Monsters, Inc. Proves Again Why It’s A Modern Classic With BD/DVD Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Disney-Pixar

Courtesy: Disney-Pixar

Disney/Pixar’s fourth cg-based family film, Monsters, Inc. is one of the biggest hits from the two companies.  The pair has taken one of the most common of childhood fears and turned it into a big, soft fuzzy memory that kids and adults alike will love to encounter again and again.  Monsters, Inc. isn’t the first time that Hollywood has tackled the issue of things that go bump in the night.  Though, in comparison to the 1989 movie, Little Monsters, Monsters, Inc. it is far more memorable.  And now that Disney and Pixar have re-issued this modern classic on Blu-ray/DVD and 3D BD/DVD combo packs, audiences can enjoy it all over again.  Those who still have yet to add this flick to their family library are rewarded for having waited, too.  For the most part, this latest re-issue carries everything that was on the movie’s original double-disc DVD release right down to the audio commentary.  There are some new additions though.  And of course, the clarity of the picture is that much better this time around, too.  So is it worth picking up if one already owns the DVD set?  That’s up to the general consumer.  But for those who have yet to own it, this is a wonderful reason to finally do just that.

The latest re-issue of Monsters, Inc. is largely carried over from the original 2002 double-disc DVD release.  However, included in this new re-issue is a second disc that includes some extra entertainment for kids.  One of the best of the new inclusions is “Roz’s 100 Door Challenge.”  This bonus Blu-ray trivia game requires young audiences to answer trivia questions in order to open all of the doors put before them in order to become a Monsters, Inc. employee.  The questions come in sets of ten at a time.  So at one hundred doors, this game will keep young audiences engaged and occupied for quite some time.  This is great for parents who are looking for a way to distract their kids and get some time for themselves.

“Roz’s 100 Door Challenge” is not the only extra bonus included with this latest re-issue of Monsters, Inc.  But it is a nice addition.  Just as entertaining as the noted bonus game is the included Toy Story short, “Party-saurus Rex.”  The entire original cast from the Toy Story franchise has come back for this short in which Rex (voiced by Wallace Shawn – The Incredibles, The Princess Bride) is accused of being a party pooper.  But then he ends up surprising them after the toys’ new young owner takes him to the bath with her.  He ends up becoming the life of the party.  This is a wonderfully entertaining short from this fully solidified franchise.  As entertaining as it is, it’s even more of a bonus in that it shows should Disney and Pixar ever decide to re-visit the gang in a larger sense, it is one franchise whose sequels or even reboot would be welcomed by audiences. 

The new bonus features do a lot in making the new Monsters, Inc. BD/DVD combo pack a good addition to any family’s home library.  The story itself plays just as much of a role in its success, too.  The story includes no less than two very important lessons for all of its viewers.  The first of those lessons centers on stereotypes.  It tackles this subject matter right from the story’s opening moments, presenting the monster world not as a dark and evil place, but just as happy and sunny as the human world.  And even the monsters themselves are crafted in an equally family friendly fashion.  Just as “Boo” calls him, Sully (John Goodman) is a big, mean looking monster.  But underneath all that fur, he’s just a big fuzzy “kitty”…or whatever animal one might want to use in comparison.  Both the kids and monsters believed stereotypes of the other that had been handed down and passed on.  But in giving Boo a chance, Sully and Mike prove that the stereotyped belief of children being evil, life threatening to be just that.  And Boo in her own way proves to her own self that not all monsters are bad as she grows closer to Sully in a sort of surrogate parent-child relationship.  It’s something of a tangent, but in presenting this relationship, Disney and Pixar have once more crafted a story that continues Disney’s long running tradition of emphasizing family in its movies.  Getting back to the original statement, what this movie’s writers have done is they have sent a message that it doesn’t matter who one is.  Unless one has proof of stereotypes, then one shouldn’t simply automatically believe said stereotypes.  Rather, one should take the time to find out for one’s own self how much truth they have, and not let them prevent friendships in the mean time.  It’s one more positive to what is already a fun, family friendly movie.    

