1 The Mickey Mindset: March 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Retro Reviews: The Return of Jafar

Michael Wermuth- The Return of Jafar is the first sequel to Aladdin, the first of many direct-to-video animated sequels from Disney, and the second animated Disney sequel (after The Rescuers Down Under).

 The movie takes place sometime after the previous movie, though Aladdin and Jasmine are not yet married. The Genie comes back from traveling around the world. And Jafar is now a genie, only trapped inside the lamp and burried underground. Iago, who Jafar had forced into the lamp with him, gets out and decides not to let Jafar free. He decides to join Aladdin, though Aladdin is initially skeptical about it. The lamp gets into the hands of Abis Mal, a thief who hated Aladdin for beating him to gold he was going to steal. Jafar is limited to the rules of being a genie, which means he can't kill Aladdin, so after he tricks Abis Mal into wasting his first two wishes, he convinces him into wishing him free after the two plot to arrange for Aladdin to be killed.

 Robin Williams did not return to voice the Genie in this sequel (or the series), so Genie is voiced by Dan Castlenetta, best known as the voice of Homer Simpson on The Simpsons. And he does a fairly good job as the Genie (though he does sound like Homer at times). Most of the songs are forgettable, though I do like "Forget About Love", which Iago sings to Jasmine when she's mad at Aladdin. The songs aren't bad, but I can't remember them too well without watching the movie. Iago is great here, where he constantly switches from being a good guy to working with Jafar again to becoming a good guy again.

 The Return of Jafar is a fairly decent movie. For a direct-to-video sequel, it's not very bad (actually I don't think any of the direct-to-video sequels that I've seen are too bad, maybe it's best that I haven't seen the really horrible ones). Maybe it's not as good as Aladdin, but it is worth watching.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Frozen Becomes the Highest Grossing Animated Film of All Time

Mitchell Stein- The fantastic Disney Animated film, Frozen has officially surpassed Toy Story 3, The Lion King and Despicable Me 2 and landed itself as the highest grossing film of all time, as well as being crowned the tenth place on the highest grossing film of all time, which includes live action as well as animated.

We applaud Walt Disney Animated Studios on this amazing achievement, especially for a film that's not a follow-up to any other previous animated film is an amazing feat, so of course the good folks over at Disney Animation are really excited. As well as all this flood of money coming to the movie, the movie earned Best Animated Feature at the Golden Globes, the Annie awards, and at the Academy Awards, and walked home with the award for Best Song, "Let It Go".

The total gross of the film as of this morning was $1,072.4 million according to BoxOfficeMojo.com and an official press release from Disney. 

If you haven't seen Frozen yet, it's still playing in many theaters across North America and opened recently in many countries internationally. Check local listings for showtimes. 

Congratulations to the entire team who worked on Frozen! What an incredible achievement! I think it's safe to say we'll be seeing a lot of Frozen theme-park tie-ins, and possibly a Broadway musical in a few years and most probably a sequel soon. That's okay with us. The cold never bothered us anyway. 

Frozen is available to own on Blu-Ray and DVD. Read our review of the home release right here! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

News Update: March 28th 2014

Starting off out weekly news roundup is Victory Hill Exhibitions is teaming up with Marvel for an all-new exhibit, Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N, which will take an all new look at the box-office smash and will be premiering at Discovery Center Times Square on May 23rd 2014! (Source: Stitch Kingdom)

Disney Parks have released some more info on their upcoming Destination D event, named "Attraction Rewind". At this D23 event, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 Worlds Fair and debut of It's A Small World, Carousel of Progress, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and Primeval World. Also, see video concept art for these attractions and other fan-favorite attractions including If You Had Wings, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and many other beloved attractions that don't stand today. This event is not to be missed. The event will take place on November 22nd and 23rd at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney purchased company Maker Studios this week. Maker Studios is an online leader of Youtube video content with over 55,000 channels, 380 million subscribers, and 5.5. billion views per month. The purchase will cost $500 million, and another $450 million if the strong performance targets are met.

Muppets Most Wanted hit theaters in North America last weekend! If you still haven't decided to see the film or not yet, make sure to check out our review! Muppets Most Wanted takes the Muppets on a European World Tour only to get caught in the diabolical schemes of Constantine, the World's Most Dangerous Frog and his plan to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. There's lots of fun to be had, great gags, and the human cast is brilliant. Check out our review!

ABC'S Once Upon a Time in Wonderland airs it's series finale this upcoming Thursday on ABC at 8/7c. Once Upon a Time will remain on the air, and will probably be renewed for a fourth season, but it's Wonderland spin-off show will be airing it's final episode this week.

