Keith Coogan reflects on his film “Adventures in Babysitting”

You may recognize Keith Coogan from his work in such popular films as “Adventures in Babysitting,” “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” and “Toy Soldiers.” Or you may remember him from his recurring role on “The Waltons,” where he was billed as Keith Mitchell. Coogan used his mother’s maiden name until the passing of his grandfather, Jackie Coogan. Jackie Coogan was the screen’s first child star, appearing opposite Charlie Chaplin in “The Kid” and then finding fame as an adult with his role as Uncle Fester in the classic television series, “The Addams Family.” His grandfather was a trailblazer for young actors and both Coogan’s Law, which mandates how children actors can work, and Coogan’s Account, which is where 15% of a young actor’s income goes to be saved until they are an adult, are both named for him.

This coming Monday, September 14, Keith Coogan will be appearing in person at the Kansas City Alamo Drafthouse Theatre for a screening of “Adventures in Babysitting.” In between flights on his way to KC, he took time off to talk about his career.

Mike Smith: You’re going to be in Kansas City on Monday, attending a screening of “Adventures in Babysitting” and the Alamo Drafthouse. When fans approach you on the street, is that the film they most want to talk about?
Keith Coogan: It’s really neck and neck with “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.” Of course I also have a lot of people that love to talk about “Toy Soldiers” as well. I think “Adventures in Babysitting” is the one that reached the most audiences. The other night I was doing an appearance at the Alamo Draft House in Lubbock and I kept wondering if the people were thinking to themselves, “Who is this old man sitting behind Keith Coogan’s table?” (laughs) It’s been 28 years since “Adventures in Babysitting” came out and it still plays great to the house. It still gets all the laughs. It really does hold up.

MS: It’s ironic that you star in the two greatest movies ever made about babysitting. I have to ask…was that planned?
KC: No. Not planned. In fact, it was sprung on me mid-production on the second one. It was originally supposed to be called “The Real World,” because it focused on the girl (Christina Applegate) and her career goals. MTV was a producer on the film and they noted that they had a reality television show coming out with that title. They said they polled a bunch of 13-year old boys and the new name of the movie is, “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.” I asked them, “you know I was in another babysitting movie, right?”

MS: You work consistently in both film and television. Do you have a preference?
KC: Not at all. Wherever the good material is. I just finished a play about a month ago…I even tried stand-up for the first time. I really think television has come around. You see more and more featured actors making their way to television. The stigma of, “Oh, it’s television,” is gone. They can do so much more in thirteen hours with “Daredevil” then they could have in a two-hour movie. There would have been so many things they would have had to lose. Television…cable…the Internet…NetFlix. It’s all happening.

MS: This year marks the 101st birthday of your grandfather. As the first real child star, did he ever offer you any advice when you were starting out in your career?
KC: Yes. Watch your money and be careful of mothers! (laughs) He never really would offer any tips on acting. He always said it was my own thing. I remember once I was going up to play Tom Sawyer. My grandfather had appeared in the first talkie version of “Tom Sawyer” but he wouldn’t give me any advice. He told me I had to make it my own. He would only give me professional advice. Things like being on time, be prepared, know your stuff. Don’t be a brat on the set. And, of course, to keep an eye on your money!

MS: Do you feel an obligation to carry on his legacy?
KC: He was the world’s first child star. Which means he was the world’s first former child star. He had a lot of insight into the cyclical nature of the industry. Enjoy it when it’s up…keep control when it’s not. He enjoyed working up until the last few years of his life, which is something I want to do. I want to keep doing this forever. It’s a legacy I want to continue. It’s a legacy my wife and I are constantly working on (in the background Mr. Coogan’s wife laughs and says, “Wow!”)

MS: What do you have coming up next?
KC: I am actually going to dive in and make a short film. I’ve written it and I’ve got another draft to go. It’s kind of ambitious. A great concept. It will be a nice little test run. Because what I really want to do is direct! (laughs) That’s a T-shirt you can get from the Screen Actors Guild because all actors really want to direct. I think I’m ready!

