LPS: Making Friends Is A “Little” Collection That Boasts Big Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Hasbro Studios/Discovery Family

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Hasbro Studios/Discovery Family

The Littlest Pet Shop is officially open for business once again.  That is because Shout! Factory Kids has released yet another new compilation of episodes from the family favorite animated series.  Littlest Pet Shop: Making Friends was released in stores and online earlier this month.  And there is plenty for parents and children alike to appreciate about this latest collection beginning with its episodes.  They are collectively just one of the collection’s important elements.  The writing behind each episode is just as important as the episodes.  Last but not least of note within these episodes are the musical numbers presented throughout.  Each element proves important in its own right to the whole of Littlest Pet Shop: Making Friends.  Altogether they make this latest collection of episodes another little collection that once again boasts lots of big fun for the whole family.

Shout! Factory Kids’ new Littlest Pet Shop DVD Littlest Pet Shop: Making Friends is another little collection that once again boasts lots of big fun for the whole family.  This is due at least in part to the episodes that make up the body of the collection. This new DVD, the series’ tenth, features five more (technically four since one of the episodes is a two-part episode) episodes loaded with fun for the whole family.  What especially makes the episodes themselves so important to the collection is that each one follows the same underlying theme of making friends.  That theme is presented in different ways from one episode to the next and will be discussed shortly.  That is tied into the episodes’ writing.  The continuous theme presented throughout these episodes is just one part of what makes the episodes important to note in this collection.  Audiences will be just as happy to note in this collection that all five (or four, whichever side of that argument one chooses) episodes come from the same season—Season 3.  Adding to that all they are presented in chronologic order for all intents and purposes.  Obviously not every episode from Season 3 is here.  But in examining the order of the episodes presented on the disc, they are presented in the same order as they appeared in their original broadcast.  All that was missing was the episodes in between.  Though, many of those other episodes have already been presented in previous LPS collections.  One can only hope that eventually after the series’ full four seasons have been presented in its standalone sets, the whole of Season 3 (and the series’ other three seasons) will see a proper complete release for true fans of the series.  That is a discussion for another time.  Getting back on track, the episodes presented in LPS: Making Friends prove in the end to be hugely important to the set’s presentation.  They are collectively not the set’s only important element.  The actual writing within the episodes is just as important to note as the episodes themselves.

The episodes that are presented in Shout! Factory Kids’ new LPS collection are in their own right hugely important to the set’s presentation.  One reason for that is that all of the set’s featured episodes follow one continuous theme.  The theme in question is indeed that of making friends.  Adding to that is the fact that the episodes each come from the same season.  As if that isn’t enough, the episodes are also presented in an order that is at least partially chronological.  Given, it’s not entirely chronological since the episodes that separate them aren’t there.  But in general, they are presented in the same order in which they appeared in their original broadcast.  All things considered here, the episodes prove hugely important to this latest LPS collection. Of course the episodes would be nothing without their writing.  The writing is what connects the friendship theme from one episode to the next.  At the same time, the stories presented from one episode to the next stand on their own merits.  In the set’s opener “Sleeper,” Blythe’s furry friends meet a new raccoon friend named Mr. Von Fuzzlebutt.  Yes, that’s really his name.  Everybody really likes him, especially one specific member of the group.  The thing is that this new friend is nocturnal.  So he spends much of his time at LPS sleeping.  This leaves Sunil and Vinnie to have to make it appear that MR. Von Fuzzlebutt is awake when he’s not.  The result is a story that has been done so many times before in so many different TV shows and movies.  One of the most notable of those others is the famed 80s buddy comedy Weekend at Bernie’s.  Keeping that in mind, the story at the center of this episode is one that will definitely entertain today’s parents (many of whom grew up in the 80s) just as much as their children.  The story behind this episode is just one example of what makes the writing within LPS: Making Friends so important to the set’s presentation.  The story behind “Why Can’t We Be Friends” is another example of the importance of the episodes’ writing.

