Monday, November 10, 2014

Planes: Fire and Rescue to the....RESCUE!!

by Al Kessel

Well...yet another sequel. Seems as if that's a given these days. If a movie does semi well, it's pretty much guaranteed that they WILL make a sequel, which, unfortunately, typically turns out to be leagues short of the original. Luckily for us, Disney Planes * Fire & Rescue isn't a typical sequel!! This one ROCKED!

I must admit, when we first heard about the sequel to Disney Planes, both Joyce and I were...skeptical. They actually announced it right away, during D23 if I'm not mistaken. I thought, wow, how about letting us figure out if Planes is any good before you go making a follow up. But, yep...I was pleasantly surprised. I think that Fire & Rescue is every bit as good as Planes, and to be honest, if this were the first movie put out, I feel it would have been equally as successful as the first. It's THAT good. 

This outing starts after Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) has successfully defended his crown of air race champ. Seems Dusty has pushed himself a bit too hard and has to back it off a tad, or else.....well, we don't even want to THINK of that!! So, while trying to prove to himself that he's still got it, certain mishaps...well, happen that set up the Fire & Rescue storyline. Now, Dusty finds himself learning to be one of the elite fire and rescue members, and some pretty funny stuff crops up (yep, pun intended). In a plot that is similar to the original, Planes Fire & Rescue introduces us to a new set of characters that are just as endearing and heroic as the originals. 

“PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE” is fueled by a star-studded voice cast that includes Dane Cook (“Planes”) as Dusty, Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”) as Dipper, Ed Harris (“Gravity” and "Apollo 13") as Blade Ranger, Captain Dale Dye (“Saving Private Ryan”) as Cabbie, Cedric the Entertainer (“Ice Age”) as Leadbottom, Erik Estrada (“CHiPs”) as Nick “Loopin” Lopez, Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) as Chug,     Teri Hatcher (“Desperate Housewives”) as Dottie, John Michael Higgins (“Pitch Perfect”) as Cad, Hal Holbrook (“Into the Wild”) as Mayday, Stacy Keach (“Planes”) as Skipper, Regina King (“Ray”) as Dynamite, Anne Meara (“Night at the Museum) as Winnie, Jerry Stiller (“The King of Queens”) as Harvey and Wes Studi (“Avatar”) as Windlifter. 
Disney's Shout-Out to CHiPs!!

And what Disney movie on Blu Ray/DVD would be complete without a plethora of bonus features?

Blu-Ray Combo Pack, Digital HD/SD & Disney Movies Anywhere:

  • Exclusive Animated Short - "Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular"
  • "Welcome to Piston Peak!" - This mock-umentary promotional piece shows off all the highlights of the acclaimed Piston Peak National Park and it's aerial firefighting team
  • "CHoPs" TV Promo - An in-world TV promo (you've got to see the movie to understand this. It's AWESOME)
  • Air Attack: Firefighters From The Sky - This high-energy, music-driven behind-the-scenes piece takes an inside look at the real smoke jumpers and firefighters who attack wildfires from the air as Director Roberts Gannaway and Producer Ferrell Barron take us through their journey in making the film
  • Spencer Lee Music Video - Still I Fly
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Animated Shorts - 
    • Dipper
    • Smokejumpers
  • On the DVD:
    • Spencer Lee Music Video Still I Fly
  • Exclusive DMA Discover Content
    • Animated Shorts:
      • Blade Ranger
      • Piston Peak
Planes-Fire & Rescue

So, yes, if you insist on a rating system, let's say....1 to 5 Pistons, with 1 being stay away and 4 being "GO GET YOUR COPY TODAY!". Joyce and I both give Disney Planes * Fire & Rescue a 5! Honestly, this is one of the best animated movies we've seen in awhile. There are plenty of great things about this movie, and I'm sure a LOT that you'll pick out that we didn't notice. There's humor for all ages as well. And some nods to previous Disney project (see how many you can spot). 

10 Things You Never Knew about Planes: Fire & Rescue:


“We love to hide fun numbers in the animation,” reveals Planes: Fire & Rescue art director Toby Wilson. “The ‘301’ you see on the side of Blade is actually the number from the CalFire’s air-attack helicopter at Hemet-Ryan air base. We used that as a thank you because we spent so much time there researching the movie. Watch out for national identification numbers on the planes and helicopters, too. They often hide things like birthdays or special dates for the filmmakers. The birthday of Bobs Gannaway, our director, is one of the national identification numbers in the movie!” 

“In the movie, there’s a scene where a new character named Blade takes Dusty Crophopper into a mine to protect him from a fire,” explains Planes: Fire & Rescue director Bobs Gannaway. “Well, that sequence is based on a true story. A firefighter named Pulaski saved his crew by taking them into a mine in Idaho during 1910’s Great Idaho Fire. In honor of the famous firefighter, we named our yellow fire truck in the movie Pulaski. It’s an absolute honor to have him represented in the film.” 

