this and other Disney releases is available via both websites, too.  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.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Is One Of Disney’s Modern Classics

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios has largely made its fame on taking classic literary stories and adapting them for the big screen.  For the most part, doing so has led to great success for Disney.  So it goes without saying that when Disney’s heads decided to bring Victor Hugo’s literary classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame to audiences in animated form doing so was a pretty big risk.  That is because this is hardly the happiest of stories.  Somehow though, Disney managed to pull off the job and craft what should be considered to be one of the company’s modern classics.  Whereas its renditions of The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, Cinderella and others are considered the company’s original classics, its take on Hugo’s literary masterpiece fits nicely into the category of modern classics.  This is the case for a variety of reasons. In watching this rendition, one can’t help but be taken back to Disney’s golden era.  From the subtlety of the mix of hand drawn and digital animation, to the big song cues to the animation, one actually feels as if one is actually watching a stage presentation made into an animated film.  And while it may be a little bit scary for younger audiences with its darker elements, it still stands as one of the better works in Disney’s modern era.

Viewers that closely watch the newly re-issued Hunchback of Notre Dame I/II combo pack will catch a subtlety that others might not that harkens back to Disney’s golden era.  That subtlety is a mix of animation styles.  There are a handful of scenes throughout this movie that show on one side, the rougher, less “streamlined” animation style sitting side by side.  This is explained briefly in the original “Making of featurette” that was included in the movie’s previous release.  Actor Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) explains the reality behind the misconception that all animation done for Disney movies—at the time—was done by computer.  The difference between the hand drawn animation and digital animation is pretty clear.  And the very fact that animators tried to duplicate the animation of Disney’s famed “Nine Old Men” even in the slightest in this feature makes it worthy of at least a little bit of respect.

If the attempt by animators to replicate the animation of Disney’s most famed animators isn’t enough for viewers, then perhaps the story’s musical numbers will help win over audiences.  Composer Alan Menken returned for this movie after having massive success nearly a decade prior on another of Disney’s biggest modern classics in The Little Mermaid.  The animation works in tandem with the big musical numbers to really leave viewers feeling like they are watching a stage presentation in animated form.  That’s even more the case now that the movie has been re-issued on Blu-ray.  There is just a certain quality on which one can’t put one’s finger that pulls audiences in and makes the story believable.  That’s the sign of a quality work.

If the song cues and the animation aren’t enough, then the movie’s more comical moments will entertain audiences.  Even in some of the movie’s darker moments, the story’s writers come up with some pretty funny moments to help lighten the mood.  A prime example of this comes late in the movie, in the final showdown sequence.  As Quasimodo and Frollo face off in the cathedral’s tower, soldiers are below, trying to break in.  Laverne (voiced by the late Mary Wickers) helps in the fight by calling on a large group of birds.  This moment is a tribute not just to the classic Warner Brothers movie, The Wizard of Oz, but also to Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic, The Birds.  While the latter tribute may have been unintentional, it is there.  It’s just one of so many moments that will have viewers laughing.  Add in Jason Alexander’s comedic timing and viewers get more than enough laughs to offset the movie’s darker moments.  Those darker moments being offset and the movie’s enjoyable musical numbers and hybrid animation together make The Hunchback of Notre Dame one of the better movies from Disney’s modern era.  One might even go so far as to call it one of Disney’s modern classics.  It is available now on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Disney store at http://www.disneystore.com/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack/mp/1331583/1000316/ and at the Disney DVD store at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame-two-movie-collection.html

To keep up with the latest 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.

Disney/Pixar’s Brave is anything but

Courtesy: Disney/Pixar

Once you reach the top, there’s nowhere to go but down.  Who hasn’t heard or spoken that old adage or some variant thereof?  It’s an adage that applies to so many avenues of life.  That also includes movies.  And it especially applies in the case of Disney/Pixar’s newest movie, “Brave.”

“Brave” is little more than another update of Disney’s classic 1976 movie, “Freaky Friday.”  That original starred Barbara Harris and a young Jodie Foster.  It was most recently updated with a reboot in 2003 starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in the shoes of the previous pair.  Now with “Brave”, the mother/daughter team has been filled by Emma Thompson and Kelly Macdonald.  The only thing that separates the previous pair of movies from “Brave” is that in the case of Merida and her mother, Elinor, they don’t switch brains.  Rather, in this update, Merida comes of age when she asks a witch to conjure up a spell that would “change” her mom.  After the spell turns her mom into a bear, she finally begins to realize things in a different light.

Merida’s not the only one who learns some valuable lessons, either.  Her mom learns some lessons, too.  Elinor realized that it was wrong of her to press her views on Merida.  She learns that needs to honor Merida’s decision on when or if she’s ready to marry.  Even the princes brought for the betrothal competition agreed with Merida and voice that opinion, too.  They state that they were all pushed into things by their fathers.

The story behind “Brave” is anything but brave.  It’s not the only problem with the overall presentation, either.  Being that it bears a “PG” rating, parents should be aware that the reasoning behind that rating is justified.  There is some partial nudity in the movie.  To be more exact, audiences get glimpses of some bare backsides at a couple points.  Those moments were really unnecessary.

“Brave” is not Disney/Pixar’s best work.  That honor goes to the companies’ 2009 movie, “Up.”  But while it’s not the best from the pair, it’s not the worst, either.  Merida is a wonderfully positive role model for today’s younger female audiences.  She’s a very confident, strong willed and independent figure.  That’s a big change from most of Disney’s classic princesses.  As much as Merida’s a great role model for today’s yougner female audiences, there’s no denying her link to at least two classic Disney princesses.  She has Ariel’s hair and Jasmine’s strong willed personality.  Keeping that in mind, and that it lifts liberally from Disney’s 1976 original “Freaky Friday” proves that as good as “Brave” may be, there is still no beating the classics.  Parents would be much better served sharing the original Freaky Friday with their children before blowing their money on this not so new movie from Disney and Pixar.