Going viral this week in the Disney fan circles is this brand new "Cell Phone Crashing" video, released by Mediocre Films on their Youtube Channel. The "cell phone crashes" decide to pay a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth and crash fellow visitors phone discussions, which result in very hilarious results.

Sofia the First: The Floating Palace arrives on DVD on April 8th! The film features Sofia visiting some her mermaid friends, including one you probably know from a 1989 classic Disney Animated film. See the clip below! 

Two new clips from Captain America: The Winter Soldier hit the internet this week! The first one is named "Blast from the Past" and the second listed is "Engine Room Secure". Captain America 2 hits theaters next Friday in North America. Check back next Friday for a review!

Because this was too fun not to share, Digital artist Chris Alcoran has taken photos from Disneyland's Tomorrowland and combined them with outer space visions. It's truly beautiful and awe-inspiring.

That's all for now! Have a magical week! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Review: The Muppets Omnibus, Muppets Most Wanted Read-Along

The Muppets Omnibus Review:

Mitchell Stein- Back in 2009, Disney and Boom Studios released a series of Muppet Show Comic Books, written and illustrated by Roger Landridge. The books were so incredibly successful that they were all sold out on the first day, and it went back for another printing. Disney of course released follow-ups to this comic books with many more after, including The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson, On The Road, and The Four Seasons. 

Now, you can own all of the great Muppet Show comic books in one collection. The Muppets Omnibus features comics from the original issue, “Meet the Muppets” up until last years’ “The Four Seasons” in one big giant collection re-printed under the Marvel Comics brand.

Not only are the comics fun to read, but they also said to be the inspiration for some elements in the Disney Muppet films, including Kermit’s doppelganger Kismet the Toad and Animal’s fear of drumming and others. While not all of the Muppets translate into 2D artwork, it’s the story here that matters and not about the art. The story is wacky, fun and interesting. The various different variety sketches are funny and Muppety worthy of an episode of The Muppet Show, especially if the Muppet Show started off as a comic book.

Not only does it feature Landridge’s popular comics, but it also features Muppet comic “Pigs in Space” where Fozzie and Rizzo try to pitch a “Pigs in Space” feature film to two grumpy old Hollywood producers, played by the Muppets’ resident grumps, Statler and Waldorf. I absoloutley love this comic as the story is perfectly wacky and zany and everything a Muppet comic should be. The wonderful artwork is by Shelli Paroline, but she is only credited as an artist, so I am left to assume the story was written again by Roger Landridge. 

Of course, it features Muppet Show comic books by Amy Mebberson. Amy has had quite a history with Disney drawing not only Muppet characters, but many Disney characters for comic books and character design. I absolutely love Amy’s style of artwork. Somehow, every character always looks spot-on and translate so well into comic form. It’s really beautiful artwork, and I am a major fan of Amy Mebberson’s continuous collaborations with the Disney Company.

The Amy Mebberson issues “Family Reunion” mark the return of many famous characters, including Skeeter, Andy and Randy Pig, Robin, and Emily Bear. It’s a lot of fun and it’s great to see these characters back in some form.
Overall, if you haven’t yet picked up the copies of the comics, I suggest you pick up a copy of this collection. It’s a fantastic collection of the brilliant Muppet comics, plus the original Muppet comics that Roger Landridge wrote and drew for Disney Adventures magazine plus concept art, original sketches and various cover arts. There’s lots of fun to be had in this edition, so I highly suggest Muppet fans that like to read should check this one out.

Muppets Most Wanted Read-Along Review

Mitchell Stein- I actually got this book over a month ago, but I was too afraid to open it until I saw Muppets Most Wanted, as I really abhor spoilers. But now that I read and reviewed the fantastic film, I was ready to open this to review.

Following in the Read-Along series based off of Disney films, the Muppets Most Wanted read-along features the story of the film along with a CD that your child can listen to and read-along with the book in their hands. The speaking is slower-paced so beginner readers can read along, and it also features audio from the movie when one of the characters are quoted. This book is really geared towards the younger audience of Muppet fans, and it's a great way to help your kids learn how to read.

Also, be sure to check out some other read-alongs in the series, including The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Frozen, The Lion King, Planes, and a lot more classic Disney films.

Muppets Most Wanted Read-Along is now available to own. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Retro Reviews: Student Exchange

Jason Schlierman- Today I'll be reviewing a lesser-known Disney Channel TV movie, Student Exchange, which originally aired in 1987. 