Eric Bauza talks about voicing Puss in Boots in Netflix Animated Series “The Adventures of Puss in Boots”

Eric Bauza is one of the most talented voice actors in the business. He is wel known for voice characters like Tiger Claw in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to Chet in “Turbo FAST”. His latest role is also one of his biggest in which he is starring as Puss in Boots in the new Netflix animated series “The Adventures of Puss in Boots” from DreamWorks Animation. The show premieres today, January 16, 2015, on Netflix. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Eric about this role and his voice work.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about what we can expect from the new Netflix animated series “The Adventures of Puss in Boots”?
Eric Bauza: Basically it is the same character that we have grown to love from the feature films and now he is getting his very own Netflix series, which is very exciting. The possibilities are endless here. They have him on the go again and he stumbles upon this town by accident and he was looking for – (in Puss’ voice) I was looking for treasure and as a humble gato, I was also looking for my next meal (end Puss’ voice). He finds this city and falls in love with the town and swears to protect it again outlanders. It is funny because even though he is a good guy, he always has that bit of mischief that follows behind him. He was basically after the town’s treasure but ends up becoming their protector since the town, of course, has orphans in it and he himself is an orphan.

MG: How does this show differ from the “Shrek” films and “Puss in Boots” spin-offs?
EB: I think we have a little more breathing room and knowing that the end of each episode is not the end of the show, since it is an ongoing series. So we have a lot time to explore. There is a lot of background explored as well as some great new characters. These are things that usually don’t have in a feature. As an actor, I think that is very comfortable to be in that situation.

MG: Is there any possibility of well-known characters from the series popping up in this show?
EB: I would love to have any of the flagship characters from the “Shrek” universe making an appearance. But we do have an abundance of new fairy tale creatures that we are bringing in. We also have a few great celebrity guest stars that we are bringing in like Danny Trejo, John Leguizamo and H. Jon Benjamin have done some characters for us. There are so many surprises that are coming up but I do not want to spoil them all, so tune in and find out for yourself.

MG: You have voiced numerous characters in your career; which have been your favorites?
EB: Puss in Boots is definitely up there for me and one of my favorites. Antonio Banderas is such a huge star and (in Puss’ voice) to do a part that was done by Antonio, as a voice over artist that is something else (end Puss’ voice). I have done Marvin the Martian for Warner Bros and to me Mel Blanc is the Godfather of voice over. So to know that I was able to do a Mel Blanc character is huge.

MG: Going from Puss in Boots to Tiger Claw in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to Chet in “Turbo FAST”; what kind of characters are your favorite to play?
EB: That is the tricky about Puss in Boots because he always starts off as the rough around the edges – he is either an outlaw or a hero. I have done a vast amount of bad guys though. I voiced Destro from G.I. Joe. Marvin the Martian, like I said, he is a bad guy. I love being the bad guy every now and then. And I am a Canadian, so it is hard for me to be bad [laughs].

MG: Later this year you have “Transformers: Robots in Disguise”; what can you tell us about these projects?
EB: Yeah, “Transformers”, you are talking about an icon there. I got to work with Peter Cullen aka the voice of Optimus Prime. Khary Payton voices Grimlock and he also voiced Cyborg in “Teen Titans”. We all are like huge nerds already, so put us all in the same room and it’s a lot of fun.

Book Review “Disney Learning: Reading Adventures – Sofia the First – Level Pre-1 Boxed Set”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Reading Adventures
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: November 4, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I simply love “Disney Learning: Reading Adventures” series. Want your kids to not only have fun but also learn this is it. Talk about getting your money’s work…this book includes ten, 16-page books, 86 stickers, parent letter, and achievement certificate. Plus what little girl doesn’t love “Sofia the First”?! The topic of the books include “Numbers are Everywhere”, “How Do You Feel”, “What Does Sofia Know” and “Sofia Feelings”. These are great learning topics. Throw in some fun stickers to play with and you have a great mix of learning with the ability to have fun.

Official Premise: Disney Reading Adventures is a curriculum-based, leveled reading program that offers children the support and guidance they need as they progress on the reading continuum from emergent readers to independent readers who read for meaning. Thoughtfully crafted and engaging stories contain key features that develop children’s reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. The stories are highly predictable with repetitive sentence structures and easy-to-read sight words designed to inspire a sense of mastery and confidence.

 

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Book Review “Star Wars The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight”

Author: Tony DiTerlizzi jsut him
Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Star Wars
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Release Date: October 7, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

As a father of a two year old daughter, it is a fathers dream to have my daughter follow in my footsteps with my love of all things “Star Wars“. Ever since she was born, she has had “Star Wars” jumpers and outfits. Since Disney bought LucasFilm they have been doing great things for the series. They have some great new content for kids.