“We wanted to take audiences somewhere they’ve never been before,” reveals Bobs Gannaway. “The film has a little bit of Americana woven into a mash-up of Yellowstone, Yosemite and a few other national parks – all with our own distinctive spin.” Keep your eyes peeled when the action of the movie heads to the Grand Fusel Lodge of Piston Peak. The quirky building was directly inspired by Yellowstone’s iconic Old Faithful Inn!

“I have no idea how I ended up in an amazing Disney animation like this,” giggles actress Julie Bowen. “Out of the blue, I got a call from Disney offering me the role – but I’ve since discovered that John Lasseter [the head of Walt Disney Animation Studios] is a huge fan of my show, Modern Family. When they offered me the role of Dipper in Planes: Fire & Rescue, the first Planes movie hadn’t been released – but I knew I was in safe hands. My kids love the fact that I’m in a Planes movie. This whole experience has been an absolute blast!” 

A lot of time and effort goes into the creation of an epic animation like Planes: Fire & Rescue. “In total, a team of 900 people spent four years creating the ambitious animated movie,” admits producer Ferrell Barron. “That includes everyone from animators and voice artists to writers and musicians.” 

Most of the high-flying vehicles in the movie are fictional, but their design is usually inspired by real aircraft. The look of Dusty Crophopper was inspired by three planes: the Air Tractor 502, the Cessna and the Air Dromader. The design of Windlifter was inspired by three helicopters: the Sikorsky Skycrane, the Kamov KA-26 and the Mil MI-10. Many of the land-based vehicles are also based on real automobiles. The design of Mayday – Propwash Junction’s feisty fire truck – was based on the 1940s Fordson Tender.

“I had a lot of fun in the recording booth,” admits Julie Bowen. “You have to repeat the same lines a million times, but it never gets boring. The director and his team sit behind a big glass window. They have to press a button for me to hear what they are saying, but I’d always see them chatting away whenever their fingers left the button. It made me panic. I’d think, ‘Oh no! Am I doing this wrong?’ Eventually, I asked them to keep their finger on the button so that I could hear everything. That’s when I discovered they were talking about the most boring things in the world! They would turn to each other and say things like, “Um… Did anybody change the toner in the fax machine?” They weren’t talking about me at all!”

Blade Ranger and Windlifter are two exciting new helicopter characters in the movie. In order to research how they fly, the filmmakers turned to a world-renowned aerobatic helicopter pilot named Chuck Aaron. Aaron has more than 42 years and 20,000 flight hours under his belt! “They asked me if I would watch the movie and look at the storyboards to determine if the helicopter movements were factual and feasible,” says Aaron. “It brings authenticity and realism to the movie.”

“Maru is the name of the friendly mechanic tug at Piston Peak Air Attack base, but his history dates back to the first movie,” explains Toby Wilson. “On one of the research trips for the first movie, the team went to Wisconsin where they met a mechanic with one hand. Outside his garage, it said ‘Maru’s Garage’ written in big letters. Our creative executive, Paul Gerard, went inside and asked him, ‘So, where’s Maru?’ The mechanic replied, ‘The name’s Marv!’ It turns out he had really bad handwriting on his sign. Marv is the real-life inspiration behind Maru in the movie.” 

“I’ve always been a fan of all Disney movies when I was growing up, especially the musicals,” admits Dane Cook. “I used to love Bedknobs And Broomsticks, which was live action and animation combined. I just loved it, and I always wanted to be a part of it. I’d love to see a Planes musical. After Frozen was released, I said to everyone, ‘We need music in Planes.’ Maybe next time?” 

One of the many difficult tasks that the filmmakers tackled was the creation of Piston Peak National Park. “It was a huge challenge for the art team,” explains Bobs Gannaway. “And more than 2 million trees were incorporated into its design.” The animation team ensured that just the right trees were incorporated into the scenery – including lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, incense cedar, red woods and giant sequoia!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Disney's 101 Dalmatians!!

This Valentine’s Day, Share the Humor, Suspense and Adventures With Your Family!


Available for the First Time on Digital HD, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, Disney Movies Anywhere and On-Demand – February 10th

From the studio that brought you Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book and other timeless animated classics comes Disney's 101 Dalmatians on Blu-ray™, Digital HD, Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and On-Demand February 10th! Exciting bonus features include a never-before-seen animated short, bonus clips and more!

Stay connected with the latest news and information about ”101 Dalmatians”:
· “Like” us on Facebook:
·  Check out our Website and Mobile Site: 

·  Visit and download the DMA App at:

Featuring All-New, Never-Before-Seen Animated Short! 

