PBS’ New Disney Profile Is One Of This Year’s Best New Documentaries

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Walt Disney is one of the most iconic figures in the Hollywood’s rich history. His name graces not one but two of America’s most famous and beloved theme parks and one of the most powerful companies in the entertainment world today. A number of biographies have been written about the legendary figure as well. Now PBS has added to that number with its own presentation centered on Disney in the form of American Experience: Walt Disney. Considering all that has been presented both on screen and on the printed page over the years, the obvious question that instantly arises here is that of what makes this presentation stand out. What makes this presentation stand out more than anything else is its overall narrative about Disney from his birth and upbringing to his tumultuous life as the head of his company to his unexpected passing. It presents Walt Disney the man and the man behind the myth warts and all. And despite what some might have viewers believe, those behind the presentation didn’t set out with this video bio to belittle and destroy Walt Disney’s reputation. Rather it was to paint a picture of an imperfect man. It is a picture of a man that was driven but at times maybe too driven for his own good. That should be kept in the front of viewers’ minds in watching this episode of American Experience. It is just one part of what makes the new DVD presentation of American Experience well worth the watch now that it is available on DVD. Its overall structure within the confines of its DVD is another reason that viewers will appreciate its presentation here. Its four-hour run time is broken up into two separate two-hour-long segments. Viewers can either watch each segment all the way through, or they can choose at which point they start watching. It might not seem like much, but a more lengthy discussion later will explain just why it is so important. Last but not least is the material used to help advance the story of Disney’s life. More specifically speaking the collective interviews, vintage footage, and pictures help to paint the picture intended by writer/director Sarah Colt and co-writer Tom Jennings. Those collective elements essentially tell Colt and Jennings’ story. They bring everything full circle in this presentation with the end result being a program that proves to be one more of this year’s best new documentaries if not the best of the year’s best. Regardless of where it ends up on any critic’s list it can be said that this latest take on Walt Disney’s life is one that every lover of the film arts and film history should see and should have in his or her own home DVD library. It is yet more proof of exactly why PBS remains today the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television.

American Experience: Walt Disney is one of this year’s best new documentary presentations if not the best of the year’s best. Even with it coming in at a whopping four hours it still proves from beginning to end to be a rich, thorough examination of the life nad legacy of one of the entertainment’s most iconic figures. It presents not just Walt Disney the grandfatherly figure that the world came to know in his most successful years but the man behind the man, too. There are those out there that would like viewers to believe that writer/director Sarah Colt and co-writer Tom Jennings set out with this presentation to paint a negative picture of Walt Disney. But those that take the time to watch the program in whole will find that quite the opposite is the case. What they set out to do was pay homage to a man who while being perhaps too driven for his own good at times, also became a paradigm for the entertainment industry even now in the twenty-first century thanks to that drive. Audiences will be surprised to learn of Disney’s desire not so much to make cartoons but to make–in his own words–art. He was not the type to sit easily on his own laurels because of his drive. He didn’t want to churn out this movie or that movie or this TV show or that one just for the sake of it. He wanted people to take notice. Considering that, one can’t help but wonder what Mister Disney would think of what has become of his beloved studio. Just as interesting is that viewers are presented with a man who despite his intense drive, was a surprisingly vulnerable man, emotionally speaking. That is exhibited upon the death of two of those closest to him. He held in a lot of emotional pain and interestingly enough used that pain to push himself even more. It’s just one more example of why the portrait painted by Colt and Jennings within this presentation is so important to its overall success. Again, it is a portrait of a man who while perhaps flawed in one way, was just as worthy of applause for that drive. For if not for that drive, some of the advances that the movie and TV world have today might have never happened or might not have happened until years beyond when they happened. To that extent, the portrait painted of Walt Disney in this presentation in this presentation is one that is more positive than negative even showing Walt’s les shiny side. And it makes the documentary in whole all the more interesting for audiences, proving yet again why it is so important to the whole of the program.