“Star Wars The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight” tells the classic tale of good versus evil set in a galaxy far, far away, quickly became a cultural phenomenon during its time, inspiring a generation of story lovers and storytellers. The story is told through Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art. It is kid friendly and a great way to get your kids interested in the series.

Author and illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi is the co-creator of the middle-grade series, “The Spiderwick Chronicles”. This book is his first teaming up with Lucasfilm to retell the original Star Wars trilogy in a picture book. I hope that they are planning to do many more of these.

 

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DVD Review “Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map”

Actors: Frank Welker, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Grey DeLisle Griffin, Matthew Lillard, John Rhys-Davies
Directors: Jomac Noph
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Run Time: 45 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I love “Scooby Doo”, I grew up watching it and now I have a daughter of my own that I can share it with. “Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map” is a unique take on the series since it is done with all puppets. That’s right puppets! I think it works for the most part. I still prefer classic animation but I enjoyed the change. Most importantly, my 20 month old daughter enjoyed this quite a bit. It is short, running 45 minutes, so it also kept her attention the entire time. I would recommend checking this out whether you are an old time “Scooby Doo” fan or if you have kids (for sure).

Official Premise: Get ready to experience the world-famous Scooby-Doo! and Crew like never before in this all-new, original puppet movie! What begins as a routine night for the Gang — which includes the slobbering sleuth and Shaggy eating a triple-extra-large Scooby snack pizza — becomes a mad dash to find the frightening Phantom Parrot, who has a map to pirate Gnarlybeard’s hidden treasure. Scooby sniffs out the map’s clues, which lead him right to a spooky pirate ship. Ruh-roh! What will Gnarlybeard be willing to do to protect his booty? The whole family will love casting off on this mysterious, fun-filled voyage again and again.

There are two bonus cartoons included along with this film. “The Backstage Rage” is the ninth episode of the first season of “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”, which first aired back in 1969. The other is “Robopup”, which is the twelfth episode of the first season of “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo” that aired back in 1988. It may be a whole lot of extras but when you have young child that asks for “More” after the film is over, it was nice to have another 45 minutes of episodes to share with her.

3D Blu-ray Review “Galactic Adventures Double Feature: 3D Sun/Mars 3D”

Actors: Al Roker
Directors: Barry Kimm
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
DVD Release Date: December 3, 2013
Run Time: 43 minutes

Films: 2.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: N/A

When it comes to space, I am sucker for anything…especially in 3D. This “Galactic Adventures Double Feature” included both “3D Sun” and “Mars 3D” but I wasn’t really blown away with either one. I was recently spoiled rotten with the brilliant film “Gravity” and coming back to these films, I just wasn’t “wowed”. Still though being able to view the sun up close…and in 3D is still pretty damn cool. The narration track by Al Roker is decent but I am not a huge fan of him either…I guess Morgan Freeman was busy. “Mars 3D” is neat only because it was the first that that NASA’s actual 3D footage was adapted for public viewing so that is kind of cool getting to see this but I would call both of these one-timers. I wouldn’t watch this again for sure and both also only run less than 45 minutes together, so for the price it just doesn’t sell me.

“3D Sun” Official Premise: From Earth, the Sun cannot be looked at with human eyes. Narrated by Al Roker, 3D SUN gives audiences a chance to see the Sun up close in startling 3D. Stand above the arctic circle and witness the most brilliant auroras on Earth; take a ride on a solar blast from Sun’s surface to Earth’s Magnetosphere, and come to a deeper understanding of what this vast sea of fire means to life here on Earth. In October 2006, NASA launched twin spacecraft from a single rocket in Florida — a spacecraft that would, for the first time in the history of space exploration, capture space-born, high-definition 3D images of the Sun. In 3D SUN, the leading NASA scientists from the mission unveil these images and take us behind the scenes to tell the story of the Sun and why it is of crucial importance to all of us.

“Mars 3D” Official Premise: Mars 3D takes viewers behind the scenes of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission revealing daily dramas, mind-boggling physics and compelling science behind the $820 million dollar NASA project. Behold this celebration of space exploration and the human stories behind the mission, how engineers plunged the depths of gravity and physics to ensure a successful launch an landing and how two 380 pound rovers will bring scientists closer than ever before to solving the mysteries of Mars.