In relation to the emphasis on family, Monsters, Inc. also presents the message of the importance of a child’s laughter.  Sure it’s an exaggeration.  But that a single child’s laughter could power a whole city really is a wonderful metaphorical illustration.  It illustrates how one child’s smile and laughter can brighten the lives of so many.  Yes it is a bit schmaltzy.  But the world needs something positive for young audiences.  And that’s exactly what this message and movie is.  For that and the rest of the positivity in this new re-issue, it is a movie worth adding to any family’s home library.  It is available now in stores and can be ordered online at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/monsters-inc.html

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Ella Enchanted A Funny Fairy Tale Spoof

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/Miramax

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Miramax

Actress Anne Hathaway recently took center stage in what could be argued to be one of the biggest roles of her career as Fantine in the latest big screen adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.  Ironically enough former American Idol star Adam Lambert has just come out, slamming Hathaway her Les Miserables co-stars, claiming that they can’t sing.  The young Mr. Lambert obviously showed his ignorance as Hathaway shined throughout her performance here.  And her performance in Les Miserables isn’t the first time that she has shown her vocal talents.  She also showed her ability in the 1994 Lionsgate/Miramax Films presentation of Ella Enchanted.

 Nearly two decades have passed since Ella Enchanted first debuted.  When it first debuted, it was met with mixed reviews.  But hindsight is twenty-twenty.  Anyone who saw the recent Julia Roberts/Lily Collins Snow White spoof, Mirror Mirror can attest to this.  The similarities between the two movies are rather obvious.  Considering that, looking back on Ella Enchanted, it’s actually quite the enjoyable fairy-tale spoof.  What audiences get in this movie is a story that pokes fun at the classic, Cinderella.  While it may be a fairy tale at its most basic level, Ella Enchanted isn’t one of those fairy tales that’s aimed at a specific audience.  Being that it’s a spoof of a fairy tale, it’s actually enjoyable enough that both boys and girls will enjoy it as will parents.  Most interesting of all is that what makes Ella Enchanted so enjoyable isn’t so much Hathaway’s acting here, but rather her supporting cast.  Audiences of all ages will love the comedic timing of the ogres and the elves throughout the story.  At one point late in the story, the ogres are helping Ella to save Prince Charmont.  They take down one of the guards and start to “season him” just as Ella stops them.  They look at her, and one of them asks in one of the story’s funniest lines, “Can’t we get him to go?”  In other darker movies, this would have been an unsettling moment.  But in the context of this story, it’s just one of many laugh out loud moments presented for audiences.  The elves make for their own laughs with their antics, too.  The musical number put on by the elves when Slannen brings Ella back to his village will have any audience laughing.  And that Slannen is entirely unlike the other elves is even funnier.  In a bizarre way, his mentality is reminiscent of Herbie the elf from the classic Rankin Bass holiday special, Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer

The ogres and the elves make for their own share of laughs throughout the length of Ella Enchanted.  They aren’t the only supporting cast that makes the movie enjoyable.  Fellow co-star and veteran actor Cary Elwes makes for even more laughs as the vile Prince Regent Edgar.  It’s fitting that Elwes was cast for the role considering his previous roles in The Princess Bride (1987), Hot Shots (1991), and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).  All three movies were themselves spoofs, just like this one.  So being at least his fourth time in such a movie, putting on his comedic best was already old hat to him.  But despite that, he still put forth his best foot and added so much enjoyment to the movie.  He even makes it clear in the movie’s bonus behind the scenes feature, “The Magical World of Ella Enchanted” how much he enjoyed working on the movie. Of course the movie’s main bonus feature offers more than just Elwes’ own view on being cast in the role of Edgar.  It also goes into a discussion on the seriousness with which director Tommy O’Haver took helming the movie both from the vantage point of the acting and the production.  It also serves to provide a tidbit of information that further disproves the uneducated and illogical view spewed recently by former American Idol finalist Adam Lambert regarding the talent of Hathaway and her cast mates in Les Miserables.  Viewers will get that and more in checking out “The Magical World of Ella Enchanted.”