Pick your favorite spot to watch—anytime and anywhere—and get ready for a fun-filled adventure with the Diamond Edition of 101 Dalmatians! Pongo, Perdita and their super-adorable puppies are in for thrills, hilarious spills and an epic action-packed adventure when they face off with Cruella De Vil, Disney’s most fabulously outrageous villainess. When Cruella dognaps all of the Dalmatian puppies in London, brave animal heroes launch a daring plan to save all puppies from Cruella’s clutches! Unleash all the excitement and suspense of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians, a beloved classic you’ll want to share with your family again and again! 

Cast: Rod Taylor (Inglorious Bastards, The Birds) as Pongo, J. Pat O’Malley (The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland) as Jasper and Betty Lou Gerson (The Fly, Cats Don’t Dance) as Cruella de Vil

Release Date: February 10, 2015 (Direct Prebook: 12/16; Distributor Prebook: 12/30)
New Bonus Features:
* All New Short – The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt
* Walt Disney Presents “The Best Doggoned Dog in the World” (1961 Version)
* Lucky Dogs
* DisneyView
* Dalmatians 101: Hosted by Cameron Boyce 
* Plus a Selection of Classic Bonus Features

Feature Run Time:  Approximately 79 Minutes

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series!

by Al Kessel

Meka Leka Hi Meka Hiney Ho!!
Ok, so I admit it. I'm a kid at heart. And yes...some would say at mind as well! But, I like Pee-wee Herman. I may not have been a CHILD when Pee-wee's Playhouse debuted in 1986, but I still watched it every Saturday morning. And LOVED it! I mean, what's not to love? Fun, lovable and at most times silly characters; cartoons; interesting plot situations; talking fish; talking chairs; talking windows; talking...well, you get the picture. 

Pee-wee and Miss Yvonne

I've got to say, when we were asked to review Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series (actually, we only got seasons 1 and 2 so far), I JUMPED at the chance! Like I said earlier, I loved Pee-wee's Playhouse when it first ran on CBS (1986-1990), and was curious if I'd still feel the same way now that I'm (gulp) 50! I do. Yep. I most certainly do. Well, actually, that's not accurate. Add a great deal of nostalgia to that love. Our lives are in such a rush these days, so many frustrations, so many tragedies, so many sad things, that a show like this, even for just 23-25 minutes, helps you forget and just brings some silly joy in to your day! you can enjoy this fun series in high-def! Whether reliving childhood memories or introducing this beloved series to a new generation, the newly re-mastered Pee-wee’s Playhouse will take you back to being a kid. Now you can actually SEE all the awesome details in the Playhouse like never before. Winner of an amazing 22 Emmy® Awards, Pee-wee’s Playhouse is a cultural touchstone for a generation, and its visually dynamic design and offbeat sense of humor were a genuine phenomenon.  And if THAT'S not enough, TV Guide actually named Pee-wee's Playhouse #10 on their list of the Top 25 Cult Television Shows....EVER! EVER!!!

No matter what reason you watch/watched it, Pee-wee's Playhouse really is an educational, artistic and very entertaining show that teaches kids strong life lessons. With it's innovative production design and Paul Ruben's (Pee-wee Herman) rich original characters and humor, Pee-wee's Playhouse is a magical place that sparks creativity an imagination. 

And, like many kids shows, Pee-wee's Playhouse launched a LOT of stars:

  • Phil Hartman (Captain Carl) 
  • S. Epatha Merkerson (Reba The Mail Lady)
  • Natasha Lyonne (Opal) - LONG before her gig on Orange Is The New Black!
  • Jimmy Smits (Conky's Repairman)
  • Sandra Bernhard (Rhonda the Picturephone Operator)
  • Bernard Fox - Col. Crittendon from Hogan's Heroes (Dr. Jinga Janga)
  • And.....Laurence Fishburne - Morpheus HIMSELF (Cowboy Curtis With The Jheri Curl Mullet!)

OH MY! It's Morpheus!! Laurence Fishburne

Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series Blu-ray box set contains OVER 4 HOURS of brand-new interviews with the cast and crew, plus never-seen, behind-the-scenes footage—all part of TEN FEATURETTES, including: 

  • Building the Playhouse
  • Opening the Playhouse
  • Writing for the Playhouse
  • The Look of the Playhouse 
  • Music of the Playhouse
  • The Cast of the Playhouse
  • Puppets of the Playhouse
  • Animating the Playhouse
  • A Very Merry Christmas Special
  • Fans and Memorabilia of the Playhouse
These featurettes include interviews with actors Laurence Fishburne (Cowboy Curtis), S. Epatha Merkerson (Reba the mail lady), Lynne Marie Stewart (Miss Yvonne) and John Paragon (Jambi the genie). Mark Mothersbaugh and Danny Elfman explain the music of the show and the Emmy® award-winning production design team of Gary Panter, Wayne White and Ric Heitzman explain how the sets and puppets were imagined and produced. Animation Supervisor of all 5 seasons of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Prudence Fenton (Liquid Television) talks about all the types of animation used in the program and animators Peter Lord and David Sproxton (Wallace & Gromit) discuss their contributions. Ve Neill, the multi-Oscar® winning make-up artist talks about designing the make-up ‘looks’. Two of the shows writers talk about how the scripts were created. Other cast and crew explain, in fascinating detail, stories from the production of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. If that weren’t enough, many of the shows puppeteers and voice artists are interviewed about how the puppet characters were brought to life. 
You know what to do when the Secret Word is said!!
So, yeah. I'm a fan of Pee-wee's Playhouse. I seriously watch an episode every day. Before I get started with my work day, I spend 23-25 minutes with the gang at the Playhouse, put a HUGE smile on my face and laugh along with the jokes, corny as they may be. If you're a collector of cult shows, or, just like to enjoy honest to goodness fun, get your own copy of this all time classic - today. Now. Hurry. And, don't forget to YELL when the Word Of The Day is said!! Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray Box Sets. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy...On The WAY!