“3D Sun” looks the best of the two with its 1080p transfer framed in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 3D looks pretty good and has some impressive depth. Now if we go to “Mars 3D”, this one was a real disappointment since it is only presented in a very sad 720p transfer in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Sorry but that is not Blu-ray quality at all, especially not 3D Blu-ray quality. Either way I feel like “Mars 3D” acts more like a bonus feature to this release as “3D Sun” carries most of the weight. Each film does have a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. There are no additional special features included besides the two films.

Blu-ray Review “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”

Starring: Sterling Holloway, John Fiedler, Junius Matthews, Paul Winchell, Ralph Wright, Hal Smith
Narrator: Sebastian Cabot
Directors: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: August 27, 2013
Run Time: 74 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I have always loved Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the 100 acre woods. I grew up watching “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”. It hard to believe that it was made over 35 years ago but it still holds up today and is very cute, humorous and screams classic Disney animation. The film consists of a collection of the original Pooh shorts including “The Honey Tree,” “The Blustery Day,” and “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too”, backed by great narration from Sebastian Cabot. Backed with an amazing musical score and original voices of Sterling Holloway as Pooh and Paul Winchell as Tigger, makes this film a timeless classic. Now if Disney is reading this they just need to release “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” along with its sequel “Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie” on Blu-ray next! Do I smell a the next double feature Blu-ray release?

Official Premise: Celebrate the never-ending friendship that has delighted generations with Pooh’s first and most beloved feature film. Full of fun and heartwarming stories, this Academy Award-winning animated classic (Best Cartoon Short Subject, 1968, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day) tells the tale of the first unforgettable meeting between Tigger (Paul Winchell) and Pooh (Sterling Holloway). Your family will laugh along when Pooh gets stuck in Rabbit’s (Junius Matthews) house from eating too much honey, and enjoy the lovable characters’ flurry of hilarious activity on a windy day. These timeless adventures are brought to life through extraordinary Disney animation and engaging songs and a digitally restored and remastered Blu-ray presentation.

Disney is releasing this Blu-ray as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy. I love that Disney has switched from just iTunes digital copies to streaming digital copies from Vudu and Amazon. The 1080p transfer looks quite stunning for a film of it’s age.  The animation is very sharp and I have always loved the line detail in “Winnie The Pooh” films. The colors are pop-out as well and are very well restored. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers as well. Since this film packs ome fun songs, it really gets a chance to shine. It also had my 15 month daughter on her feet dancing and clapping.

The special features are pretty decent as well. I particularly love the new feature “Disney Intermission”, which is activated when you pause the film with great and fun bonus activities for kids. There is an additional classic animated short including called “A Day for Eeyore”. If you watch Disney Junior like myself then you will be aware of the “Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” Shorts.  Included on this disc we get five shorts, including “If I Wasn’t So Small”, “Piglet’s Drawings”, “The Expedition”,  “Geniuses”, “The Honey Song”. There is a behind-the-scenes look in the feature “The Story Behind the Masterpiece”. There is a music video for the Winnie the Pooh Theme Song performed by Carly Simon. Lastly, there is a “Pooh Play-Along”, which is a great feature for the kids.

DVD Review “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec”

Actors: Louise Bourgoin, Mathieu Amalric, Gilles Lellouche
Directors: Luc Besson
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Shout! Factory
DVD Release Date: August 13, 2013
Run Time: 107 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

When I see the name of Luc Besson (“Taken”, “The Fifth Element”, “Le Femme Nikita”) behind a film my radar immediately goes off. The French filmmaker knows how to deliver entertaining action films, though this film doesn’t fall into that category. “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec” starts off like a French copy of “Indiana Jones” and shows promise but loses all its steam very quickly. The film is based on a comic from the 70’s. I must say that the film does with some pretty impressive visual effects as is the cinematography Thierry Arbogast, who worked with Besson as well on “The Fifth Element”. Unfortunately it doesn’t save the film.

Official Premise: The year is 1912. A 136 million-year old pterodactyl egg, housed on a shelf in the Natural History Museum, has mysteriously hatched, unleashing a prehistoric monster onto the Parisian streets. But nothing fazes Adele, when she finds a connection with the ancient bird and reveals many more extraordinary surprises. Based on the acclaimed historical fantasy books by Jacques Tardi, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec follows this intrepid adventurer as she uncovers mysterious Egyptian treasures, attempts to tame a wild pterodactyl, eludes dangerous enemies and braves a formidable phenomenon to save her ailing sister.