The portrait of Walt Disney that is painted in this program is not of the shining, grandfatherly figure that so many Americans came to know over the course of their lives and of his. It is a portrait of a man who despite his drive (and because of it) was then and is even today one of the most important figures in the history of both film and television. It is just one part of the program’s whole that make it such an impactful program. The program’s structure in its DVD presentation is just as important to viewers’ enjoyment as the central story. The four-hour-long program is split, on DVD, into two separate two-hour programs. This allows audiences to choose whether they want to start on Disney’s early life or his later years as in the second part. On a more precise level, both Part 1 and Part 2 are given their own separation points, thus letting audiences choose just how precise they want to be in where they begin and end watching Part 1 or Part 2. On the surface, this doesn’t seem all that important. But the reality is quite different. It gives viewers an option that streaming a program such as this one doesn’t give. If viewers have to stop watching a program online and pick it up later, they have to drag and click to find the precise moment where they left off. What’s more, they have to have that access to begin with that allows for streaming. In watching the program on DVD, viewers can start and stop wherever they want without having to scrub through a timing bar. They can just pick a specific scene and if need be fast forward or back up until they reach the given starting point. On yet another level, by having all of these options on DVD, viewers won’t even have to worry about whether or not the program is still available to stream online. Rather they can watch it any time that they want and as much of it as they want. And as of the time of this review’s posting, only the program’s first half is currently available in full. In regards to its second half, only the first chapter of that half is currently available to stream. The rest of Part 2 is seemingly unavailable now. Now having noted all of that, it should be clear by now why even something as simple as a program’s structure in its main menu is just as important as any other part including the case of this deep presentation.

Both the story presented within American Experience: Walt Disney and the program’s overall structure in its DVD presentation are equally important to the success of the program’s viewing experience in their own right. For all of their importance, they are only two-thirds of the whole of what makes this documentary such an interesting presentation. The collective interviews, vintage footage and photographs used to tell the story of Disney’s life and legacy round out the presentation. Throughout the course of the program audiences get to hear from a handful of former Disney employees as well as Disney biographer Neal Gabler, art historian Carmenita Higginbotham, and a number of other academics and professionals. Each interview builds upon the last throughout the course of the program with the end result being a picture of a man who is not so much a mythical figure but an icon even despite his overpowering drive for success. Adding even more depth to that picture are the vintage film clips and pictures used to illustrate the story of Disney’s life and legacy. Viewers get to see Disney’s change over time through that collection of footage and pictures. Also made clearer to viewers is why he changed and why he did just that. From his personal life to his business life, viewers are presented with both sides of Walt Disney from his childhood to his death. The understanding that the footage and pictures provide to viewers leads to a greater appreciation for just who Walt Disney was and for all that he contributed to the world of movies and television that audiences know today. In gaining that new appreciation, viewers will in turn look back on the whole of American Experience: Walt Disney and agree that this episode of PBS’ hit series is, again, one of the best of this year’s new documentaries if not the best of the year’s best. They will also agree in gaining that appreciation that yet again PBS has proven once more why it remains the last bastion of truly worthwhile programming on television today.

American Experience: Walt Disney is not the first bio on Walt Disney to ever be released. That aside, it still proves in the end to be one of this year’s best new documentaries if not the best of the year’s new offerings in that category. That is because of the rich, deep profile presented throughout the course of its four-hour run time. This includes the stories presented by the program’s interviewees and the collective vintage footage and pictures used to help illustrate those stories. It is also thanks to the program’s structure in its new DVD release. All things considered here, American Experience: Walt Disney proves in whole that it is more than deserving of being called one of this year’s best new documentaries if not the best of the best. It is available now and can be ordered online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=american%20experience%20walt%20disney&origkw=American+Experience+Walt+Disney&sr=1. Audiences can see a preview of the program online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPNOBBoZqIo. More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience

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

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American Experience: Walt Disney Available Now

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Walt Disney is one of the most well-known figures in the annals of Hollywood’s rich history. The man behind Disneyland and DisneyWorld, and what is now one of the most powerful media empires in the world, Wat Disney is profiled in the new PBS program American Experience: Walt Disney.

