email@example.comDVD PICK OF THE WEEK: THE LITTLE MERMAID(Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)
The resurgence of Disney Studios’ animated features can be traced directly to this irresistible 1989 romp that was branded an instant classic in the studio’s grand tradition.Jodi Benson voices the title character, a mermaid named Ariel who can’t help but wonder what it’s like to be human — especially when she gets a look at handsome Eric (voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes). Pat Carroll memorably brings vocal life to the villainousUrsula, who grants Ariel’s wish but at steep cost.Other notable voices include those of Buddy Hackett, Kenneth Mars, Paddi Edwards and Edie McClurg, but it’s Samuel E. Wright who steals the show as Sebastian the Crab. The story is fast-paced and fun, the animation first-rate, and composer/lyricists Alan Menken and Howard Ashman serve up a splendid array of songs including “Part of Your World,” “Les Poissons,” the Oscar-nominated “Kiss the Girl” and the Oscar-winning “Under the Sea.” Menken also took home the Oscar for Best Original Score.The Little Mermaid is available in a new “Diamond Edition” DVD ($29.99 retail), Blu-ray ($39.99 retail), a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($44.99 retail), or a 3-D DVD/Blu-ray combo ($49.99 retail). Rated G.
“THE ADVENTURES OF CHUCK & FRIENDS: BUMPERS UP!” (Hasbro Studios/Shout! Kids Factory): A DVD collection ($12.99 retail) of 10 episodes from the animated kids’ program (broadcast on The Hub) about an industrious dump truck and his fuel-injected friends.
BRATZ BABYZ SAVE CHRISTMAS (LionsGate): It’s animated, it’s for kids, the DVD retails for $14.98, and the title says it all.
“BUBBLE GUPPIES: SUNNY DAYS!” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): The title tells all in this DVD selection ($16.99 retail) of episodes from the award-winning, animated Nickelodeon children’s series. To celebrate the holidays, Nickelodeon/Paramount has also released “Bubble Guppies and Team Umizoomi: Into the Snow We Go!,” a DVD collection ($14.99 retail) of three yuletidethemed episodes from the award-winning Nickeledeon series.
CHIHUAHUA TOO! (Entertainment One): The live-action, family-friendly comedy franchise continues in this follow-up to the 2010 film, this time involving the inheritance of a house haunted by the dog of the previous owner! The DVD retails for $9.98.
“CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS … AND MORE STORIES ABOUT FAMILY” (Scholastic Storybook Treasures): A DVD collection ($14.95 retail) of four popular children’s stories: “All the World” (narrated by Joanne Woodward), “Crow Call” (narrated by Julia Fein), “Elizabeti’s Doll” (narrated by Lynn Whitfield), and the title tale (narrated by Emily Eiden).
COME DANCE WITH ME (Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): Predictable Hallmark Channel romance with ageless Andrew Mc-Carthy as a financial wiz who wants to woo his intended (Stephanie Mills) by learning how to dance but winds up getting involved with his dance instructor (Michelle Nolden).
“DON’T LET THE PIGEON STAY UP LATE … AND MORE STORIES BY MO WILLEMS” (Scholastic Storybook Treasures): A DVD collection ($14.95 retail) of three animated shorts based on award-winning children’s stories: “Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion,” “Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct,” and the title tale, all three featuring the voices of author Mo Willems and the first two with Cher.
“DORA THE EXPLORER: DORA’S GREAT ROLLER SKATE ADVENTURE” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): The title tells all in this DVD collection ($14.99 retail) of episodes from the award-winning, long-running Nickelodeon animated children’s series. Paramount/Nickelodeon gets into the holiday spirit with the three-episode DVD compilation “Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Ice Skating Spectacular!” ($14.99 retail).
“GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU”:HIDDEN TREASURE (Entertainment One): A DVD collection ($12.98 retail) of seven episodes from the animated Disney Junior series based on the popular children’s book by Sam McBratney, following the misadventures of Little Nutbrown Hare (voiced by Matthew Jacob Wayne).
MERRY IN-LAWS (Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment): Actress Leslie Hope directed this corny but unpretentious yuletide fluff with Kassia Warshawski as a single mother anxious to meet the parents of her fiancé (Lucas Bryant) — only to discover that they’re Santa and Mrs. Claus (“Cheers” co-stars George Wendt and Shelley Long).
THE NAUGHTY LIST (Arc Entertainment): Breezy, animated holiday confection about two mischievous elves (voiced by Sean Astin and Drake Bell) and a reindeer (voiced by Naya Rivera) who are called upon to save Christmas when Santa (voiced by Kyle Chandler) is laid low. It’s not Disney but it’ll do — and the short running time (under an hour) doesn’t hurt.
“PUPPY IN MY POCKET: THE FRIEND- SHIP CEREMONY” (Entertainment One): A DVD selection ($9.98 retail) of episodes from the animated Cartoon Network children’s series based on the popular toy line of pocket-sized pets.
THE SNOW QUEEN (Vertical Entertainment): This animated, PG-rated adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale, originally produced in Russia (as Snezhnaya koroleva), receives an English-language makeover including a Mark Willott score and a voice-over cast including Jessica Straus, Doug Erholtz, Erin Fitzgerald and Cindy Robertson (as the Snow Queen). The DVD retails for $20.99.
“SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: IT’S A SPONGEBOB CHRISTMAS!” (Nickelodeon/Paramount): The title tells all in this animated, holiday-themed feature based on the long-running, award-winning Nickelodeon series, with guest star John Goodman as the voice of Santa Claus. The DVD/Blu-ray combo retails for $21.99. Nickelodeon/Paramount also celebrates the upcoming holidays with its DVD “Holiday Gifts,” including a coloring book, sticker sheet and poster, and each retailing for $19.99: Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Christmas Carol, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rise of the Turtles, Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom Movie and, indeed, SpongeBob Squarepants: It’s a SpongeBob Christmas.
“THOMAS & FRIENDS: KING OF THE RAILWAY — THE MOVIE” (HIT Entertainment/LionsGate): The lovable locomotive from the long-running “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends” TV series encounters four new engines in this feature-length animated outing available on DVD ($19.98 retail) or as a DVD/Blu-ray combo ($24.99 retail).
THUNDERSTRUCK (Warner Home Video): It’s the old “switcheroo” for NBA superstar Kevin Durand and teen Taylor Gray as they magically exchange powers in this predictable but painless comedy with James Belushi and son Robert as Gray’s coaches, and a slew of celebrity cameos: Conan O’Brien, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Shaquille O’Neal, etc. Rated PG.
“TOTALLY SPIES! COLLECTION”: SEASONS 1-3 (Flatiron Film Company/ Cinedigm): A 12-DVD boxed set ($99.95 retail) featuring all 78 episodes from the 2001-2005 seasons of the popular Cartoon Network series detailing the adventures of three high-school girls (voiced by Andrea Baker, Jennifer Hale and Katie Griffin) who are undercover agents. Flatiron/Cinedigm is also releasing “Totally Spies!: Season Two, Volume One — Secret Agents,” and “Totally Spies! Season Two, Volume Two — Fame & Fashion” each retailing for $19.95.
“WHEELS ON THE BUS” (Entertainment One): Roger Daltrey lends his voice to a pair of animated children’s education specials: “All Around Town” and “Animal Adventure,” each DVD retailing for $9.98 !
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. © 2013, Mark Burger.