This film would definitely benefit from a Blu-ray release for sure to showcase those visuals.  The DVD comes with the original French audio in 5.1 Dolby Digital, as well as the terribly dubbed English track. The special features are ok but not spectacular. The best feature on the DVD is “The Making of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-sec” which is a solid nearly 30 minute behind-the-scenes look at this production. There a few short deleted scenes but are not even worth checking out.  Lastly there is a brief music featurette, which I did love the score but this is way too short. Personally if you are interested in this film, I would wait until October 1st when Shout! Factory releases this film with a Director’s Cut on Blu-ray combo pack with Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy.

Blu-ray Review “The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse”

Actors: Lee Perkins, Marshal Hilton, Maria Olsen, Michael Villar
Directors: Justin Paul Ritter
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Run Time: 88 minutes

Film: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1/2 out of 5 stars

“The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse” is a feature film version of the cult underground Dynamite comic series, “The Living Corpse Exhumed” by Ken Haeser and Buz Hasson. I have been to many comic conventions and have seen these guys there. The animation is terrible. The voice cast is amateur and almost laughable. The zombie genre has some pretty high standards recently and this film just doesn’t meet those. I found myself actually tempted to turn the film off many times as well, which is rare for me. This might work well with the convention scene but otherwise steer clear!

Meet John Romero, the decaying corpse with a conscience, wracked with guilt and ready to kick ass. In his first frenzy of undead hunger, he’ll infect his own wife and slaughter his young daughter. But now this reluctant brain-eater must brawl his way through the wretched fiends of Hell itself to protect his surviving son from the horrors of the living. Get ready for a limb-ripping, flesh-chomping animated battle from beyond the grave, based on the hit underground graphic novel from Dynamite Entertainment.

The Blu-ray presentation of “The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse” is not as bad as the film itself. Even though I was not a fan of the animation the CG still looks decent despite its very low production feel. The Dolby True HD 5.1 audio track also works well with the film’s sound design, but nothing that blows you away for sure. The score is very mellow and not that memorable either. The only special feature on the release is a downloadable PDF for a “The Living Corpse: Haunted” comic. Come on people, this is an example of a good comic series getting ruined by a low quality poor film version.

Book Review “Diane Franklin: The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s”

Author: Diane Franlin
Paperback: 134 pages
Publisher: Diane Franklin
Release Date: August 2, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

If you grew up in the 80’s and watched movies then you know who Diane Franklin is. If you were a teen guy (or a girl) you most likely had a crush on her. Her first film role was “The Last American Virgin”, which started her career as an 80’s icon. From there she took on roles in film like “Amityville II: The Possession”, “Better Off Dead”, “TerrorVision” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. These films were a big part of my life growing up. They are also all pinnacle films of the 80’s. This book is a real treat for anyone that is a fan of these films and are looking for an inside look into Diane’s career and life. When I recently spoke with Diane about her book, read here, she told me that she wanted to do this in a way to preserve her experiences and stories on these films for herself, her family and also her fans. It is great reflection of not only her films but also her life outside film.

“Diane Franklin: The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s” was self-publishing by Diane herself and is currently available for sale only on Amazon.com and for download to your Kindle devices, click here to purchase. This book is very personal and reads like a friendly conversation. It goes into a lot of Diane’s personal experiences. She includes a lot of great personal photos as well. My favorite part of the book though is how accessible it is. I am a big fan of “Better Off Dead”, so instead of searching through the whole book for what she wrote on that film in particularly, she has set up the book with chapters based on each film. So there are chapters on her films like “Last American Virgin”, “Bill & Ted”, “Better off Dead” etc. This is a very smart idea and a great selling point for the book. Maybe you don’t give a crap about “Amityville II” but you love her in another film. People can go directly to that movie and still enjoy the book.

Speaking of “Amityville II”, we all know Diane’s role in that film is a bit risqué. She goes into a lot of depth about that film as well in the book and fans of the film are going to LOVE IT! But speaking of risqué, Diane has actually rated each chapter dealing with her films, so some are rated PG-13 or rated R etc. So if you are a parent it will inform you on how mature each chapter of the book would be for your kids. It is not very graphic but the subject matter is more mature in the rated R chapters. This is a very unique book and one of the most interesting memoirs that I have ever read. Diane really goes back in time and relives these events and brings these wonderful stories for us to enjoy. What I also love is that the stories don’t stop with her 80’s films it goes into her early life as well and her life before and after she became an 80’s icon. It is very honest and engaging. If you are looking for a very quick, easy and fun read…then be sure to pick this up!

