Save My Child
(1932/Warner Archive DVD)/Jasper
Jones (2016/Film Movement
DVD)/Lucan: The Complete
Series (1977 -
1978/MGM/Warner Archive DVD Set)/Paddington
2 (2017/Warner Blu-ray
w/DVD)/Sesame Street: Best
Of Elmo, Volume 4
Races: Start Your Engine!
(2017 revival/Season 1,
Volume 1/Warner DVD)
C/C+/C+/B & C/B/C+ Sound: C/C+/C+/B+ & C+/C+/C+
Extras: D/C-/D/C+/D/D Main Programs: C+/C/B-/B-/B/C+
our latest selection of child and family releases you should know
start with a comedy from an underrated director with a big comedy
star from back in the day, Joe E. Brown. Lloyd Bacon's Fireman
Save My Child
(1932) has a young Brown in this slapstick comedy as a great baseball
pitcher who has invented a baseball-shaped globe that can put out
fires! All you need to use it well is know how to throw a baseball
or softball. He's a goof, but likable, also working for the fire
department, thus his bright idea, but can a small town country guy
get his invention out there and be a success?
to the early 1980s, these fun little comedies (along with B-movie
comedy series, comedy shorts series like Laurel & Hardy, The
Three Stooges and Our Gang/The Little Rascals) were staples of
syndicated television since TV broke after WWII and this is the kind
of film that was shown often back in the day. Even the PBS series
At the Bijou
would show such a film, so it is a fun one to have in print and
thanks to Warner Archive, you can get it on DVD. DVD
was a big deal in his time, but if he's remembered now, it is for the
hit TV series Car
54, Where Are You?
(reviewed elsewhere on this site), but even that gem was not as
syndicated as it should have been. Still, you can see Brown's appeal
and he can carry the film and the comedy. No doubt he influenced
many other comics and I was surprised how many chuckles this one can
still deliver. There are also un intentionally funny items (the old
technology will at least make you smile) and it is worth a look. Too
bad there's no extras.
(2016) is a drama set in 1969 Australia where the title character
(Aaron McGrath, a man of color) is accused of a crime he did not
commit, can only turn to Charlie Bucktin (Levi Miller) for at least
understanding if not help as the 14-year-old has no power in the
matter and can the crime be solved before something else ugly
had a mixed reaction to this young-adult aimed production, a little
formulaic and a bit of a button presser, but the cast is trying and
is at least does not trivialize the issues it tries to address, but
it also does not do enough for them. Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving
help the film to the extent they can, but it was ultimately not too
memorable and too much like other such stories we've seen in this
vein. This is only for the most curious.
include a brief featurette with Cast/Crew interviews and the great
Tilda Swinton narrating the short film Death
For A Unicorn.
out officially on DVD is Lucan:
The Complete Series
(1977 - 1978) as yet another well made, well done TV show that should
have been a hit from back in the 1970s, but unfortunately was not.
Roughly inspired by a true story and Truffaut's feature film Wild
the title character is a young male child found in the wilderness
miraculously alive, in part because he fell in with a pack of wolves
who take him in as he becomes one of them. Unlike Tarzan where he
gets back to civilization and finds out he is part of some upper
British class, Lucan (cast and played very well by Kevin Brophy) as
he has named himself, is determined to find out who he is, where he
comes from, who his parents are and leave no stone unturned in doing
so. Unfortunately, a crime as a government lab is blamed on him and
is chased and is on the run throughout the series.
gets help from a friend (John Randolph of Seconds)
any way he can, but a mad government official (Don Gordon playing up
the angry authority figure) is convinced Lucan did it and is going to
get him at all costs. The show (produced by MGM Television) might
also remind some of the original Kung-Fu
(noble connected-to-nature lead) and The
Six Million Dollar Man
in a good way with its labs, secrets and ideas of a man becoming more
than he is, but it is trying to be original where it can be and for
smart young adults, et al.
a shame it was given up on, not renewed or even put on late Saturday
Morning where so many animated and live action shows made
specifically for that day (which used to be a TV bonanza for viewers)
with hits shows in reruns (The
was one of the shows that got this rerun treatment). The series
never found a following despite the top rate efforts of all involved,
or a cult or fan following like it should have.
is why I am very happy Warner Archive finally issued it in a quality
DVD set, proving once again what a golden age 1970s TV really was.
Brophy would have been a big star had this hit, but it was not to be.
Oddly, no one has talked about remaking this one yet, though it is
at the age that would make some kind of sense to do so. I wonder if
they could do half as well, though. Either way, all 12 episodes
(including the telefilm pilot) are here and it is all worth your
show also boasts some great guest stars including Ned Beatty, Diana
Muldaur, Stockard Channing, Lou Frizzell, Stephanie Zimbalist, Paul
Hecht, Brian Dennehy, Leslie Nielsen, Elisha Cook Jr., Percy
Rodriguez, Woodrow Parfrey, Henry Jones, Barry Sullivan, James B.