The latest episode of PBS’ popular series American Experience, American Experience: Walt Disney was released on Tuesday, September 15th. Available exclusively on DVD, the program is available for MSRP of $29.99 and runs a total of four hours. It is four hours very well spent, too. The program features not only Walt Disney the beloved figure that the media allowed the world to see, but also Walt Disney the imperfect person. It presents a man whose love for his craft led him to be both a figure of respect and revile among some including his own employees. That is not to say that he was a bad person by any means. Rather it presents Disney as a man who cared too much. Through interviews with both academics and two of Disney’s biographers, this episode of American Experience shows Walt Disney as a man for which audiences will feel sympathy as well as some surprise. Audiences can check out a trailer for the DVD online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPNOBBoZqIo. It can be ordered online now online direct via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=american%20experience%20walt%20disney&origkw=American+Experience+Walt+Disney&sr=1. More information on this and other episodes of American Experience is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience

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

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Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For Mr. Ed: The Complete Series

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory will release another important piece of television history next month.

On Tuesday, December 9th, Shout! Factory will release Mr. Ed: The Complete Series on DVD. Between 2009 and 2011, Shout! Factory released the first five seasons of this standout classic on separate stand-alone DVD box sets. Now all six seasons and 143 episodes will be available for the first time in one complete box set courtesy of Shout! Factory. Along with being the first time that the entire 143-episode series will be presented in one box, Mr. Ed: The Complete Series also marks the first time that each episode of the series’ first season will be presented in their original full-length presentation. It also marks the first time that the series’ sixth season will have ever been released, too.

Along with the series’ complete 143-episode run, Shout! Factory’s upcoming complete series release of Mr. Ed will also include a number of bonus features for true lovers of classic television. Audiences that order Mr. Ed: The Complete Series now from Shout! Factory’s online store will get free U.S. standard shipping. It can be pre-ordered now direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/mister-ed-the-complete-series.  

Mr. Ed centers on architect Wilbur Post (Alan Young—Duck Tales), and his equine friend after whom the series was named. As the story goes, Mr. Ed was left behind in his barn when his former owner sold the barn and the rest of the farm on which he lives. When Wilbur and his wife Carol (Connie Hines) buy the property, they are surprised to learn that the property includes Mr. Ed. Wilbur and Mr. Ed end up forming a friendship that leads to quite a number of madcap adventures over the course of six seasons. Mr. Ed earned a Golden Globe in 1963 for Best Television Series (Comedy).  More information on Mr. Ed: The Complete Series and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

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.

Saving Mr. Banks Has Few Saving Graces

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios’ recently released full length picture Saving Mr. Banks is not the worst movie that the studio has ever released. It is also, hardly the best movie that WDS has ever released. The story presented in this movie is little more than another period piece that can be tossed into the ever-growing pile of movies that are “based on actual events” and forgotten over time. It tries to make up for this by throwing in an attempt at a serious story about Travers’ attempt to reconcile her past and present that ultimately falls flat. That is thanks in large part to the glut of flashbacks and the unevenness of those transitions between the flashbacks. For all of the negatives that weigh down the story, there is at least one positive to the whole presentation. That bright shining light is the acting on the part of the movie’s largely A-List cast. Other than that sole beacon, it’s difficult to ultimately say that there is anything that truly “saves” Saving Mr. Banks.