Blu-ray Review "Adventures in Zambezia"

Actors: Abigail Breslin, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy and Samuel L. Jackson
Directors: Wayne Thornley
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Running Time: 82 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Adventures in Zambezia” is a beautiful film but feels like its been done so many times before.  It reminds me of a mix between “Ice Age” and “Rio” but without the heart.  The best thing this film has going for it is the amazing voice cast including Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine”), Jeff Goldblum (“Jurassic Park”), Leonard Nimoy (“Star Trek”) and Samuel L. Jackson (“”Pulp Fiction”).  But they can’t carry the whole film on their own.  Kids should enjoy this but parents beware don’t get taken in by the colors and the familiar voices.

Official Premise: When a spirited young falcon named Kai (Jeremy Suarez, TV’s The Bernie Mac Show) learns of Zambezia, the fabulous city of birds, he leaves his remote country home against the wishes of his father (Jackson). But when his dad is captured by an evil lizard who plans to attack the city, Kai must learn the importance of teamwork if he’s to rescue his father, save his new friends and help keep Zambezia lizard free. Samuel L. Jackson, Abigail Breslin, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy give voice to this beautifully animated fun-filled adventure the whole family will enjoy.

Sony is releasing this film as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. The 1080p transfer is very sharp and since the film is so colorful it really pops. This film was originally made to be seen in 3D and there are many scenes that are missing that depth. I would have loved to have seen Sony give this film the 3D treatment, as it was made to be seen. I do not think it would have made the film any better though but just a missed opportunity. The audio included is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.  This works well with the fun music in the film and compliments the voice actors very well.

The special features are attractable for the kiddies and parents alike. There are four interesting and fun featurettes. “Birds of a Feature” looks at the birds that inspired the film and the voices behind them. “An African Story” looks into the story and the script behind the film. “The Tree City” looks into creating the animated Zambezia. “Technical Challenges” looks into the animating issues during production. Lastly there is a music video included for “Come Fly with Me” by Jewels Jaselle and Benj Heard.

DVD Review "Gumby's Best Episodes: The Original Adventures"

Created by: Art Clokey
Voices of: Dallas McKennon and Art Clokey
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Legend Films
DVD Release Date: February 26, 2013
Run Time: 90 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

As I am a child of the 80’s, I came to love “Gumby” during his revival in the late 1980’s. I remember it also being my first reveal with claymation or stop-motion animation besides the Rankin/Bass holiday specials. I don’t know what it is but I have always had a special place for this green clay hero and his little dog Pokie. There are way over 200 episodes spanning from this series dating back to the mid-1950’s. So since I doubt we will ever get a complete series release, the closest we ever came was with Rhino’s 7-DVD boxed set with over 100 episodes from 2002, I am excited to see that Legend Films is giving this series some love. I hope that this release is the first of many volumes of this series.

Official Premise: Legend Films is proud to offer this collection of the best episodes from Gumbys Original Adventures series. See Gumby and Pokey as they find adventure and learn valuable lessons along the way. Watch Gumby as he attempts to sneak away for fun with Pokey by setting robots to do his chores in Yard Work Made Easy, see a wonderful masterpiece of music and animation in Gumbys Concerto, and find out how Gumby helps the poor King save his only daughter with a 25 cent toy in Sad King Otts Daughter. These claymation masterpieces are just as heartwarming and charming today as they were at their beginning — more than fifty years ago! Its perfect entertainment fun for the entire family!

The 16 episodes included here are: “Tree Trouble”, “Lion Drive”, “Yard Work Made Easy”, “Sad King Ott’s Daughter”, “The Block Heads”, “Gumby’s Concerto”, “The Glob”, “Baker’s Tour”, “The Black Knight”, “The Kachinas”, “In a Fix”, “The Witty Witch”, “The Groobee”, “Gumby Racer”, “Rain for Roo” and “Hidden Valley”. There is a nice combination of episodes from the 50’s and 60’s run of this show. I still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the first time I saw the episode “Gumby Racer”. That really brought back some fun memories. The episodes are old and aren’t restored at all here but it is great to see them like I remember. Here is a fun fact for horror fans the episode of “Gumby” titled “Clay Play” (not on this release) appeared in an episode of “Freddy’s Nightmares” titled “The End of the World”, also from the 80’s.