Student Exchange
Original Airdate: November 29, 1987 / Running Time: 88 min. / Rating: TV-G
Director: Mollie Miller / Writers: William Davies, William Osborne, Debra Frankel / Cast: Viveka Davis, Todd Field, Rob Estes, Heather Graham, Maura Tierney, Mitchell Anderson, Lisa Hartman Black

One of the biggest complaints from most long-time Disney fans about the programming on the Disney Channel today is that modern Disney Channel is too geared towards pre-teens and teens.  With modern shows like Good Luck, Charlie or Wizards of Waverly Place, or tv films such as Camp Rock or Lemonade Mouth, it could be easy to forget that while the Disney Channel of the past focused on a wider demographic, it did still feature shows and films geared towards adolescents.  One such entry is 1987’s Student Exchange

Originally airing in late November 1987, Student Exchange stars Todd Field (future director of the much more adult-geared In the Bedroom and Little Children) and Viveka Davis (V, V: The Final Battle) as Neil Barton and Carole Whitcomb respectfully.  Neil and Carole are best friends who find themselves at the bottom of the popularity food-chain at their high school.  It is so bad that no one ever notices that they exist, despite the fact that both of them are straight “A” students and have both been accepted to Ivy League schools.

Carole especially wants to be noticed and Neil finds himself interested in one of the more popular girls at school, Dorrie Ryder (played by a very young Heather Graham).  Just as both of these friends are about to reach the height of frustration Carole learns that two exchange students, who were supposed to make a stop at their school, have been re-directed to another school instead.  This leads to Carole hatching a plan for her and Neil to pose as the two exchange students in the hope of gaining notice and popularity.  While Neil is at first reluctant, after an attempt to gain the fair Dorrie’s heart goes wrong he decides to go ahead with it.  Soon Carole and Neil are posing as Simone Swaare of France and Adriano Parbritzzi from Italy.

From the moment the deception starts, Simone and Adriano are a huge hit with the student body.  Simone catches the attention of all the boys in the school, especially Rod (Party of Five’s Mitchell Anderson), who is the popular jock on the football team and was dating popular girl Kathy Maltby (pre-News Radio Maura Tierney in her first major acting debut).  He dumps his girlfriend to pursue Simone.  This leads to a very jealous Kathy searching for a way to ruin Simone and win Rod back, which in turn leads her to discover some juicy secrets about “Simone” that will do just that.  Meanwhile, Adriano has the ladies practically melting in his hand, including Dorrie, who wouldn’t even notice him before as Neil. 

Things start to get bad, however, after Adriano starts taking his new found popularity too far, leading to a motor cycle race dare that gets the friends in trouble with Vice Principal Durfner (Gavin MacLeod of The Love Boat fame).  After a few close calls that almost blow their cover, Carole and Neil realize that their time as popular kids may soon be coming to an end, as well as their going to Ivy League schools if they are caught.  Vowing to find a way to make sure that the impeding reveal of their true identities does not happen until after the school play Carole got into as Simone is over, Neil, as Adriano, hatches a desperate plan to keep the charade up for just a little longer. 

The film futures an ending that is very similar to just about every Disney Channel Pre-teen/ teen film today, with the climax of the story being a big song and dance number that I didn’t find all that enjoyable.  It also has a heavy dosage of late 80’s style, which makes sense since that is when the film was made.  It is, however, interesting to see many of these actors in what, for most of them, is one of their first studio roles.
The film had never been released in any home entertainment format until earlier this year when it made its DVD(R) debut.  It was one of the first in a new collection of made-to-order DVD’s from Disney Home Entertainment, sold exclusively through CreateSpace and Amazon.com’s DVD-on-Demand service. 

The “Generations Collection” and any other Disney DVD-on-Demand titles will generally be about as bare bones as you can get.  But if you are a fan of any of these titles, you’ll probably just be happy that they are even on DVD at all!  As is typical of “Generations Collection” titles, the DVD comes in a case with a blue cover.  “Generations Collection” is written in big type on the top of the front cover with the an image for the film right below that, and the film title is located at the bottom.  The inside holds only the disc with no papers or inserts.

The disc itself is covered in a dark, navy blue color that once again as the “Generations Collection” logo nice and big on the top and then the film title on the bottom.  Right below the film title is a bar code with all the other logos on either side.  While there is no disc art, it is much easier to read then the metallic, artless DVD’s of a decade ago and what we’ve been getting the last few years.  I actually wish all artless discs were this nice.
The disc presents the film with 2.0 Dolby Digital sound, and while it isn’t as amazing as the best Blu-ray ever released, for the average consumer it’s just fine.  In fact, for a made-on-demand DVD, it sounds rather good.  There is no background fuzz that I could tell and you can hear the music, dialogue and sound effects clearly.  The other main thing is that the disc will not play on a PC.  It will, however, play on a Mac.  While the back of the case doesn’t mention that it plays on Mac’s, it does mention not being able to play on PC’s.  I should mention that I’ve heard it does play on computers running Vista 7. 

