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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animated > Children > Literature > Animals > Drama > Comedy. > Holiday > Religion > Telefilms > Babar & Father Christmas (E1 DVD)/Dear Santa (2011)/Money Matters (2009/Image DVDs)/The Perfect Gift (2011/Image DVD Set)/Thomas Kinkade Presents Christmas Lodge (2011/Vivendi DVD)

Babar & Father Christmas (E1 DVD)/Dear Santa (2011)/Money Matters (2009/Image DVDs)/The Perfect Gift (2011/Image DVD Set)/Thomas Kinkade Presents Christmas Lodge (2011/Vivendi DVD)

 

Picture: C (Money: C-)     Sound: C+ (Money: C)     Extras: C/D/D/C-/C-     Main Programs: C+/C-/D/C-/D

 

 

Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time of the year, but that does not always extend to video releases.  Not only is the best of the following five animated and for children (with the others often childish), but the live action offerings here are as fun as spilled eggnog.

 

 

The lone entry that manages to capture anything like that holiday spirit is Babar & Father Christmas on DVD with the title tale and two bonus half-hours in The Gift and A Child In The Snow from the original hand-drawn animated series.  These are smart, charming and child-friendly, good for the while family.  It may not be classic, but is just fine.  The 1.33 X 1 color image is a little softer than I would have liked for being remastered, so expect some strained images, aliasing and detail issues, but the Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is better.  A mini-coloring book is the only extra, though the package tries to do so with the other two episodes.

 

Much more of a strain overall is Jason Priestley’s Dear Santa (2011), the actor’s attempt to do a cutesy holiday telefilm about writing the big red guy with Amy Acker, David Haydn-Jones and Emma Duke that proves no one should ever send any letters to Santa at the 90210 zip code or watch this run-on bore.  It might have worked if they tried to do something fun, energetic or different, but it goes on and on and on.  There are no extras.

 

Ryan Richmond’s Money Matters (2009) is being issued during this holiday period despite having no direct such content, yet its melodrama or a mother and daughter (Aunjanue Ellis and Terri Abney) dealing with poverty, problems, distance and fake solutions never convinced me much and a fake sense of family that never works.  The actors are trying to make this work, but it never does.  The fact that a man is directing this does not help and it is forgettable.  There are no extras.

 

Almost as family-phony is Alvin Moore, Jr.’s The Perfect Gift (2011) with Ruben Studdard and Golden Brooks is a Tyler Perry-styled “feel good” morality play that also goes on and on and is not that memorable as a troubled couple are visited by their parents on the holidays.  I never bought it; though it had potential if had tried to go for something new.  No such luck.  Extras include two featurettes, Photo Gallery and bonus CD of the music.

 

Finally we have Thomas Kinkade Presents Christmas Lodge (2011) with his one lodge not worth staying at.  Erin Karpluk plays a woman at an old lodge who is alone until she meets a guy played by Michael Shanks who may just surprise her, but not us.  As flat, formulaic and dull as the last Kinkade release, I was not impressed.  Extras include Trailer, Painting Gallery and Making Of featurette.

 

All the live-action DVDs are here in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 frames that are too soft (even with “Christmassy style” in most cases) and have their share of motion blur, detail issues and Money is especially soft in this respect.  Kinkade has the biggest soundmix of the four with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but it is not better than the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the others and Money has especially weak playback audio, so be careful of the levels at which you play it save its so-so CD.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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