Sikking, Frank Campanella, Pamela Franklin, Shelley Fabares, Celeste
Holm, John Larch, Claudia Jennings, Cameron Mitchell, Robbie Rist,
Robert Reed and Regis Philbin.
are very sadly no extras, but this show deserves a few.
(2017) is the hit sequel to the original hit live action/CGI feature
film that did well in the U.S. and even better overseas. The lovable
character (voiced by Ben Whishaw, 'Q' in the Daniel Craig James Bond
films) gets a decent script, still has points of his origins dealt
with and goes on a new adventure to give a gift to his Aunt Lucy
(voiced by the great Joanna Lumley) who is turning 100 years old!
enjoy how casually funny and imaginative the film can be, the
live-action actors up for anything, how the humor is very accessible,
yet does not give up any of its Britishness, which only adds to its
authenticity and charm. Hugh Grant chews the scenery as the villain,
going all out, while Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Hugh Bonneville,
Jim Broadbent and Brendan Gleeson (in one form or another) offer
additional top-rate support to keep the 104 minutes flowing with
energy and amusement. My only complaint is that some jokes fall flat
or do not work, but most of this child-friendly romp delivers and is
worth your (family's) time.
include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other
cyber capable devices, while the discs add a Music Video and several
Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes.
is red, furry, cute and friendly? Elmo is! Elmo is back and ready
to sing songs, dance, tell stories, and make friends in Sesame
Street: Best Of Elmo, Volume 4.
Along with his Sesame Street friends and special guests they
entertain and teach kids about life and fun facts, anything from ABCs
to zoo's and animals.
you may know, Elmo is a small furry big hit character of Sesame
Street, but over the last few years since the huge-selling
Tickle-Me-Elmo toy, has gained a following of new fans. Elmo often
sings and dance, ask silly questions and is a little naive, but it is
because of that kids can relate to Elmo in having fun and laughs.
Elmo is like a younger version of Grover, yet with more energy and
is another 2 hours of shorts skits from various Elmo scenes in Sesame
while some of the newer scene involve CGI and other computer
graphics, there are also older shows of Elmo which need no extra
special effects. Sesame
has been the heart of children's educational TV show and for years
gave fun and entertainment mixed with learning and education to the
children of the world. Extras include a full episode of Elmo's
and animated storybook 'Elmo Loves You!'
we have Wacky
Races: Start Your Engine!,
a 2017 revival of the 1970 hit TV show that brought together several
characters from the Hanna-Barbera TV universe of the time in a car
race show that did its best to emulate the likes of It's
A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
(1963, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and its many imitators.
Problems include that these are now characters (Penelope Pitstop,
Dastardly, Mutley, etc.) that have been seen too little in years, as
is the case with their original, individual shows and the series this
should also note that there are original characters then and now, but
the original show was not as fun all the time as it could have been
despite being a big hit and characters like Mutley suffered the most
(but not Dastardly for some reason) being lost among the cast. The
show is not bad and might spark an interest in the older shows long
on DVD (but yet to be issued on Blu-ray), yet I was disappointed the
writers did not try something a little bit new at least to make these
shows fresher and play it so safe. The result is a curio at best and
this set has no extras.
1.33 X 1 black & white image transfer on Fireman
can show the age of the materials used, still watchable, but a bit
rough in spots and could use some restoration. Otherwise, it looks
good and holds up for its age.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Paddington
is obviously the top performer here being the only Blu-ray and it
looks fine for a live-action/CGI combo production, especially shot in
the digital era, but the makers have more visually smart ideas that
work and it is a plus for the film. The
anamorphically enhanced DVD is softer than expected, so only expect
so much from it. The Jasper
DVD has the same aspect ratio as Paddington,
but its DVD looks better and not bad for an HD shoot.
1.33 X 1 color image on all Lucan
episodes are decent for the most part, but some footage looks a
little rough or off more than I would have liked. Yet, this is the
best the show has looked to date.
rest of the DVDs are in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image
framing and are fine, with Elmo
coming out on top for whatever reasons.
for sound, the Paddington
Blu-ray wins again with a surprisingly good Dolby Atmos 11.1 mix
(Dolby TrueHD on older home theater systems) that is creative and
active throughout with good sound design and sound editing. The
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD version does not stand a chance in
comparison, but will do for what you get.
lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Fireman
is down a generation and a bit rough, but is passable as well, but be
careful of high playback levels and volume switching. Lucan
has the same kind of Mono sound, but fares better being a newer
production and the sound elements being in better shape.
leaves the rest with lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0
Stereo (or both) and they are just fine for what that old sound codec
can deliver, but a lossless codec would have worked better in all
order either of the Warner Archive DVDs, Lucan
go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases
Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Elmo)