The Image:
Getting the correct aspect ratio for their DVD releases has been an issue that has plagued many a Disney DVD over the years, and sadly that issue has carried over into this collection.  Thankfully, being a tv film from the 1980’s, “Student Exchange” is presented in its correct aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and thus avoids this issue.  The back of the case also boasts that the film has been digitally mastered.
The colors look good for a late 80’s tv film, with the picture being surprisingly clear for most of the film.  There is a slight warm fuzz to the image with a slight film grainy look in some parts, but the kind you’d expect from a production on tv back in the 80’s.  I’d say it feels like a really, really good VHS.  The title and credits at the beginning of the film look a bit washed out and the end credits have different colors in the background which look really warm and bright.  Film purists and modern DVD/ Blu-ray collectors will likely have issues with the picture, as it does not seem to have much, if any, work put into it like major releases will, but the average consumer probably isn’t going to care or even notice.  If every title in this collection looked as good, most consumers would be satisfied.  Plus, when you pop it into a Blu-ray player the up conversion makes it look even better, making it slightly crisper then in a standard DVD player. 

Menu and Extras:
Once you pop it in, the DVD will automatically lead to a very simple, blue menu screen.  The screen looks a lot like the case with the “Generations Collection” logo, though much smaller, at the bottom, with the film title bigger at the top, and a really big “PLAY” located in the center.  Despite the fact that the DVD does include chapters, there is sadly not an option to access them save for hitting the “Next Chapter” button on your remote once the film has started.  There are also no subtitles and the only language on the disc is English.

Once you hit the “PLAY” option, the disc will start playing the various legal messages typically found on studio DVD and Blu-rays, and then go right into the film.  It would be nice to have at least an original tv ad for the film, and it would be great if future titles released had at least a small something.  However, chances are not looking good that such a thing will come about, at least any time soon. 

Final Conclusion:
A great film that teaches the importance of being true to yourself, I’d highly recommend Student Exchange to families looking for an alternative to modern family films, fans of classic Disney Channel, and 80’s enthusiasts.  Film collectors, however, may wish to skip it as it does not boast the best possible picture or sound and is very bare bones.  But fans of this film will still want to pick it up if only to remember the past.  At $19.99 list price however, consumers on a budget wishing to purchase the film may want to wait until the price drops a few dollars first.

Buy Student Exchange HERE.

Photos: Disney Wiki, disney.wikia.com

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

Monday, March 24, 2014

Retro Reviews: Gus (1976)

John Perrucci- What happens when Charles Gwynn (Harold Gould*) hires Spinner (Tom Bosley*) and Crankcase (Tim Conway*) to kidnap a football-kicking Mule (Gus); owned by Andy Petrovicfrom (Gary Grime*, final film role); from winning games for a football team owned by Hank Cooper (Ed Asner*) and Coach Venner (Don Knotts*)? You get: Hilarious results!

Also appearing in this movie is football players Johnny Unitas and Dick Butkus, Bob Crane (his final film role, famous for Hogans Heroes), Liam Dunn (some of his credits include: Bonanza, Room 222, Gunsmoke, Disney's The Shaggy D.A. - sequel to the original Disney's the Shaggy Dog), sportscaster Dick Enberg, and Virginia O'Brien (her final film role, famous for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals of the 1940s).

I give it 5 out of 5 stars, because some parts made me laugh, and because of the actors who appeared in the movie. Plus, the idea of a mule being a player on a football team is also funny.

Some quick facts about the movie...

Fact 1: The film did well and was released on home video in 1981. The movie is remembered for two sequences involving a hotel and a supermarket.

Fact 2: This is the only one of their five films together where Don Knotts and Tim Conway do not share any scenes.

Fact 3: The name "Hank Cooper" was later used in the Disney film The Love Bug as the name of the mechanic who meets Herbie (played by Bruce Campbell). Don Knotts co-starred with Dean Jones in the film Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.

This review was put together by Johnathan Perrucci, with information provided by Wikipedia.