“Sleeper” is a key example of what makes the writing behind this set’s episodes so important.  It is just one key example of what makes the writing so important, too.  The work behind “Why Can’t We Be Friends” is another example of what makes the writing so important.  Yet again here is that theme of friendship.  At the same time, the story stands on its own merits.  In the case of this episode the LPS pets meet a friendly spider named Webber.  Only not everybody is a fan of Webber at first.  Sunil, as it turns out, is deathly scared of Webber because of his own fear of spiders.  This is funny in itself considering that Sunil is a mongoose, who is much bigger than Webber.  It’s like the stereotype of an elephant being afraid of a mouse.  Of course over time Sunil learns those all-too-important lessons about stereotypes and pre-judging others.  Thanks to that lesson Sunil and Webber become friends in the end.  That story and lesson make this episode stand out clearly from the set’s other episodes even as it carries the set’s underlying, connective theme.  It is hardly the last episode that can be cited in proving the importance of the episodes’ writing, too.  The set’s two-part closer “It’s The Pet Fest!” is one more prime example of what makes the writing in these episodes so important to its presentation.

The writing within “Sleeper” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends” clearly shows why the writing in this set’s episodes is so important.  The stories stand out from one another but the underlying theme of friendship is clear and present.  It is just presented in different fashion within each episode.  That is a great thing, too.  They are not the only episodes to show the importance of the set’s writing.  The set’s two-part closer “It’s The Pet Fest” shows that importance just as much as “Sleeper” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”  This episode sees Blythe organizing a fundraising concert for a good animal cause.  There’s just one problem.  She didn’t file for the necessary permits in time.  As a result she has to make friends with her mortal enemies, the Biskit Twins for help.  It is yet another familiar plot element that has been used in so many movies and television shows before as is the case of a young person arranging a benefit concert.  Even though they are not exactly new plot elements, the show’s writers still manage to successfully keep both lot elements fresh and entertaining in this episode.  They do so by not only having Blythe bring in a band that is world-famous in the LPS universe, but also by having the LPS pets put on their own concert, too.  In the end Blythe and the Biskit twins do end up working and existing together.  And the benefit proves to be a huge success.  Blythe even gets a big new honor as a result while the Biskit twins are left literally high and dry to wrap up the episode on a high note.  Again, the episode presents that underlying, recurring theme of friendship yet still holds its own against its counterparts here.  That being the case, the episode’s story and its theme come together to show just as much here the importance of the episodes’ writing as “Sleeper” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends.”  “Room Enough” shows that importance, too.  Together with the set’s other noted episodes it shows even more the importance of the writing within these episodes.  All in all, the writing within every one of these episodes shows with full clarity the importance of the writing within the episodes.  They show why the writing is just as important to the set’s presentation as the episodes themselves.  The episodes and their writing are together not the set’s only important elements.  The musical numbers that have been incorporated into the episodes are important to the set’s presentation, too believe it or not.

The episodes that are featured in Shout! Factory Kids’ new LPS collection are undeniably important to the set’s presentation.  The same can be said of the writing within each of the featured episodes.  As important as both elements prove to be to the set’s overall presentation they are not its only important elements.  The musical numbers that are incorporated into these episodes are—believe it or not—just as important to the set as the writing and the episodes themselves.  The musical numbers are so important because of how rare they are in the grand scheme of the series’ four-season run.  It is obvious in the case of the numbers featured here that they musical numbers were intentionally incorporated into the episodes.  They were actually intentional parts of the story rather than just random mini-numbers thrown in for the sake of it.  They actually added to each story.  There’s a full-on pop punk piece in the set’s closer, and a more “poppy” number in “Room Enough” that will have viewers tapping their toes just as much.  For the rockers out there, the writers even incorporated a solid rock tune into “Sleeper’s” story.  In a weird way, it sort of conjures thoughts of certain musical numbers presented in Disney’s Phineas and Ferb.  Coincidence or not the similarity is there.  And it is fun regardless.  It is just as fun as those numbers and the others presented in this set, too.  Keeping that in mind, it should be clear just why the musical numbers incorporated in this set’s featured episodes are just as important to note as the episodes’ stories and the episodes themselves.  Each element is important in its own right.  That is obvious.  All things considered though, they make this DVD in whole yet another little collection that boasts once again lots of big fun for the whole family.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:



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Make A Bet, Enter For A Chance To Win “A Bet’s A Bet” From Phil’s Picks

Courtesy:  Cinedigm

Courtesy: Cinedigm

Independent movie and television studio Cinedigm will release its new rom-com A Bet’s A Bet next Tuesday, January 20th. And one lucky person will win a copy of the movie on DVD for free courtesy of Phil’s Picks this Friday, January 16th. Anyone that wants to enter for a chance at a free copy of the movie just needs to go to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks, “Like” it, and then write on the page that they want to be entered for a chance to win the movie.   It’s that easy. A review of the movie is available online now via the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-opposite-sex-is-an-edgy-entertaining-rom-com/.