Coming to save YOUR galaxy (or...your living room TV...whatever...) SOON! Well...sort of. 

From Marvel, the studio that launched the epic franchises of “Iron Man,” “Thor,” “Captain America” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” comes an unlikely new team—the “Guardians of the Galaxy.”  The Marvel Cinematic Universe expands into the cosmos when brash space adventurer Peter Quill steals a coveted orb and becomes the object of a relentless bounty hunt. To evade his enemies, Quill forges an uneasy truce with Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon; Groot, a tree-like humanoid; the deadly assassin Gamora; and the revenge-driven Drax. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb, he must rally his ragtag band of misfits for a desperate battle that will decide the fate of the galaxy. Featuring amazing new characters and exclusive bonus features, this must-own blockbuster will have you hooked on a feeling… of pure adrenaline!

Starring Chris Pratt (“The Lego Movie,” TV’s “Parks and Recreation”) as Peter Quill, Zoe Saldana (“Avatar,” “Star Trek”) as Gamora, Dave Bautista (“Riddick,” “The Man with the Iron Fists”) as Drax, Vin Diesel (“Fast and the Furious” series, “Riddick”) as Groot, Bradley Cooper (“American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) as Rocket, Lee Pace (“The Hobbit” series, “Lincoln”) as Ronan, Michael Rooker (TV’s “The Walking Dead”) as Yondu Udonta, Karen Gillan (“Oculus,” TV’s “Doctor Who”) as Nebula, Djimon Hounsou (“How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Gladiator”) as Korath, John C. Reilly (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”) as Corpsman Dey, Glenn Close (TV’s “Damages,” “Tarzan”) as Nova Prime and Benicio Del Toro (“Traffic,” “The Usual Suspects”) as The Collector, and Directed and written by James Gunn (Dawn of the Dead, Scooby Doo). 

Bonus Features: 

  • Never before seen deleted scenes
  • Making of Featurettes
  • Exclusive look at "Marvels The Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Gag Reel (YAH!!!)
  • Audio commentary
Running time 121 minutes, rated PG-13. Marvels Guardians Of The Galaxy will be available November 18, 2014 for Digital 3D and Digital HD downloads, and December 9, 2014 for 3D Blu-Ray Combo Pack (3D Blu-Ray+Single Disc Blu-Ray+Digital Copy), Blu-Ray, DVD and On-Demand!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Planes: Fire & Rescue On The WAY!!

Ok, now that you're paying attention, guess what? Remember that awesome DisneyToon Studios movie last year, Planes? Yeah, you know, about Dusty Crophopper's adventures in the Wings Across The Globe race? Sure you do! In fact, we reviewed it!! Well, anyway, you may have heard, Disney's done it again! They brought back all of our favorite planes and added a few more, AND, launched Dusty on a new, and even more dangerous adventure!

Disney’s Planes are back in the high-flying comedy adventure “PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE,” landing on Disney Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD, Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and On-Demand platforms Nov. 4, 2014. In this heart-pumping, laugh-filled follow-up to last year’s smash hit “PLANES,” world famous racer Dusty Crophopper joins an elite fire and rescue unit and learns what it takes to be a true hero. Featuring non-stop action, memorable characters and never-before-seen bonus features, “PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE” is this fall’s must-own animated family film! 

After flying to the top of the box office this summer as the #1 animated movie in America three weeks in a row, “PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE” soars to spectacular new heights on Blu-ray and Digital HD, featuring wondrous high definition picture and sound, plus thrilling bonus features, including the all-new exclusive short “Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular;” the mock-umentary promotional piece "Welcome to Piston Peak;” “CHoPs” TV Promo and “Air Attack:  Firefighters From The Sky,” an exciting inside look at the making of the film featuring real-life smoke jumpers and firefighters. Additional bonus features include Spencer Lee’s "Still I Fly" music video, deleted scenes with filmmaker introductions, and two “PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE” shorts: “Dipper” and “Smokejumpers.” Exclusively available on Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) are the bonus shorts “Blade Ranger” and “Piston Peak.” 

“PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE” is fueled by a star-studded voice cast that includes Dane Cook (“Planes”) as Dusty, Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”) as Dipper, Ed Harris (“Gravity”) as Blade Ranger, Captain Dale Dye (“Saving Private Ryan”) as Cabbie, Cedric the Entertainer (“Ice Age”) as Leadbottom,           Erik Estrada (“CHiPs”) as Nick “Loopin” Lopez, Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) as Chug,     Teri Hatcher (“Desperate Housewives”) as Dottie, John Michael Higgins (“Pitch Perfect”) as Cad,  Hal Holbrook (“Into the Wild”) as Mayday, Stacy Keach (“Planes”) as Skipper, Regina King (“Ray”) as Dynamite, Anne Meara (“Night at the Museum) as Winnie, Jerry Stiller (“The King of Queens”) as 

Harvey and Wes Studi (“Avatar”) as Windlifter. It was directed by Roberts Gannaway (“Secret of the Wings”) and produced by Ferrell Barron (“The Fox and the Hound 2”).

Bonus Features:
Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD/SD & Disney Movies Anywhere
Exclusive Animated Short - “Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular” 
"Welcome to Piston Peak! - This mock-umentary promotional piece shows off all the highlights of the acclaimed Piston Peak National Park and its aerial firefighting team.
"CHoPs” TV Promo - An in-world TV promo with announce.
Air Attack:  Firefighters From The Sky - This high-energy, music-driven behind-the-scenes piece takes an inside look at the real smoke jumpers and firefighters who attack wildfires from the air as Director Roberts Gannaway and Producer Ferrell Barron take us through their journey in making the film.
Spencer Lee Music Video "Still I Fly"
Deleted Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions:
o “Honkers”
o “Dusty's Dream No More”
Animated Shorts:
o “Dipper”
o “Smokejumpers”

*Digital bonus offerings will vary per retailer

Spencer Lee Music Video "Still I Fly"

Exclusive DMA Discover Content:
Animated Shorts:
o “Blade Ranger” 

o “Piston Peak” 

I don't know about YOU, but WE'RE eagerly awaiting the release of this awesome new addition to the Must Have Disney Movie collection!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Toy Story of TERROR!!!!

Review by Joyce Kessel

Just in time for Halloween, Disney/Pixar reunites Woody, Buzz, and all our Toy Story friends, but this time, their adventure is fun with a side of fright.  Toy Story of Terror! was released on BluRay+ Digital Copy, DVD, DisneyMoviesAnywhere and Digital HD on August 19th. 

The movie starts with the friends embarking on a road trip with Bonnie and family. While watching a horror movie to pass the time, the car gets a flat tire, so, they stop at a road side hotel.  Forced to spend the night, Woody advises his friends not to leave the suitcase because they might get lost.  But of course, Mr. Potato Head wanders off and they fear he is lost.  
Watching a horror movie

The gang meets a new friend, 'Combat Carl', who helps the crew survive their own horror story (that's all you're getting. Remember, NO SPOILERS HERE!).  This made for TV adventure is just shy of 22 minutes and is a must-see.  Even though it's 'for kids', Al and I LOVE this and will be making it one of our Halloween traditions! 
Combat Carl

The Blu-ray is loaded with never-before-seen bonus features, including three Vintage Toy Commercials, which can be viewed as act breaks during the film or separately with Director Introductions.  The Blu-Ray also includes additional special features shorts: “Small Fry”, “Partysaurus Rex” and “Hawaiian Vacation”.    

“Toy Story OF TERROR!” features the voice talents of original “Toy Story” cast members Tom Hanks as “Woody,” Tim Allen as “Buzz Lightyear,” Joan Cusack as “Jessie,” Timothy Dalton as “Mr. Pricklepants,” Don Rickles as “Mr. Potato Head,” Kristen Schaal as “Trixie” and Wallace Shawn as “Rex,” along with series newcomer Carl Weathers as “Combat Carl/Combat Carl Jr.” 

Written and directed by Angus MacLane, animator on such Disney•Pixar classics as “Finding Nemo,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Toy Story 2 & 3” and produced by Galyn Susman, “Toy Story OF TERROR!” features an original score by composer Michael Giacchino (“Ratatouille,” “Up,” “Cars 2”).

(Video Copyright Pixar)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Muppets: Most Wanted?