  1. Charles Gwynn who is famous for his character in Rhoda and in The Golden Girls. 
  2.  Tom Bosley who is famous for Happy Days and Murder, She Wrote. 
  3. Tim Conway also appears in the film and is famous for McHale's Navy, The Carol Burnett Show, Barnacle Boy from 1999-present ~ [Spongebob], quite a few appearances in the Scooby-Doo media, and a few other Disney films as well.
  4. Ed Asner is famous for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, spin-off: 
  5. Don Knotts is famous for The Andy Griffith Show, Three's Company, Scooby-Doo media, among many other Disney films).
  6. Lou Grant, Disney Pixar's Up [2009 film, as Carl Fredricksen], Buzz Lightyear of Star Command [as Fixer in an episode from 2000], Disney's Hercules [animated series as Mentor, in a 1998 episode], Disney's Recess [as Thaddeus T. Third V / Additional Voices from 1997-2001], Disney's Gargoyles [as quite a few characters from 1994-1996], and Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (TV Series - as Horace McNickle in 1986).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Chase Beecher Reviews...Muppets Most Wanted!

This article includes minor spoilers. 

Chase Beecher- They've got another go to show. They've ordered a sequel. The studio thinks they're a viable franchise. Yes, friends, this is how the Muppets open their movie. Well, this movie. Yes, the Muppets.... again. No, that's not the name of the film.
"Muppets Most Wanted" is the film's title. You will want to see it. Not only is it a funny madcap caper following the Muppets on a worldwide tour of "The Muppet Show" it's a tale of a pig and a frog,and another frog.

Our beloved Kermit is frognapped and replaced by the world's number one frog and criminal, Constantine. He is a dead ringer for Kermit. Almost. He has a mole on his upper lip that he paints green and has a terrible 80's movie Russian movie villain accent. Constantine is brilliantly performed by Matt Vogel, who is the MVP of this film. Of course, The Muppets have not noticed Kermit has been replaced, all except Animal. ( no one believes or understands him.)

Kermit ends up in a Russian gulag ran by the ruthless Nadia (Tina Fey-- who can sing!) and filled with cameos. (Seriously, don't blink during this film. You will miss a big star with a one liner cameo.)

As the film paces on (at a breakneck speed) more and more crimes are being committed at the same time and place The Muppets are performing. (Berlin, Dublin, Spain) Ricky Gervais, who plays Constantine's number two, and the evil little frog are committing and stealing things galore. Gervais is hilarious as a tour manager for our fuzzy group, who secretly is trying to frame them for all this mischief. 

Ty Burrell as an Interpol agent, and Sam (the American) Eagle as a CIA agent, join forces and bump heads the entire film to find out "who did it." Burrell is great as an Inspector Clouseau-type. Sam is great as a bird.

In the mean time, Piggy gets one of her biggest dreams to come true: to sing a ballad with Celine Dion. (Which I'm sure we will hear at the Oscars next year.) Rizzo and Robin walk away with the biggest laughs in the film. (People applauded at my screening after hearing his line.)  More classic Muppet gags are found and callbacks to their other movies are had too. 

The film's climax takes place in London and is suspenseful. It's the most action I've ever seen in a Muppet movie. (Kermit dangling from a helicopter?! A wedding?! Fozzie poses as a bearskin rug?!) The film ends happily and everyone is together again.  Again. 

This film is the funniest Muppet film I have seen to date. 2011's " The Muppets" was funny and full of nostalgia to remind people of these characters while introducing them to new fans. Now that we have that out of the way, let's cut the Muppets loose and let them do what they do best: put on a show. The rip roaring, laugh out load fest is just under 2 hours, but it flies by. 

Director James Bobin knows exactly how to treat these characters as does screenwriter Nicholas Stoller. I consider "The Great Muppet Caper" to be "the crown jewel" of Muppet films. This comes very close. This film has Jim Henson's texture and feel all over it. I wouldn't be surprised to learn he came back and made it himself.

If you're having doubts about seeing this consider this: I was seated next to another blogger complaining that Muppets were too "cute" and "not very funny" and he didn't want to be there. By the film's second act he was laughing so hard he was crying and snorting. That was not "cute."

I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. Now, hurry up. Go see it. They've made a sequel. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Muppets Most Wanted Film Review

Mitchell Stein- Jumping right back on the big-screen after the tremendous success of their last film, The Muppets return once again to movie theaters with an all-new absoloutley brilliant adventure. I honestly can’t contain all my positive thoughts in just one review article, but I’ll do my best to keep it short. I won’t spoil anything for you of course, so don't worry, this review is completely spoiler free. Unless you're worried about finding out if it was any good. 

Thank goodness for us, just moments after their last film, The Muppets are renewed for a sequel. The furry freaks break out into a rousing musical number about their new film, and how sequels don’t quite live up to their predecessors. This song does not just break the fourth wall, it completely demolishes it! This broken fourth wall effect remains throughout the entire film, and the Muppets are constantly making references to their older films and they even poke fun at them! This is the Muppets humor at its absolute best.