A Bet’s A Bet, which also goes by the title The Opposite Sex, is an independent release. But it boasts a superstar cast. Daytime Emmy© Award winner Jennifer Finnigan (The Bold and the Beautiful, Tyrant) co-directed and co-starred with Jonathan Silverman (Weekend at Bernie’s, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Close to Home). Kristin Chenoweth (Rio 2, Stranger Than Fiction, Glee) makes an appearance early on in the movie. Also on board are Josh Hopkins (G.I. Jane, Cougar Town, The Perfect Storm) opposite lead star Geoff Stults (She’s Out Of My League, Wedding Crashers, The Break-Up). Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan & Kel, All That) appears in a supporting role along with Dana Ashbrook (Twin Peaks, Dawson’s Creek, Crash) and Josh Cooke (I Love You, Man, Hart of Dixie, Manhattan). Debra Jo Rupp (That 70s Show, She’s Out of My League, Big) makes an appearance as Vince’s (Geoff Stults) secretary. And Eric Roberts (The Expendables, The Dark Knight, The Cable Guy), brother of actress Julia Roberts, stars as Vince’s boss Mr. Campbell. Even former N’Sync member Joey Fatone makes a cameo as a delivery man. Actress Mena Suvari (Chicago Fire, American Beauty, Six Feet Under) rounds out the cast as Vince’s love interest. It is her relationship with Vince that serves as the basis for the movie’s script.

The script behind A Bet’s A Bet centers on high-powered divorce attorney Vince (Stults) and his budding relationship with equally strong-willed divorcee Jane (Suvari). Vince is a self-proclaimed bachelor for life who is more focused on sleeping with every woman that he can get. On the other side of things, Jane is going through a nasty divorce. When the pair is introduced through a couple of mutual friends who just happened to be married, a series of hilarious bets plays out. The end result is a budding relationship that neither expected as both Vince and Jane are such headstrong characters. Jane’s own divorce case plays a role in the pair’s growing relationship, too. It offers its own share of laughs as audiences will see in watching the movie.

A Bet’s A Bet (The Opposite Sex) will be available on DVD next Tuesday, January 20th. It will retail for $14.93. It runs ninety-seven minutes counting end credits. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, and giveaways from Phil’s Picks, 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, and giveaways in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Opposite Sex Is An Edgy, Entertaining Rom-Com

Courtesy: Cinedigm

Courtesy: Cinedigm

Opposites attract or so people have been raised to understand. That old adage has served as the basis for so many rom-coms throughout the ages. Apparently so do people with the same personality type as is seen in indie studio Cinedigm’s new rom-com The Opposite Sex. Not to be confused with the 1956 June Allyson/Joan Collins rom-com, this movie is a fun, edgy romp that will have audiences laughing nonstop from start to finish. It obviously isn’t the first story of its kind by any means. But the execution of its oft-used boy meets girl-loses her-gets her back in the end formula is relatively creative. It’s interesting to note that while similar setups have been used in previous rom-coms, this one is perhaps the first to actually incorporate a figure whose job it is to break up marriages himself finding love in the most unexpected place. The script behind The Opposite Sex is within itself plenty of reason to check out this new indie rom-com. The work of the star-studded movie’s cast is just as praiseworthy. Geoff Stults conjures Charlie Sheen’s Charlie Harper and even Josh Duhamel as he plays the chauvinistic Vince opposite the equally strong-willed Jane (Mena Suvari). The supporting cast on both sides collectively adds its own touch to the film making for even more laughs. Through it all, the movie’s pacing and its run time come together to round out the reasons for the success of The Opposite Sex. The movie–minus end credits–clocks in right at ninety minutes. throughout the course of that time, the story’s pacing never loses a step. Together with the work of the movie’s cast and the script behind the whole thing, The Opposite Sex proves to be a late addition to this year’s list of the best new indie flicks and the best new movies overall, too.

