DVD Review: Happily N’ever After 2 – Snow White: Another Bite at the Apple

Hey all…

Every now and then I sit through a movie with my daughters and wonder why I just wasted that time in front of the television instead of spending time doing something else. Happily N’ever After 2 – Snow White: Another Bite at the Apple definitely gave me that feeling until about halfway through when it tried to redeem itself.

In the era when “making a sequel” seems to be in some cases simply “throwing something out there with a similar title and theme”, Lionsgate seems to have “thrown” Happily N’ever After 2 at the public without providing much reason to actually watch.

[rating:1/4]

In Fairy Tale Land, Mambo and Munk assist The Wizard in balancing good and evil. The Wizard watches the action through a cool magic mirror attached to a scale, and when things get out of balance, The Wizard adjusts so that things aren’t out of whack. Somehow, The Wizard seems to have gone on an eternal vacation and left his misfit assistants in charge, which never goes well.

Everyone of course knows about Snow White from the Disney version. The Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has a princess, a wicked Queen who believes she should be the most beautiful woman in the land, a group of strange short men who live together in the forest and work in a mine, and a poisoned apple. Happily N’ever After 2 takes it in a bit of a new direction to modernize the tale.

Old King Cole and his Queen Caroline do their best to raise their daughter, Princess Snow White, to be a kind and caring girl. But when Queen Caroline passes away while Snow White is just a child, she grows up to be a bit of a rebellious teen. She goes out on the town with her girlfriends, Little Bo Peep, Red Riding Hood, and Goldilocks, and really has distanced herself from the commoners of her land. To try and help his daughter become a better person, King Cole decides to get married to provide her with a new mother.

Well, step-mothers have a bad reputation, but Lady Vain takes it a bit too far with Rumpelstiltskin’s help. Using a poison apple that makes Snow White speak vicious gossip, Lady Vain forces her to run away from the kingdom to avoid all those people that she’s hurt with her words.

Snow White stumbles upon the Seven Dwarves, who knew Queen Caroline as a kind and helpful person. After hearing about Snow White’s problems in the kingdom, they decide to help Snow White become a better person by showing that people appreciate it if you really try to help them. Together they rebuild the Three Pigs’ houses and babysitting for all of Old Mother Hubbard‘s kids (it is a crowded shoe) and Snow White begins to see the light. But is it in time to save her father from the evil schemes of Lady Vain?

Up to the point where Snow White meets the Dwarves, I have to admit I didn’t really enjoy the movie. But as soon as she meets the Dwarves, the movie improved significantly. Is it enough to save the picture? Honestly, I don’t know. My two daughters, ages 4 and 8, enjoyed it. But I think older kids might be quite bored or worse, get the wrong idea about the “lessons” of the film.

In addition to the movie, there are three games as special features and a few trailers. Trailers include Happily N’ever After, Bob the Builder, Wolverine and the X-Men and others.

The games are of the standard DVD variety: simple arcade, counting, and memory games.

In “Snow White and the Great Hall” you use the arrow keys to travel down the Great Hall to smash the Mirror and free Snow White. Along the way, you have to block Rumpelstiltskin’s magic bolts. Rumpelstiltskin got me every time.

The “Bo Peep and the Sheep” is a form of memory game. You get to take a look at a picture and remember which of Bo Peep’s sheep has a pink bell. Then Mambo magically makes the bells disappear and you have to remember which sheep changed.

And the “Red Riding Hood Challenge,” you get to watch apples fall into Red Riding Hood’s basket, being careful to only count those apples that make it into the basket. When all the apples have fallen, you’re asked to select which number is the correct count.

All in all, I was disappointed in Happily N’ever After 2 – Snow White: Another Bite at the Apple. I can only really give it 1 out of 4 stars. Though my kids appreciated it, I wish that it had some of the fun of the first movie and less attitude this time around. If you’re interested, I recommend you check it out at your local video rental store before buying it outright.

–Fitz

p.s. If you must pick one of these up, I recommend the first one and not the sequel.

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DVD Review: Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective

Hey all…

When I first heard about Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective, I was very concerned. After Jim Carrey‘s hilarious turn as pet detective Ace Ventura back in 1994’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and again in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls in 1995, how could you introduce a kid movie into the series? Well, it turned it out it wasn’t as bad as I thought! (Not terrific, but not as bad as it might have been!)

[rating:2/4]

Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective features Josh Flitter as young Ace Ventura Jr., Emma Lockhart as his school-age crush Laura, and Austin Rogers as braniac A-Plus. Ace Jr. is of course afflicted with the Ventura curse — the need to help animals. As such, he is on the case when pets are disappearing from kids all around the school and for a string of famous pets goes missing, including a panda on loan from China. Ace’s mom (played by Ann Cusack), a trainer at the local zoo, is implicated in the disappearance and goes to jail… Who must save the animals and his mother? Ace Jr. of course!

Honestly this was a fun movie, especially for kids. Ace Jr. gets into and out of jams throughout the entire film, most of which involve animals. It was a good mix of slapstick and animal-related comedy.

You could tell Flitter had fun in the role as Ace Jr. He was in Nancy Drew as Corky Veinshtein with Emma Roberts back in 2007 and has done some voice-over work in Air Buddies, Snow Buddies, Horton Hears a Who!, and Space Buddies. He’s definitely a busy young teenager!