The human cast is incredibly brilliant. There was some dispute over Ricky Gervais playing the main human role, with one side in favor of Gervais and the other against, but I can assure the latter group that at no time does Ricky take over and make his own film, he’s really just there to move the story along a lot faster with a brilliant sense of humor. In fact, I was super excited when he was cast in this movie. I was a fan of Ricky Gervais a while before this film, and he plays his part so well, has a splendid singing voice, and dances! Dance monkey, dance!

Tina Fey does an excellent job at playing Nadya, a Russian gulag prison guard who kind of ends up having a thing for Kermit. She’s funny, but at no time is this movie about her, the humans really do help things speed along in these films, and Ty Burrell (well known as Phil Dunphy on ABC’S Modern Family) plays Jean-Pierre Napoleon, an Interpol agent working alongside Sam the Eagle in this crime case that the Muppets end up getting tied into. Burrell easily steals the show out of the three main human actors, delivering the most comedic slapstick moments and great one-liners. This cast is easily my favorite human cast in a Muppet movie. The celebrity cameos are fantastic in this film, but they at no time steal the stage from the Muppets. The cameos which I least expected to like were by far my favorite, and the ones I was looking most forward to wasn’t really as much as expected, and some were even cut from the film!

Not even just human cameos, but the Muppet cameos are incredible! I won’t spoil the surprises, but I will say that I was super excited to see some characters after many years off the screen. There are some characters that I was never expecting to see ever again, and some of them only appeared in one Muppet production. If you thought the last movie had fantastic obscure Muppet cameos, prepare yourself for even more obscure characters. There’s less than in the last film, but the ones that can be found are fantastic and really, really obscure. I love it. 

I can understand why some people prefer the last film over this movie. The last movie was really all about the nostalgia. It looked back at the Muppets and paid tribute to the Muppets past productions and successfully rebooted the franchise. While the last movie was about looking at the past, this movie turns around and moves towards the future of the Muppet franchise. I admit, I got a little teary eyed at the end of the last film the first time, (I’m waiting for the Muppets to induct me as a Muppet too. Lucky Walter.) and of course during the “Rainbow Connection” scene (which Muppet fan didn’t?), but if they continue to look at the past the franchise will move nowhere. They have to push ahead and come up with a lot more wackier storyplots and keep people interested. This movie won’t make you cry, and it’s really not trying to. It’s another very Muppety adventure starring the Muppets as the main stars! It’s a great adventure and there’s just so much happening in it that it requires multiple viewings.

Some people are concerned about the film’s running time. At 113 minutes, Muppets Most Wanted marks the longest Muppet movie in history, but to be honest, doesn’t feel a moment too long. At no time did I start nudging around in my seat, or at all bored. This is easily the most jam-packed Muppet movie and it all moves so quickly, it’s so much fun. 

Not only is the humor and story a lot of fun, but the cinematography in this film is by far the most advanced puppetry to ever be seen in a Muppet movie, and probably in any puppet-related production for that matter. You’re drawn into this world where you just completely forget that they’re puppets at all, and they do such incredible things which some of them you’ve probably seen in the trailers. It’s fantastic, kudos to the entire special effects crew. The only thing that kind of bugged me was a terrible green-screen effect near the end of the movie. You’ll know when you see it, it’s impossible to miss.
Other than that, this movie deserves an Oscar for Best Visual Effects in the 2015 Academy Awards. I’ll flip over a table if it’s doesn’t get a mention at the Oscars.

The soundtrack is great! I’m not going to go into detail of every song, but from the moment Kermit strums the strings to his banjo to “We’re Doing a Sequel” which is so catchy and so hilarious. The extended version of the song can be heard on the movie’s soundtrack which became available on March 18th.  “I’m Number One” is catchy and I feel like dancing every time I hear it. “I’ll Give You Anything You Want/Cuckoo in Malibu” is perfect and sounds like an 80’s style romantic disco song, which is really what it’s set to feel like, but it’s much better than the last film’s “Me Party” scene. It’s just perfect. “Something so Right” is a beautiful slow song sung by Miss Piggy and Celine Dion, it’s so perfect that I hope this makes it into the mainstream media and becomes the next “Skyfall” for a couple of months. I hope Celine Dion has that star-power.

There’s just so much to say about this movie, there’s just so many things that Muppet fans will go crazy for. There’s so many callbacks to original films, Muppet cameos, and every Muppet is in-character and hilarious. The action is incredible and was not something I would find in a Muppet movie, especially the fact that the stars are puppets. Filming a James Bond action type sequence with the Muppets was not something I expected.