The Opposite Sex is not the first story of its kind. That goes without saying. The standard boy meets girl-loses her-gets her back in the end formula used as the script’s basis has been used for nearly every rom-com that has come before it. Yet the execution of that formula makes this indie rom-com stand solidly on its own two feet. This applies both among the indie film community and that of its much bigger-name counterparts. Co-writers and cast mates Jennifer Finnigan (Tyrant, Better With You, Close To Home) and Josh Silverman (Weekend at Bernie’s, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Close To Home) placed lead character Vince in the position of a successful, high-powered divorce lawyer who ends up finding love through the most unexpected place. His character in particular is relatively original. Though audiences that are familiar with the likes of Hitch, What Women Want, and How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days will see instant similarities between those movies and this work. Just like the aforementioned stories, this work sees the standard male lead with the “bachelor for life” mentality “unexpectedly” falling for a certain woman after his view of the opposite sex changes over the time that he spends with her. In the case of The Opposite Sex Vince finds that certain female love interest thanks to his friend’s wife Stephanie (Jennnifer Finnigan). Stephanie is old friends with Jane (Suvari). Jane and Stephanie’s decades-longfriendship leads to a rather interesting meeting between Jane and Vince, which in itself makes for its own share of laughs. That first unfcomfortable (in many more ways than one) meeting is the first spark that leads to the pair’s slowly evolving romance. Again, the formula is very similar to previous rom-coms. But the ability of FInnigan and Silverman to change things up just a bit is just enough to make the script work in this case.

The formula used for The Opposite Sex’s script is one that is quite well-known to audiences of the rom-com genre. To the credit of both Jennifer Finnigan and Josh Silverman, the pair was adapted the formula in question just enough in the case of this movie to keep the story entertaining from start to finish. The script itself would have been nothing though, without a cast to properly interpret and make it entertaining. Again, lead stars Mena Suvari (Six Feet Under, American Beauty, Chicago Fire) and Geoff Stults (Wedding Crashers, She’s Out Of My League, The Breakup) do just that. And considering the duo’s experience in the world of rom-coms, it should come as no surprise. Suvari will have even the movie’s male audiences laughing as Jane puts Vince in his place time and again without even the slightest hint of remorse. From making a bet on a twenty-dollar pool game to some rather more interesting situations, Jane never once lets herself become the standard pushover female who ends up giving in to the guy. This submission on the part of the female lead happens far too often in other rom-coms. So it’s nice to see that didn’t happen here. It’s yet another way in which this movie stands out from its bigger-name counterparts. The duo’s supporting cast adds even more enjoyment to the movie, too. Audiences will find themselves laughing just as much as Stephanie (Finnigan) and Jane (Suvari) team up to play charades against Vince (Stults) and Kenny (Josh Hopkins). The sight of Kenny trying to act out the act of taxidermy will have audiences laughing tears of joy. It is such a hilarious moment because there is so much truth to something as simple as charades. The actors’ reactions to Kenny’s attempts only adds to the moment’s hilarity. And even when Kenny is by himself, trying to counsel a couple played by Josh Silverman and Nadia Dajani, audiences will laugh just as much. Add in a cameo guest spot by former N’Sync member Joey Fatone, and audiences will see just how important the work of The Opposite Sex’s cast was to the movie’s enjoyment and success. On a side note, Fatone’s blooper with Stults and Hopkins in the movie’s end credits makes for just as many laughs. Getting back to the movie’s main factors, the acting on the part of its cast does plenty to make it enjoyable, as audiences will see when they watch it for themselves. Its run time and pacing play their own pivotal role in the movie’s success, too. They come together to solidify it and show once and for all why it is just as entertaining as any of its bigger-name counterparts.

The scripting and acting that went into The Opposite Sex offers audiences more than its collective share of laughs. Even being an independent release, its script and the work of its cast make it just as entertaining as its more well-known counterparts. While both the script and the acting are key to that level of success, the movie’s pacing and companion run time play just as much of a role in its enjoyment. At no one point does The Opposite Sex ever lose audiences either in terms of its script or its cast’s acting. It never moves too fast or too slow, thus allowing audiences to enjoy every quip and every joke surrounding the never-ending battle of the sexes. It’s all done over the course of about ninety minutes. That perhaps is the most intriguing factor of all in the movie’s success. Not counting its end credits, it comes in right at about ninety minutes. That is roughly par for course in terms of run times for the rom-coms churned out by Hollywood’s Power Five studios. The combination of that standard run time and solid pacing completes The Opposite Sex, proving once more why this movie is just as enjoyable as any more well-known rom-com past or present. It shows once more that indie flicks can and are just as worth the watch as anything that Hollywood’s major studios can churn out and have, too. Keeping that in mind, The Opposite Sex proves that despite a familiar formula, the movie’s script, its cast’s acting and its collective pacing and run time make it one of this year’s best independent movies and one of the best movies of 2014.

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