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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Fantasy > Cooking > Fairies > TV > Satire > Spoof > British > CGI > Evolution > Stuffed Animals > Mu > Butterbean's Cafe (2019/Nickelodeon DVD)/Child's Play (1954/Holy Terrors/Juno/MVD DVD)/Missing Link (2019/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/UglyDolls (2019/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)

Butterbean's Cafe (2019/Nickelodeon DVD)/Child's Play (1954/Holy Terrors/Juno/MVD DVD)/Missing Link (2019/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/UglyDolls (2019/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)

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

Here are the latest children/family releases...

Butterbean's Cafe (2019) is a much-needed new show from Nickelodeon arriving for the first time on DVD, seven episodes (including a longer debut) has the cast of fairy (all female) opening up a bakery and that turns out to be tougher than they imagined. It is an amusing idea, but the writers keep it simple enough for its young audience, so don't expect anything too complex.

The use of color is not bad, if not spectacular, but the show eventually settles into its own formula and we'll see if they play it safe or try something more in future shows. There are no extras on the discs, but our copy included four food recipes on two full color cards.

Margaret Thompson's Child's Play (1954) has nothing to do with the killer doll movie series, but is a British comedy about a group of children who try to make an atom bomb. An Attempt to launch some kind of franchise similar to The Little Rascals/Our Gang, the kids here are dubbed The Holy Terrors, but it just did not take hold.

Now, Juno Selects has issued this film on DVD in the U.S. and it is not bad, but not funny enough overall to be the anchor of any series, though it does have a few amusing moments and a cast that is not bad. They have a limited budget, but put it to good use.

Though we get no extras, this is a curio for some because this is the first feature film of the great, now legendary British actress Anneke Wills, who we were lucky enough to interview a few years ago at this link...


She was only 11 years old when she made this and it has been turning up on TV in the U.KJ., so she let her fans know this is one of her favorite early roles and though she did turn up in many feature films, she really made it big as a TV icon working on some of the greatest shows in U.K. history. You may find it funny and so may any children you know, so try it out if so inclined.

We conclude with two CGI animated theatrical feature films that had mixed box office results, but tried to do something different. Missing Link (2019) has Hugh Jackman voice a British traveler seeking adventure and discovery in other parts of the world, when he runs into the title character (Zack Galifainakis, who happens to speak) who calls himself Mr. Link! From there, you get some of the usual jokes, but the surprise is they become friends and even more surprising is how ri9ch this is with a British atmosphere and other Britishisms that you would not see hardly anywhere else.

Unfortunately, while escaping being a one-joke release, it stays on the course it takes and while it is amusing at times, does not try to be much funnier than subtly so. At least it does not insult the audience much, especially children, but there is more to do here (guess they were hoping for a sequel, so you never know) and other voice talents that help out include Emma Thompson, Steven Fry, Zoe Saldana and Timothy Olyphant.

Extras (as the press release explains) include an audio commentary by Chris Butler, Creating Mr. Link, Bringing the Final Battle on the Ice Bridge to Life, Animation Inspiration w/optional Commentary by Chris Butler, VFX Breakdown Reel - Realizing the Potential of Stop Motion, Oh What a Mystery: Pulling the Camera Back on Missing Link's Magic, Making Faces, Inside the Magic of Laika and Gallery x 24 Images.

Finally, based on the toy line, UglyDolls (2019) takes us into the world of stuffed animals and how some became the title characters, but this one tries to be a musical with a story by Robert Rodriguez, though others try to supply the music. The results, though visually colorful, are very mixed and do not add up like they might have had the release not tried to go so overboard.

The voice cast includes Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monae, Blake Shelton, Gabriel Iglesias, Wanda Sykes, Bebe Rexha, Emma Roberts and Pitbull, so that is an interesting mix that you might not see live action. Like all the unusual combinations of ideas, we just do not get the synergy we should have and it is not from not trying, but maybe some script changes, reconsideration of some or all of the songs (none stuck with me) and maybe a few voice cast changes could have made a difference. Instead, you get a curio sure to get a few talking, but this is a long 88 minutes.

Extras on this Sing-Along Edition (per the press release) include a Sing Along Tease - A small taste of the big fun the Sing-Along Edition provides, Fun with the Cast of UglyDolls - Watch the cast of UglyDolls play fun games that showcase their unique talents, Making UglyDolls - A closer look at the music behind the film and the talented voice cast that brings these rich characters to life and Theatrical Trailers.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Cafe and the 1.33 X 1 black & white image transfer on Child's Play look good for the format, but the sound (lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on Cafe, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Child's Play) are a little lower and weaker than expected, so be careful of high playback volumes and volume switching.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 32.5 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer on Link and 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on UglyDolls on their respective Blu-rays are the playback champs here and look good enough that you wonder why there is no 4K version of either. Their anamorphically enhanced DVD versions are not bad and as good as the other DVDs here, but can pale in comparison to the Blu-ray versions.

Link may offer Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 on older systems) versus a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on UglyDolls, but they are even in playback quality, suggesting the former was not necessarily considered for such 12-track treatment during production. Their DVD versions both offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes that are better than the stand-alone DVD releases here, but they both sound limited versus their lossless Blu-ray versions, more tracks or not.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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