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Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Backstage > Teens > Gospel > Urban > Drama > Dance > Ballet > History > Disney’s Let It Shine (DVD)/LOL (Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Never Stand Still (First Run DVD/all 2012)

Disney’s Let It Shine (DVD)/LOL (Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Never Stand Still (First Run DVD/all 2012)


Picture: C+/B-/C+     Sound: C+/B/C+     Extras: C-/C-/C     Main Programs: C-/C-/B-



The performing arts can be a great thing, but sometimes they are sold short and the results can be lame.  Let’s look at two examples on how this can go wrong and then see the work it takes to make them really work.



Disney’s Let It Shine (2012) is their latest attempt to do a musical with dancing and singing… well, sort of.  This is the company’s attempt to jump on the Tyler Perry bandwagon by making this Gospel/Urban romp an all tween/teen affair, but as always, the only things street about this only resemble Sesame Street.


Tyler James Williams’ plays a young man named DeBarge (all thiiiiiiis love is waiting for you) who plays in the church by day, but also wants to get involved with other music, especially when a pop singer Coco Jones) introduces him to a new rhythm of the night.  And a contest is taking place where all performing hope the judges will say “I Like It!”


We’ll, I didn’t like it because I never believed it.  The singing-at-people strategy is always annoying and resembles an old Pringles TV ad.  This is technically a backstage musical, but the idea that the male and female leads have music that is that different and only if they unite their music can they unite is very weak here.  Yes, the cast has some talent, but it is too straight-jacketed (you don’t wear it well) and this is so precalculated that Texas Instruments might sue for copyright infringement.  Shine hardly does and is worth skipping.  An extra music scene and Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices are the only extras.



Even worse is the fallen Disney Angel (some say devil) Miley Cyrus (well, let’s blame her dad too) trying a turn at dramatic acting (OK… HEY!!!... Stop laughing!   No, your going to hurt yourself.  Wait ‘til your stomach hurts.) in Lisa Azuelos’ really, really bad LOL (2012) with Demi Moore (yes, it gets worse) as her free-wheeling mother where Cyrus’ character gets involved with several guys who are “cute” (read made to be as pretty as her and yes, we can see the make-up and unusually bright lighting on them, even at Cyrus’ expense; a female director showing her shallow hand) but it gets much worse.


No one talks like this (the director co-wrote the would-be screenplay) and this just gets worse and worse and worse, so much so that you cannot believe how bad, but definitely an early candidate for multiple Razzie Awards.  Cyrus was never that great (life father like daughter) and you will not find any real laughs or real anything else about this trainwreck.


Extras include three featurettes and a feature length audio commentary track (ugh!) by Director & Cast.



Finally we have a project that takes its audience seriously.  Ron Honsa’s Never Stand Still: Dancing At Jacob’s Pillow (2012) which tells us how a great generation of dancers, especially men, came out of the title locale created by the legendary classical dancer/choreographer Ted Shawn as a way for all dancers to find their way into the art.  However, he wanted to encourage more men to do so and in 1930 when the place was built, that was rare indeed.


Dancing is always considered (even to this day) a parlance of females only by stereotyped standards, but it turns out this has become a legendary Mecca and each year, they even have a festival for performers who live there with others as a functioning community.  It is one of the great untold stories of dance in America and worldwide, which is why even at a too-brief 74 minutes, Never Stand Still is a solid documentary on the subject, especially by and for people who take the art seriously and not just as a joke or commodity.


Extras include several performance clips, The Carter Family Farm at Jacob’s Pillow and an extended interview with Merce Cunningham.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on both DVDs are a little soft, but Still has an excuse for being a documentary with various location shots and understandable motion blur, while Shine is a studio effort and should look better than this.  The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on LOL is a little better by default, in part because it is the only one here on Blu-ray, but it can still look strained, have color limits and motion blur.


The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Shine is too much towards the front speakers and dialogue (and even vocals) too much in the center channel, so it is truly no better than lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Still, even when location audio limits are noticed.  That leaves the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on LOL which is not any kind of demo for a 7.1 sound mix by a longshot, but has a consistent soundfield, could have been a competent 5.1 mix and is a very unimaginative mix.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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