Saving Mr. Banks is anything but one of the best movies that Walt Disney Studios has ever released. There is very little that one can argue actually “saves” this period piece. That’s because ultimately, it’s just one more movie that is “based on actual events.” Co-writers Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith seemed to have gotten down Travers’ persona. And veteran actress Emma Thompson brought Travers even more to life with her expert depiction of the famed author. However, one cannot deny the fact that Disney likely took a certain amount of liberties with the story of how Travers’ beloved book Mary Poppins came to life. That is just the way of movies that are “based on actual events.” Marcel and Smith had to have known that there are those—like this critic—that would know this, too. So their answer to that was to throw in a personal drama story on the part of Travers that sees her trying to reconcile her troubled childhood as she worked with Walt Disney and his people on their adaptation of her book. It’s a bit much. Add in the glut of flashbacks and the unevenness of said flashbacks, and audiences get what is one more loose brick in this movie.

The attempt on the part of Marcel and Smith to craft a dual-pronged story in Saving Mr. Banks is a major part of the movie’s downfall. It isn’t the end of the movie’s problems, either. The glut of flashbacks that Marcel and Smith toss into the story and their unevenness hurts the script even more. One doesn’t even fully realize that the pair is using flashbacks as part of the story until after about the fifth time that the transition happens. The primary reason for this is that there is little to indicate the separation of the scenes. The story constantly jumps from Travers’ present day life to her childhood growing up in Australia. And because there is no clear indicator of the jump back and forth in time, audiences are left scratching their heads at who the little girl is until again, after about the fifth or sixth time that the transition happens. There is perhaps one clear transition that finally makes it clear for audiences that they are looking into what is supposed to be Travers’ childhood. While Marcel and Smith do finally make it clear what audiences are seeing in the scene transitions, things don’t get much better. That’s because it actually starts to feel like the flashbacks in question tend to happen at an increasing pace. Even in that increased frequency of flashbacks, the transitions between past and present are still not entirely clear. They just seem to happen at random points without any clear separation. It only serves to hurt the movie even more. Thankfully for all of the problems with Saving Mr. Banks, it does have one saving grace. That saving grace is the acting on the part of the movie’s largely A-List cast.

If not for the acting on the part of Saving Mr. Banks’ cast, this movie would possibly be classified as one of the least of Disney’s movies in recent years. That being the case, Casting Director Ronna Kress deserves a standing ovation. Kress pulled in some of the biggest names in Hollywood for this movie. Actress Emma Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction, Nanny McPhee, Nanny McPhee Returns) was an obvious choice considering her time in the role of another literary nanny named Nanny McPhee. McPhee’s character was based on the literary Nurse Matilda. Nurse Matilda’s books came years after Mary Poppins was published. But her stories are arguably far more enjoyable than that of Mary Poppins or even this semi-historical look at how the book was adapted to the big screen. Ironically enough, Thompson’s depiction of author P.L. Travers was just as spot on as that of Nanny McPhee. One can’t help but laugh at the obvious cultural differences between herself and her American hosts. And while he is in a supporting role in this movie, fellow veteran actor Paul Giamatti (The Illusionist, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Duets) is incredible as Travers’ personal driver Ralph. Ralph’s innocence makes him such a lovable character. Jason Scwartzman (Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeerling Limited, Rushmore) and B.J. Novak (The Amazing Spiderman 2, Inglourious Basterds, The Smurfs 2) are just as entertaining as the famed Sherman Brothers. Anyone that knows the history of Walt Disney Studios knows that the Sherman Brothers are responsible for some of the greatest musical numbers to ever grace the big screen in Disney’s golden age. And their drive to get the songs right despite Travers’ constant refusal makes them such sympathetic characters. Not once did they ever get mad at her for her stubbornness. And their playful nature in playing their songs makes them even more lovable. Tom Hanks can’t be ignored here either, as the one and only Walt Disney. Those in the makeup department got the look of Walt Disney pretty close with Hanks. And one must agree that he expertly channels Disney, too. He worked so hard to get the part down that he even tried to get down Walt Disney’s accent for the role. It’s subtle. But it’s there. And it makes his depiction all the more enjoyable to watch. It’s one more piece of the whole of this movie that makes Saving Mr. Banks at least somewhat bearable.