In watching the main bonus feature associated with Ella Enchanted, viewers will gain more appreciation for the movie in seeing how seriously director Tommy O’Haver took helming the project.  Through both his own words and those of others who worked on the movie, it’s obvious that he wanted to get the most laughs possible without being too over the top silly.  He did just that, too.  His guidance on every aspect of the movie helped to make it one of the spoof genre’s funnier movies from the 90s.  Along with proving his devotion to the movie and the resultant effect, “The Magical World of Ella Enchanted” also reveals that when Anne Hathaway takes on Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’ in a musical number during the movie, it actually is her singing.  In a business in which so many actors do little more than lip synch to a track, she proved here (and later in the movie) that she really can sing.  This comes across as something minor when examined by itself.  But when examined in tandem with her performance in the recently released big screen adaptation of Les Miserables, audiences will appreciate even more her talent as both an actress and as a singer.  It proves that the comments recently made by former American Idol finalist Adam Lambert about her and her cast mates in this major motion picture are entirely baseless and thoughtless.  She is definitely a talented singer and an equally talented actress.  Both Les Miserables and Ella Enchanted prove that, using hindsight.  And now thanks to Lionsgate, both a whole new generation of audiences will understand that as will the generation who grew up with this underappreciated fairy tale spoof flick. That’s because it has been re-issued on a two disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack by Lionsgate and Miramax.  It’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=27239&TitleParentId=7229

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The Princess Bride Still Timeless After A Quarter Century

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment/MGM

Twenty-five years ago, audiences were introduced to a movie that has become one of the greatest and most beloved romantic comedies of all time in The Princess Bride.  This cinema classic has stood the test of time.  It’s still just as enjoyable today as it was when it originally debuted in theaters in 1987.  Whether one is a fan of the comedy drama or fantasy and romance, The Princess Bride is able to appease audiences of all three genres.  So what is it that makes it such a timeless work?  It all starts with the writing.  It’s a simple love story with more than enough romance, sword fighting, and satire to appease both male and female audiences.  Along with the writing, the acting of Cary Elwes and Robin Wright (and their supporting cast) and the directing of Hollywood legend Rob Reiner play their own role in the movie’s success.  And now in its twenty-fifth year as one of the movie industry’s greatest movies, the bonus features included in the latest re-issue make it that much better.The writing behind The Princess Bride is one of the biggest factors in the success of the movie.  This movie isn’t the first time that a movie has ever been adapted from a book.  That the story would actually be told from the book in the movie itself is in itself a funny joke.  [Rob] Reiner doesn’t mention anything about this in the additional commentary, but one can’t help but laugh at the thought that here is a story being told on screen within the context of a movie that has been adapted from the same book being read to the then very young Fred Savage.  Staying in that same vein, the movie does change a few things here and there.  But for the most part, it makes a valiant effort to stay true to author William Golding’s book by the same name.  Knowing this serves to make the movie that much more enjoyable.

The writing behind The Princess Bride is enjoyable as it tries to stay so close to the original book by William Golding.  Add in the acting of an all-star cast and the movie becomes even more enjoyable.  The chemistry and comedic timing of Cary Elwes and his castmates makes for so much laughter throughout the course of the movie’s near two hour run time.  Those laughs brought on by the cast’s acting are clean laughs.  As Reiner notes in the commentary, it’s clean enough for audiences of all ages to enjoy, which is part of the reason for the story’s longevity.  Audiences will also thrill at Rob Reiner’s comment in the bonus feature, “True Love: The Princess Bride Phenomenon” that no one but Cary Elwes and Robin Wright could play the roles of Wesley and Princess Buttercup.  And audiences will agree with that sentiment, too in watching the new interview included in this new edition.

Reiner’s commentary and his sit down with Elwes and Wright add so much more context to the acting and the writing that makes The Princess Bride such a wonderful adaptation.  His sit down with Elwes and Wright are new additions to this newest edition of the classic flick.  Along with it, this edition also culls the special features from the movie’s previous DVD releases for the first time.  There’s also a new feature title, “Love is Like a Storybook.”  It offers a more in depth look at specific elements of the story, making for that much more appreciation for the whole thing.  All combined, the bonus features and the commentary make this classic story that much better.  Add in great acting and equally impressive writing, and it goes without saying that The Princess Bride will continue to be a fan and family favorite for another quarter of a century.

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