Written by: Flip Kobler, Cindy Marcus, Bill Motz and Bob Roth
Directed by: Andy Knight
Starring: Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, Haley Joel Osment, Paul Reubens and Angela Lansbury
- Music Video for "As Long as There's Christmas" by PLAY
- Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
- Forte's Challenge Game
- Enchanted Environment--fireplace feature
- Disney's Song Selection
Released by: Buena Vista Home Video
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format
My Advice: Buy it if you have kids, otherwise, skip it
I guess this movie was made before Disney completely went bankrupt in the imagination department. This is actually a really clever little story. Of course, it doesn't really hurt to have almost all of the original cast back in the roles that they created. Half of what makes these late 90s Disney animated movies work is the fact that they didn't sell the production short with the level of talent they hired to tell it. The music might not be as memorable as the original production, but at least the songs aren't so bad as to leave you moaning every time you hear a music cue coming on. O'Hara and Benson used the relationship they created for the original Beauty and the Beast in order to tell this particular Christmas story. Also, all the little jokes that are place intermittently throughout the story are very cute indeed (the fact that all the wine glasses are very "whiny" children just brought a grin to my face).
The filmmaking lesson to take away from this movie is that the good writing, a cast that truly acts as an ensemble and a focus on telling the story makes all the difference in the world.
This DVD has a little something for everyone--but just a little. The behind the scenes featurette has interviews with the cast, crew and musicians--but that's only the beginning of the material. Like the Matrix DVD, this featurette has a "Click the Mouse" feature that allows you to dig a little deeper into the behind the scenes stuff. That's about all there is for the grown-ups.
What remains is the stuff that is targeted for the little ones. First of all, there's "Forte's Challenge" that has you using your DVD remote to pick out the notes on Forte's organ keyboard and play the music presented to you. This is really quite difficult and, because DVD menus are not designed for "game playing", it will probably lose your child's attention after the first note gets played. There are three Christmas melodies to choose from and each one will take you about three minutes to get through, and the only thing you get for playing it correctly is the entire song played on the organ for you. Wow. There are two "Enchanted Environments" to choose from, and if you've seen Widge's review of Happy Holiday Hearth, this is pretty much what you get. There are options to watch a digital fire burn in a fireplace with either sound effects, music, or both. I equate this really to watching paint dry. It really feels like they were scratching their heads over at Disney for stuff to put on this DVD.
Then there's the music video for the song "As Long As There's Christmas" by "pop sensation" PLAY. All this really boils down to is one of the best original songs in the movie sung really badly through the noses of some pubescent teenage girls. The kiddos might love it, but I have to admit that I have not heard of "pop sensation" PLAY outside of their performance on this DVD. I also speculate that this will not change that much as time goes by. The last two features on this DVD are kind of the same. Let me see if I can differentiate them for you. You have the option to watch the movie with the lyrics to all the songs popping up on the screen to allow you to sing along with them as they happen. The other option lets you jump directly to the songs either with or without the built-in karaoke machine option.
So, if you've got young ones, this DVD should really be on your shelf, but only for the movie, and not the special features. But if you are kidless, then be this movie-less as well.