The acting on the part of Saving Mr. Banks’ cast is the one shining light that makes this movie bearable. The sad reality of this movie is that despite the entertaining portrayals on the part of the cast, there is little to nothing else positive that can be noted of the film. The transitions between Travers’ childhood and adult life are far too many and nowhere near clear enough. And the dual-pronged story crafted by co-writers Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith ultimately combines with those scene transition issues to make Saving Mr. Banks anything but memorable. Sadly these issues together prove that other than the cast’s acting, there is little to anything else that “saves” Saving Mr. Banks.

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Olive Films To Release Cagney, Marx Brothers Classics May 6th

Courtesy: Olive Films

Courtesy: Olive Films

Olive Films has announced that it will release two Hollywood classics on DVD and Blu-ray next month.

Olive Films will release Jimmy Cagney’s 1943 film Johnny Come Lately and The Marx Brothers’ 1949 film Love Happy on May 6th. Cagney stars as ex-newspaperman Tom Richards opposite Grace George’s Vinnie McLeod in Johnny Come Lately. After McLeod–who is himself the editor of a failing newspaper–saves Richards from serving a jail sentence for vagrancy, the pair teams up to expose political corruption in a small town. Richards and McLeod have to face their evil rival, corrupt newspaper owner Big Boss Dougherty (Edward McNamara) as they attempt to uncover all of the corruption going on in the town. The role was the first for Cagney since his Academy Award ® winning role the previous year in the beloved film Yankee Doodle Dandy. Cagney won the Oscar for Best Actor thanks to the movie.

Marjorie Main (Ma and P Kettle), Marjorie Lord (Make Room For Daddy), and Hattie McDaniel (Gone With The Wind) serve as supporting cast in Johnny Come Lately. William K. Howard directed and composer Leigh Harline (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio) handled the movie’s score. Harline would go on to receive an Oscar ® nomination for this movie’s score. Johnny Come Lately will be available on DVD and Blu-ray May6th for SRP of $24.95(DVD) and $29.95 (Blu-ray).

Also on May 6th, Olive Films will release the Marx Brothers’ classic film Love Happy on DVD and Blu-ray. This movie was the last for the famed brothers. Harpo leads his brothers in this movie in which he plays a Robin Hood type of character.   He is trying to help a group of struggling actors that are trying to open a new musical without any financial backing. When he accidentally takes some smuggled diamonds in a shoplifting heist, Harpo and his friends come face to face with Madame Egelichi (Ilona Massey). Unbeknownst to them, Madame Egelichi has tracked her smuggled diamonds back to the theater where the acting troupe is trying to put on its musical. She hatches a plan to be the sole financial backer for the theater and for the musical so that she can get her diamonds back. The result is plenty of laughs for audiences. Harpo’s brothers Groucho and Chico are along for the ride in Love Happy as are fellow co-stars Vera-Ellen, Raymond Burr, and Marilyn Monroe.

Love Actually will be available in stores and online May 6th on DVD and Blu-ray. It will retail for $24.95 (DVD) and $29.95 (Blu-ray). More information on these and other releases from Olive Films is available online at http://www.olivefilms.com, http://www.facebook.com/olivefilms, and http://twitter.com/olivefilms. 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.

Disney’s Frozen Is A Warm, Entertaining Story

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Officials with Walt Disney Studios told audiences in 2010 that when it released its most recent fairy tale based movie Tangled that that movie would be the last of the studio’s “princess movies” for a while. Apparently, that didn’t last very long, as Disney introduced a new princess last year in its hugely touted movie Frozen. Walt Disney himself had wanted to do a movie based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Snow Queen during his life, according to one of the bonus features included in the movie’s new home release. Taking that into consideration, it would have been interesting to see how his adaptation would have looked had it ever come to fruition. In the absence of that potential imagining, audiences have been given Frozen. This take on Andersen’s fairy tale is not the worst of Disney’ s movies. On the other hand, it is also not one of the studio’s best, either. There are just as many positives about this movie as there are negatives. The combination of the good and bad make Frozen a movie at least worth a single watch with the family, but not much more.