I found it interesting how they worked the Ace Ventura story into his background. Poor Ace is lost in the Bermuda Triangle it seems, but is in fact Ace Jr.’s dad. And Grandpa Ventura (Ralph Waite) came in to tell the lad of his family heritage. All of them had that weird hair disorder Ace suffered from, so it was kind of cute.

In addition to the movie, there are a ton of extras on the DVD.

The Gag Reel was actually amusing. Any time you have a movie with kids and animals, you’re going to have bloopers. Ace Jr. was no exception to the rule!

A number of Extended Scenes are also included. Most of them are pretty easy to see why they didn’t make the final cut, but a few are cute. There’s one with A-Plus and Ace Jr. in A-Plus’ secret lair in the school where A-Plus talks about his dad, a government agent, who disappeared at Roswell, NM. And another which looks like it should go at the end of the movie where Ace Jr. and Grandpa Ventura are asked by some Men In Black (MIBs) to help them with a missing animal case.

“Ace and His Animals” goes into detail about some of the many (and I do mean many) animals used in the making of the film. Everything from skunks and turtles, to monkeys, birds, cats, and dogs. Everyone involved in the film seemed to have a good appreciation for the animals, and the animal coordinator and trainer certainly had their hands full during filming!

“Ace Ventura Jr: The Inside Story” is a mockumentary, with interviews for a fake news channel (7 News) of various characters in the movie, including Russell Hollander (from the National Bureau of Fish & Wildlife), Pennington Jr. (classmate of Ace Jr.’s), Dr. Sickinger (scientist and main suspect in the missing panda case for most of the movie), Pennington Sr. (billionaire), and others. It’s actually quite a fun way to get a different view of Ace Jr.’s character.

“Austin and Emma” features Josh Flitter, Emma Lockhard, and Austin Rogers talking about working with one another and having fun. It appears they had a great chemistry on set.

“All Play and No Work” seems to be pretty much what the cast and crew did for the most part. The cast and crew filmed in Florida’s heat and humidity. The director, David M. Evans, really seemed to have a good connection with everyone and have fun along with them.

Finally “Now Introducing the Animals” is the obligatory “meet the animals” feature when doing a film with animals. The animal coordinator had his hands full between the kids playing with the animals and the animals themselves. They had quite an array, from rabbits and snakes, birds, and even an alligator.

And “Ox the Dog” focuses on Ace Jr.’s canine companion, Oxnard. His real name is Tyler, and he was in nearly every seen with Flitter. A very well behaved wire-haired terrier. All the cast seemed quite taken with the dog as more than just set dressing — as an actual pet actor! Even in wardrobe, he interacted with everybody to let the director get the shots he wanted.

I watched Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective with my two daughters (ages 4 and 8) and I think we all enjoyed it. We’ll give it a 2 out of 4 if you have kids… 1 out of 4 if you don’t. Be sure to check it out if you have kids who like animal movies!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick it up at your local rental store or at Amazon:

p.p.s. Don’t forget the classics with Jim Carrey!

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Book Review: The One and Only Marigold by Florence Parry Heide

Hey all…

As a father of two young girls, I’m always on the lookout for new childrens’ books. And that brought me to the wonderful book titled The One and Only Marigold by Florence Parry Heide. At age 89, Heide has written more books for kids than I can count. And helping her out on this book is illustrator Jill McElmurry, who has once again done some amazing work.

Marigold is a complicated little girl. (And as the father of two little girls, I can attest that most if not all little girls are complicated.) She has a few quirks. She has a unique way of expressing herself for her best friend – her purple coat – and her second best friend, Maxine. And she definitely has a few opinions about the way the world should work.

To say the least, there’s a lot about Marigold that made us all smile. My girls enjoyed the stories, and my wife and I had to chuckle a few times about similarities between Marigold and two other little girls we know.

The One and Only Marigold is a collection of four connected stories about Marigold.

“Marigold’s New Coat” explored the adventure Marigold and her mother had while searching for a new coat. This was not something Marigold wished to do, as she was very loyal to her old purple coat. and in the end, there was a compromise when she finally found a coat she could live with… once she accessorized properly of course.

Then in “Marigold’s New Hobby” we learned about a few of Marigold’s hobbies, including making lists of things. We really liked her lists of Favorite Foods (Popcorn sandwiches, chocolate-covered chocolate, and candy soup!) and her lists of things she would never eat (Jellyfish Soup, Worm Juice, and Fried Pimples – yuck!). But when it came to a list of her friends, her second best friend Maxine was not happy she was a notch below Marigold’s old purple coat.

In “Marigold’s Special Surprise Treasure Stand”, Marigold gets industrious to compete with her friend Maxine when Maxine opens a lemonade stand – and the “Every Package a Surprise” stand was born. For 5 cents, she’d give her customers a prettily wrapped box with a special surprise. Maxine was definitely surprised when she bought a few packages!

And finally, in “Marigold’s New Dress”, we learned that Marigold had quite a unique fashion sense and that Maxine was a very good friend. Of all the stories, this one was our favorite.

Heide and McElmurry have come up with a fun, unique character for The One and Only Marigold and I know everyone at my house hopes there are more adventures for the spunky little Marigold!

–Fitz

p.s. Be sure to check this out at your local bookseller or at Amazon!

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