Because I’m worried that if I keep talking I’ll probably end up spoiling it for you, I’ll wrap it up here. I’ll just let it be known once more that I was not disappointed at all, I was just left wanting so much more, I didn’t want it to end, but of course, all great things must come to an end, and an ending that will make Muppet fans jump out of their seats in happiness. I did not see that coming, as I avoided all spoilers in the past few months. I was just disappointed that many scenes had to be cut due to time, and some were so heavily used in the trailers that I was looking forward to some of those. I really hope those make it to the Blu-Ray release. 

That’s all I’ll say for now. If you enjoyed the last film or are a die-hard Muppet fan like myself, you’ll be entertained throughout the entire feature. It’s a great new Muppet adventure and I hope they continue making many more movies.

If that’s not enough, the movie has a short featuring the Monsters University characters named Party Central which is really funny and sets the stage well for the feature to come. You really get a bang for your buck when you pay to see Muppets Most Wanted in theaters. 

Muppets Most Wanted opens in North America on March 21st 2014.

Our other half of The Mickey Mindset, Ryan Dosier wrote his review on our sister site, The Muppet Mindset. Read his review right here! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #22: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Disney Movie Review: 22/53 - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Ryan Dosier - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is an adorably delightful collection of previously released Winnie the Pooh short subject cartoons released by Disney. The film was compiled and released (with some new interstitial material) in 1977. Although it is, at its core, a collection of shorts, the film is still wonderful and charming.

The cast of characters in this film based on A.A. Milne’s work is now iconic, mostly because of this film. Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood are some of the most beloved characters Disney has ever drawn—and with good reason. Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and the rest are all joyful, fun, innocent characters that are a delight to watch.

It’s hard to pick a favorite character or story in this wonderfully episodic piece. All of them are animated wonderfully, voiced wonderfully, and just plain wonderful. I’m partial to the “wise” Owl and the “smart” Rabbit, but again, I enjoy them all so much. Piglet is especially funny in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and is a definite highlight.

I also love the music in this film. Adorable songs like “Rumbly in My Tumbly” (almost typed Rumbly in My Tumblr), “I’m Just a Rain Cloud,” and “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” are catchy classics. It’s hard not to love this movie with songs and characters that are so well done.

But as is the case with any “package film” like this, some of the shorts are weaker than others. The “Blustery,” “Rainy,” and “Snowy” Day shorts are absolutely wonderful, but the shorts involving Rabbit and Tigger lost in the woods and Pooh and the Heffalumps are rather weak in comparison—and much, much shorter as well. Thankfully, there are enough quality shorts to give each of the colorful Milne characters time to shine.

My favorite short is when Pooh finds himself too fat to get out of Rabbit’s house and everyone must wait until he thins out to pull him free. This is the first short and it introduces us to Pooh’s world in a hilarious fashion. It also introduces the character of Gopher, who was invented by Disney, not Milne. Gopher often comments how “I’m not in the book!” and it’s a lovely break of the fourth wall that I really appreciate.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh may not be the most impressive Disney animated feature, but what it is is positively wonderful. Somehow it all works making it two great successes in a row for Disney animation.

3.5/5 Heffalumps and/or Woozles

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks Blu-Ray Review

Mitchell Stein- Released yesterday on Blu-Ray, Saving Mr. Banks tells the true story of how Walt Disney wooed P.L. Travers to the rights of her book, Mary Poppins to create the famous film adaption. Mary Poppins is well known for its music, special effects and it’s heartfelt story. 
Saving Mr. Banks shows us the entire journey up until the movie started going into production. Oddly enough, the story seems to end before the filming takes place, but this movie really just offers a “behind-the-scenes” look at what it took just to receive the rights, and it’s quite an exciting journey.

The film’s cast is brilliant. While Tom Hanks may not look a lot like Walt Disney, the spirit of Walt lives on. In fact, there’s a sequence where Tom plays a scene from an actual Walt Disney clip word for word, and he does a spot-on impression of it, he’s a really fantastic actor and I can’t think of anyone better to play the role of Walt.

Emma Thompson steals the stage with her performance of the troubled and unhappy P.L. Travers. The story not only circulates around Travers, but it also offers flashbacks at Travers’s early life, and shows us her troubled childhood, and why she is unhappy with some of the things today.
The film’s detail is fantastic. How many people would have noticed Walt’s Smoke Tree Ranch tie clip on his tie? There’s many elements of the film’s set design that really speak to the die-hard Disney fans like myself. From the vintage items in Walt’s office to the detail in 1960’s Disneyland, The detail is just incredible and I applaud the film’s set design department. 