Frozen is neither Disney’s best nor its best. There are just as many positives about this movie as there are negatives. So we’ll start with one of the positives. The main positive that Frozen boasts is its writing. Writer/Co-Director Jennifer Lee and her staff of writers—Chris Buck, Shane Morris, and Dean Wellins–crafted in her script a story that is a surprisingly refreshing breath of fresh air in comparison to Disney’s past fairy tale adaptations. So much can be noted of the writing behind this story. Audiences that enjoyed Disney’s last princess movie, Tangled, will enjoy this movie much for the same reasons as that story. It boasts a strong, self-confident female lead and nonstop laughs from the buddy comedy between Kristoff and his loyal moose Sven. More than anything though, audiences will appreciate the message of sisterhood and the surprise twist included in the story’s dual underlying romance subplot. Lee and company lead viewers to think they know what will happen with the romance subplot only to throw the proverbial monkey wrench in the works near the end. All of these elements collectively would have made Mr. Disney proud. It proves that Lee and he writers really thought about what they put into the story. They didn’t want to just make another princess movie. They wanted to make something that stood out. And it definitely does thanks to that attention to detail.

The attention to detail on the part of Frozen’s writing staff and lead Writer/Co-Director Jennifer Lee make this a movie worth at least one watch with the family. It makes the movie stand out in a good way. While their work makes the movie stand out in a good way, it also stands out in a not so good way. It stands out in a not so good way because of its musical numbers. It’s not so much the musical numbers that are at issue here. Rather, it is the number of musical numbers and the pace at which they come that is at issue. It seems like there is a musical number every few minutes or so. By comparison to Disney’s past musical adaptations, the amount of musical numbers in this movie and the pace at which they come is astounding. It’s very Broadway style. The obvious argument here is that some of Disney’s best movies have been turned into Broadway musicals. This is true. But those same musicals that were translated to the stage also didn’t have near as many musical numbers as this movie. So again, it becomes the story’s one central issue. Luckily, it is the only real noticeable negative to the overall presentation.

The musical numbers incorporated into Frozen and the pace at which they come are collectively the only truly noticeable negative to the movie’s overall presentation. That is a good thing for this movie. That means that the positives outweigh the negatives, and make the movie more worth the watch if only once. Now that it has been released on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack, there is one more positive worth noting about this movie. That positive is the bonus featurette outlining the history behind this movie and how Walt Disney had actually wanted to craft a movie based on The Snow Queen even some seventy years ago. The comparisons of the original concept art for that proposed movie to what was crafted for this movie are quite eye-opening. There are even discussions on the ride that would be spawned as a result of the originally proposed movie. There is much more in-depth material that comes from this central bonus feature. And audiences will get to find out just how much more when they purchase the movie for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack. That central bonus feature along with the movie’s central story, are enough to make up for the movie’s one glaring negative. And because of that, they make Frozen worth at least one watch, if no more.

Frozen can be purchased now in stores and online via the Disney store at http://www.disneystore.com/frozen-blu-ray-collectors-edition/mp/1349621/1000316/. More information on this and other releases from Walt Disney Studios is available online at http://www.facebook.com/WaltDisneyStudios and http://twitter.com/disneypictures. 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.

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 http://www.disneystore.com/planes-3d-blu-ray-2-disc-combo-pack/mp/1346514/1000316/?cmp=OTL-Dcom&att=Dcom_FS_Planes3DBluRay_Home_BuyMovie and http://www.disneystore.com/planes-dvd-digital-copy/mp/1346520/1000316/.  More information on this and other releases from Walt Disney Studios is available online at http://www.facebook.com/WaltDisneyStudios and http://www.waltdisneystudios.com.  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.