Review by Al Kessel

It's time to start the's time to light the lights....yeah, yeah. I'm sure you all know the song! I remember watching the Muppet Show when I was...younger. In fact, I remember watching Kermit and a few others on Sesame Street, back in the days before YouTube, iPads, iPhones and even...the Disney Channel! I used to love the Muppets. I really did. So, when Disney made a NEW Muppet Movie in 2011, I was kind of geeked out about it. And you know what? It wasn't too bad. Aside from all the songs, I enjoyed the plot and everything. Then...I heard they were making ANOTHER new Muppet movie, called Muppets Most Wanted. I was, intrigued by the title and the plot. Then...I watched it. And things kind of went sour for me.
Ricky Gervais and Kermit

Ok, before I go much farther, let me say that I really do like the Muppets. And Muppets Most Wanted is an OK film, just not...great. At least in my opinion. To me, it seemed they kind of just phoned it in, relying on a plethora of cameos (by some pretty notable stars), too many musical numbers and not so subtle product endorsements. Seriously, a half concealed Target bullseye, and even Subway (yes, Fozzie Bear was eating a Subway sandwich...). And, this movie seemed awfully familiar - another Muppets sequel called...The Great Muppet Caper. 

All that aside, the story is kind of fun. Muppets Most Wanted starts right after the closing song from the 2011 movie. And I mean RIGHT after...we hear the last note from the song! After all the extras leave, our heroes are trying to decide what to do next. A sequel perhaps??? And from there, one of the villains of the movie, Dominic Badguy (pronounced, Bad-GEI - it's French), talks the Muppets in to launching a world tour. Little to they know though, Dominic is in league with the super-villian and criminal master mind, Constantine, who just busted out of a Russian Gulag. See, Constantine bears an uncanny resemblance to...(duhn, duhn dah!!!) KERMIT THE FROG! So, as the beloved Muppets arrive in Berlin, Germany (of all places), Constantine slaps a mole on Kermit to make him look like the evil frog, then takes his place with the group. And, a plot unfolds...(no spoilers, sorry).
Tina Fey and Kermit

Muppets Most Wanted is chock full of musical numbers that I'm sure are kind of fun for a lot of fans. I just felt there were far too many and in the oddest places. No fun, heartwarming numbers like Kermit's The Rainbow Connection, from the original Muppet Movie from 1979, but, a few toe tapping numbers. 

It was wise to cast Ricky Gervais (The Office, Extras, Night At The Museum) as Dominic Badguy. Gervais plays the role perfectly and adds that great deadpan comedy essential to keep this movie from sinking entirely. And, with Tina Fey as the Russian Gulag commander obsessed with Kermit, Muppets Most Wanted isn't completely lost. 

Ty Burrell (Modern Family) plays opposite Sam Eagle (who's a CIA agent) as the bumbling, inept Inspector Clouseau inspired French Interpol agent tasked with finding the criminal mastermind Constantine and the ever elusive Lemur (a 'cat burglar' stealing high value items throughout Europe). Although I do like Burrell, you kind of want to poke his over the top character in the eye a bit! 
Inspector mean, Jean Pierre Napoleon

There are a lot of cameos in Muppets Most Wanted, as is typical in a Muppets movie. Only problem is, you have to look really fast to catch most of them. Like, X-Men's James McAvoy as the UPS delivery man, or Miranda Richardson as Berlin woman in window! Of course, some aren't so covert, like Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo as the musically inclined Gulag prisoners. Oh, and see if you can recognize the voice Tina Fey has locked away in 'the box'. 

Most of the humor is ok for younger viewers, but, there are a few bits that are targeted at the more...grownup fans. For example, there's a silly scene between Dominic and Constantine in a me, you'll have to watch it to appreciate it!

Muppets Most Wanted has some fun bonus features for your enjoyment. In fact, I quite enjoyed the blooper reel. Probably the most fun I had watching this movie! Seriously though, if you've never heard Ricky Gervais laugh, watch the bloopers! I guarantee you'll laugh out loud...OUT LOUD!! 
Kermit and Constantine, or...Constantine and Kermit??

Bonus Features include:

  • The Statler and Waldorf Cut (perhaps the best cut)
  • The Longer Longest Blooper Reel in Muppets History
  • Rizzo's Biggest Fan
  • "I'll Get You What You Want" Music Video Performed by Bret McKenzie
Muppets Most Wanted is now available. 

All in all, Muppets Most Wanted was a bit disappointing to me (and Joyce), but maybe because I'm stacking it up against the original Muppets. Muppets Most Wanted isn't a HORRIBLE movie, it's certainly worth having. The younglings will most likely love it. But on a scale of 1-10, I'd have to give it a 4...because after all, I DO love the Muppets. Even in a not so great movie! - Al

(Some awesome Gervais bloopers)

(Waldorf and Statler's Cut)

Disneynature Bears

by Al Kessel

One of Walt Disney's passions was nature, and his True-Life Adventures movies. Documenting, and creating inspiring and emotive stories based on the subjects, Disney brought everything from seals, to lions, to water birds and more to audiences who would otherwise never had witnessed such marvels of nature. Aside from the family fun antics Walt presented, he also gave us something more valuable than a lot of people realized: EDUCATION. Through these films, Walt Disney introduced the important concepts of conservation and living WITH nature, in a way only Walt could have.