As for the Blu-Ray release, I have to say I am shocked at the lack of bonus features to be found. When the film tells the in-depth story of the creation of Mary Poppins, the Blu-Ray bonus features barely give any insight into the creation or during the filming of Mary Poppins.

The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to Present offers a look at the famed Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank and looking back to what it was like during the filming of Mary Poppins in the 1960’s. There’s also Deleted Scenes and Let’s Go Fly A Kite, which shows the cast and crew break out into a chorus of the popular Mary Poppins song on the last day of filming. It’s fun, but doesn’t really make up for the lack of bonus features. 

Overall, the film is great and the features could’ve used some more peeks at what it took to bring Poppins to the big screen, or even some behind the scenes look at the making of Saving Mr. Banks, especially with the amount of detail that went into the film. What usually pushes me to buy the Blu-Ray over the DVD version is when the Blu-Ray has a lot more bonus features. I was pleased incredibly with the film, but I was disappointed in the amount of bonus features.  Hopefully this will be corrected when the film is re-released in a couple of years.

Saving Mr. Banks is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Copy

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NEWS UPDATE: March 18th 2014

We don't generally schedule two Weekly News Updates in one week, but lots of brand-new exciting news announced this week, it would not be appropriate to address these super exciting announcements.

First off, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that sequels are in the works for Cars and The Incredibles at today's Disney Shareholders Meeting. No other info was included, but he did confirm that director Brad Bird is back at the helm for the second installment, and we can only speculate that the second film may pick up exactly where the first one left off. No release dates were released, but the earliest possibilities for these films would probably be 2017. 
Also announced was a basic time-line for Disney's next Star Wars film set to be released in 2015. Iger explained that the new film will take place 30 years after the Return of the Jedi film and would include familiar faces as well as new characters. We're bummed out this probably means no Yoda, but still, we're get excited. 

Disneyland Shanghai is set to open next year and a feature announced today was a "Pirates of the Caribbean" themed land named Treasure Cove along with the Pirates attraction, named "Battle of the Sunken Treasure" based off of all the films. The fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie is also set to release 2015.
Concept art

The next legendary D23 Expo, was officially announced! The dates for the bi-annual event will be from August 14th-16th 2015. Advance tickets will go on sale on August 14th 2014 (a whole year in advance) and will be available for purchase on D23Expo.com. 

Marvel is airing an exciting special tonight, named Assembling a Universe, which will offer lots of behind the scenes looks at Marvel films and sneak peeks at upcoming movies including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even The Avengers: Days of Ultron. Be sure to watch it. It's at 8/7c on ABC, which is normally the time-slot for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad reopened this week at Disneyland California after some renovation. We haven't had a chance to head down there ourselves to check it out, but Inside the Magic has, and they have a great new review on the latest update. 

Disney's Maleficent, an upcoming movie telling the story of the famous Disney villain released another trailer today. For the past few days, the Twitter account (@Maleficent) urged everyone to follow before it was too late. The Twitter account went private two days ago, and only previous followers can now see the tweets. The account was releasing new photos and videos to it's followers and they were the first to see Maleficent's "wings". 

The crew of Frozen went to visit the truly brilliant Hotel De Glace (Ice Hotel) in Quebec City, Canada. The Hotel had a special Frozen section built in celebration of the movie, and you can see video right here: 

Speaking of Frozen, you can now purchase the film on Blu-Ray Combo Pack along with Saving Mr. Banks, The Jungle Book 2, Doc McStuffins: DocMobile, and the Muppets Most Wanted soundtrack. Your wallets are about to get lighter. 

And what is in quite shocking news this week, a fish tank suddenly busted open in Downtown Disney's T- Rex Restaurant in Walt Disney World. The pipe had a rather large amount of water pouring out into the restaurant, and officials are still trying to figure out what caused the crack in the tank. You can watch an Instagram video of the leak here. Things did not go swimmingly (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist that pun). 

The Pirate Fairy an all new adventure from Disney's Fairies franchise features actor Tom Hiddleston, and a clip of Hiddleston voicing Hook was released a few days ago. See it below! 

Guests staying at Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii were treated to a special screening of the movie with an appearance by Mae Whitman and producer Jenni Magee Cook! The Pirate Fairy will be available on April 1st 2014.

With Muppets Most Wanted coming out THIS Friday, we've got all the latest Muppet news covered in today's Muppet News Update on our sister site, The Muppet Mindset. Keep checking back for the latest news! 

That's all for this week! Have a magical week!