DVD Review "Chuggington: Safari Adventures (Limited Edition)"

Actors: Chuggington Characters
Directors: Sarah Ball
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
DVD Release Date: February 12, 2013
Run Time: 61 minutes

Episodes: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

All aboard! The gang of Chuggington is at it again and taking preschoolers from coast-to-coast in their latest release “Safari Adventures”.  My eight month old daughter really digs this show, especially the theme song.  I love that fact that it is filled with valuable life lessons for her to enjoy as she grows up. This all-new compilation is being released just in time for Valentine’s Day! It comes in two different versions: the standard DVD and also a limited edition release that features a collectible Mtambo toy engine from TOMYTM.  If you are a fan of this show then this release is a no-brainer for sure! CHUGGINGTON!!

Official Premise: Honk Your Horns For The Ultimate Safari Adventure! In these six episodes — plus a bonus Badge Quest episode — Koko helps out a pack of playful squirrels, Brewster investigates banana thieves at the Safari Park, and Wilson hauls a mischievous elephant to its new home. There’s monkey business with Zephie, a royal visitor for Mtambo and jungle camouflage, too. With good friends and helpful adults like Puffer Pete, Eddie and Dunbar, your own little trainees will learn all about problem solving, working together and being patient with the animals, in this collection of fun-filled Safari adventures.

The special features are decent and fun for the kiddies. There is a bonus Badge Quest episode titled “Animal Helper”.  There are also two featurettes called “The Chugger Spotlight”, one called Koko and the other Mtambo (aka the toy car that comes with the DVD). Both very cute. Lastly there are various coloring and activity sheets to print for kids via the your DVD-ROM drive. Props have to go to Disney though cause without them I wouldn’t have found out about this show. The air it weekdays on Disney Channel’s Disney Junior programming block but more importantly daily on their new 24-hour Disney Junior cable.  The series is currently in its third season and I hope to see much more of these DVD’s released in the future.

DVD Review “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – Adventures in the Crystal Empire”

Actors: Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St. Germain
Directors: Jayson Thiessen
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Run Time: 120 minutes

Release: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

When I showed this title to my wife, who grew up with the original 80’s series, the first thing she said is she hated the way the animation looks. I understand where she is coming from but I kind of like of the Japanese anime feel to this new rebooted series. Watching this show with my six month old daughter, she couldn’t take her eyes off the screen. It is like a color and noise explosion for the kids.

There are four episodes includes from “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” series, including “The Crystal Empire Part 1 & 2, Sonic Rainboom, Luna Eclipsed and “It’s About Time”. Though on the same day that this is being release “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic- Season One” is also being released, I would just recommend that one since you get 26 episodes of 5 for only double the price. At the time of writing this review they have aired 57 episodes and are into season three, so Shout Factory better get a move on releasing season two quickly!

Official Premise: In Adventures in the Crystal Empire, a magical empire has suddenly appeared in the arctic north of Equestria, and Princess Celestia needs Twilight Sparkle and her friends to find a way to protect it. While her friends try to keep the Crystal Ponies occupied at the Crystal Faire, Twilight Sparkle searches for the hidden Crystal Heart that is the key to keeping their empire safe from harm!

The show itself is extremely colorful and very eye-catching for kids. The DVD is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and with 2.0 Stereo audio track. If you are looking for more “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, the series is currently airing on The HUB TV Network. So check it out! The special features are a little light for a kids release but include a coloring sheet and sing-along.

Book Review “The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare”

Author: Sam McBratney
Reading level: Ages 3 and up
Hardcover: 72 pages
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: August 28, 2012

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I am new to the beloved character of Nutbrown Hare but I am already in love with him.  This new book includes four new exciting adventures from the author, Sam McBratney, of the best-selling “Guess How Much I Love You” series.

Synopsis: “Just like young children everywhere, Little Nutbrown Hare likes to explore, play, venture out into the world, and sometimes just savor the comfort of being at home with loved ones. But whatever he does, and wherever he goes, Big Nutbrown Hare is always there to cheer him on. In a beautiful jacketed Guess How Much I Love You storybook, here are four heartwarming new stories that little readers (and their bigger companions) will instantly relate to.”

The illustration is very simplistic yet very warm and soft. The travels of Nutbrown continue as his explores the world around him including the rivers, mountains, fields and trees! This book will give kids the desire to get out and explore the world around them just like Nutbrown Hare. Hopefully this is only the beginning of these adventures with more to come.