That tradition continues today through The Walt Disney Studio's Disneynature series. Most recently, Disneynature Bears

Filmed in the Kitmai National Park in Alaska, Bears follows a family of Brown Bears (otherwise known as Grizzly Bears) as momma bear Sky struggles to keep her two new cubs Amber (the 'stick to momma's side daughter) and Scout (the 'hey, what's that do?' get in to trouble son). As is usual in a Disney nature type movie, film crews followed around this trio of Grizzlies and told their 'story' in dramatic and exciting ways. 

The movie starts in Sky's den, where she's nursing her two very young cubs. Winter is over, and now Sky must take her cubs from the mountain peak where they hibernated for the winter, all the way down to the coast and lowlands so they can feed and store up enough fat for the next winter. Along the way, Sky teaches her younglings how to survive, hunt and protect themselves from danger. They encounter a VERY dominant male Grizzly by the name of Magnus, an outcast (and kind of grumpy) male by the name of Chinook (who tries to EAT our little baby cubs!!), a hungry gray wolf named Tikaani (who also tries to eat our little baby cubs!) and a host of others. Guided by a mysterious raven, Sky leads her little ones on a quest to find enough salmon to get them through another winter. 

Narrated by John C. Reilly (Wreck-It-Ralph, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step-Brothers and more), Disneynature Bears is exactly what you'd expect from a feel-good Disney movie. Full of excitement, drama, action, and yes, even ROMANCE! Reilly does a great job of voicing this movie as well. He brings just enough wit and balances it with just enough seriousness, that it really does add something great to the movie. 

Disneynature Bears also has a host of great Bonus Material as well:
(Available on Blu-Ray, Digital HD & DMA)

  • Welcome To Alaska - Journey with the filmmakers into the Alaskan wilds to film Sky and her cubs. 
  • The Future For The Bears - Experience the thrill of living with the bears during production, and the importance of protecting the wilderness to ensure their survival...and our own!
  • A Guide To Living With Bears - Learn how the team interacts safely with these magnificent creatures
  • How Did They Film That? - Get an inside look on some of the extreme filmmaking that went into getting shots high in the mountains and under frigid cold water
  • "Carry On" Music Video by Olivia Holt
(Available on DVD)
  • "Carry On" Music Video by Olivia Holt sum it all up, I LOVE nature films. Always have. But, there's something very special for me in any nature film Disney creates. Probably because I remember watching all of the Disney nature shows as a kid. And because I just love the....well, LOVE Walt Disney and the Disney company has always had for nature. It's heartwarming to see a company as huge as Disney actually put so much effort and care into educating people and getting so many to join in the fight to protect our planet. Joyce and I both loves Disneynature Bears. On a scale of rates an 11 from both of us (cuz, you know, 11 is better.) - Al 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Maleficent Is On Her Way!

Disney's GREATEST Villain Comes To Life
In The Wickedly Fun, Fantasy Adventure Starring Academy
Award Winner Angelina Jolie


Disney’s most iconic villain “MALEFICENT” comes to life for all to own, November 4, 2014.  Starring Academy Award®-winning actress Angelina Jolie (Best Supporting Actress, “Girl, Interrupted,” 2000) as Maleficent, this wickedly fun twist on the classic “Sleeping Beauty” will be made available on Disney Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, Digital HD, Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and On-Demand platforms. 

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent

After enchanting audiences around the world and grossing more than $700 million in worldwide box office, this live-action, fantasy adventure casts a wondrous new spell on Blu-ray and Digital HD, featuring stunning high definition picture and sound, plus spellbinding, all-new bonus features, including several deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes that take viewers deeper behind the scenes of the filmmaking magic.

Join the cast and crew as they explore how Disney’s animated classic “Sleeping Beauty” was re-imagined as an innovative, live-action epic in “From Fairy Tale to Feature Film.”   Discover how King Henry and Maleficent's opening battle scene was created using gigantic wire rigs and elaborate choreography in “Building an Epic Battle.”  Learn how playing Aurora was a fairytale come true for actress Elle Fanning in “Aurora: Becoming A Beauty.” And find out more about the meticulous detail that went into creating Maleficent's elaborate head wraps, rings and other accessories in “Classic Couture.”  Viewers can also relive the film’s journey to the screen through concept art, layered visual effects and behind the scenes footage in “Maleficent Revealed.”
Sharlto Copley as King Stefan

“Maleficent” stars Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning (“Super 8,” “We Bought a Zoo”), Sharlto Copley (“District 9,” “Elysium”), Sam Riley (“Control,” “On the Road”), Imelda Staunton (“Harry Potter” series), Lesley Manville (“Another Year,” “Secrets & Lies”), Juno Temple (“The Dark Knight Rises,” “Atonement”) and Brenton Thwaites (“Oculus”). It marks the directorial debut of two-time Academy Award® winner Robert Stromberg (Best Achievement in Art Direction, “Avatar,” 2010; Best Achievement in Art Direction, “Alice in Wonderland,” 2011). It was written by Linda Woolverton (“Alice in Wonderland,” “The Lion King”) and produced by Joe Roth (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Oz the Great and Powerful”).
Elle Fanning as Aurora

Bonus Features:
Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD/SD & Disney Movies Anywhere
From Fairy Tale to Feature Film - Reimagining Maleficent for a new generation
Building An Epic Battle –Creating the clash between Maleficent and King Henry’s Forces
Classic Couture - Examine Maleficent’s spellbinding head wraps and jewelry.
Maleficent Revealed - Explore the layers of extraordinary special effects.
Aurora: Becoming A Beauty - Elle Fanning reveals her lifelong love of Disney’s original animated classic.
Deleted Scenes:
o “Stefan In King's Chamber”
o “Pixie Idiots” 
o “Diaval asks about the Curse”
o “Pixies Seek Asylum”
o “Suitor”
And More!

*Digital bonus offerings will vary per retailer

Aurora: Becoming A Beauty

Disc Specifications:
Feature Run Time: Approximately 97 minutes
Rating: Feature Film: “PG” in U.S. and Canada (CE); G in Canada (CF) 
Additional Bonus Features Not Rated
Aspect Ratio: Blu-ray Feature Film = 1080p High Definition/2.40:1
DVD= Widescreen 2.40:1 / Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Audio:                                   Blu-ray Feature Film = 7.1, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD=English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio
Languages/Subtitles: English, Spanish & French
English Captions for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tater Travel Tips!

by Joyce Kessel
What better time to create life long family memories than Summer break!!   It can be challenging to prepare for the trip, but Mrs. Potato Head shared all her secrets with us!

Now, Mrs. Potato Head has some challenges when it comes to the Potato Head family get-aways but she doesn’t let that stop her.  Ready, set, GO!!

Mr. Potato Head can be a klutz when it comes to packing, which is why Mrs. Potato Head loves to make a list of packing essentials for their vacation needs. It’s a good idea for the sweet potato to start planning her list weeks before the traveling ‘taters head off on their journey. By planning so far in advance, you are much less likely to miss off any travel necessities!

Who wants to iron an outfit when you reach your destination? Mr. Potato Head doesn't, that’s for sure! Instead of folding your clothes and placing them in your suitcase, try rolling them. Tightly rolled clothes are less likely to get heavy wrinkles from fold creases and they take up less room.

Nobody wants to be weighed down with heavy baggage, especially if you’re a tourist ‘tater who wants to wander around with ease. That’s exactly why Mrs. Potato Head suggests everybody packs lightly. Pack layers of clothing that you can easily put on or take off. And think twice about adding that spare pair of shoes to your luggage. Do you really need them?

Mrs. Potato Head is a stickler for the rules. Get to know them all before you travel, especially if you’re flying! If your journey involves an airplane ride, make sure you pack correctly and don’t place any large liquids (such as a regular-sized bottle of perfume or a can of hairspray) in your carry-on luggage. All liquids brought onto planes must be in 3.4-ounce bottles or smaller. And they must all be placed inside a single, clear, quart-size zip-top bag.

What would Mr. Potato Head do without his trusty bowler hat and his angry eyes? Well, every now and then luggage gets delayed or lost – and that’s exactly why it’s a good idea to pack your travel essentials and valuables in your carry-on bag. Never put them in your checked luggage! Make sure your ID, passport, keys, money, credit cards, jewelry and electronics are safe and secure in your carry-on bag, as well as items like extra contact lenses and a spare pair of undies. Happy traveling!


Mrs. Potato Head says: “I’m packing your extra pair of shoes!” 
Don’t be a couch potato on your summer vacation; head outside and explore. When you’re packing your bags, make sure you’ve got comfortable shoes in your luggage. Nobody wants sore tootsies!  

“And your angry eyes, just in case!”  

Who wants to get angry-eyed in the blazing sunshine? Nobody! That’s why it’s important to pack your sunglasses. If your eyes need some extra help, don’t forget to take your spectacles and contact lenses, too.

“A dime!”
A few dollars will certainly help ease your summer vacation needs. It also helps to have a credit card for any unexpected incidentals, as well as the purchase of the odd souvenir or two. See if you can seek out a bargain!

“Cheese puffs!”
Don’t forget to pack some snacks for the journey. If you’re a picky eater, it might be wise to add a few of your favorite munchies to your suitcase to ensure you’ve got lots of treats to eat while you’re away, too. Mmmm!

“A spare set of lips!”
Mr. Potato Head can swap his lips with a spare set if they become chapped or sore in the sizzling sunshine. Non-spuds can’t do that, which is why it’s a good idea to pack some lip balm for your travels. Pucker up!

“A key!”
It’s always a good idea to keep all your essentials together in one place, including your keys, money, ID and passport. Be a safe spud on your travels; don’t be a loser this summer!

Never forget to apply sunscreen in the scorching summer sun… Or, you’ll end up baked!

Now Walt knew how to pack!