‘Jane the Virgin’: Time to Catch Up Before Season Two Premieres

About a year ago, I was out driving and heard a radio spot for a new TV show on The CW: A virgin discovers she’s pregnant. Hilarity ensues? This should be worth an episode of amusement, but not much more, I thought. And then Jane the Virgin turned out to be my television obsession for the next 22 episodes.

Not because it’s hilarious—which it is. Not because of the absurdly charming narrator—which it has. And not because of the occasional glimpse of Justin Baldoni’s abs—though I can’t say that hurts. But it’s a little bit of all those things and so much more. I’d say it’s that je ne sais quoi, but for this pseudo-telenovela, perhaps un no sé qué would be more accurate.

If you still haven’t jumped into this stunningly different and charming show, here’s the scoop: Jane is indeed a virgin, waiting for marriage, which is coming soon with her fiancé Michael. Then due to walking in on her wife with another woman, her gynecologist is quite distracted on the day of Jane’s annual exam and accidentally inseminates her instead of another patient.  Continue reading ‘Jane the Virgin’: Time to Catch Up Before Season Two Premieres

A Crash Course in Charlie Brown In 1 DVD

It’s an awesome family movie night, Charlie Brown! Photo: Rachel Cericola.

Peanuts mania is coming.

Of course, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Pigpen, and the rest of the pals have been popular for well over half a century. However, the kids are about to reach out to a whole new generation, with the November release of The Peanuts Movie.

Whether you have a fan at home or want one, you can prep for the upcoming big-screen adventures with the new Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection DVD, which is coming out Tuesday, September 15.

Out of the five Halloweens my son has gone trick-or-treating, he’s dressed as Peanuts characters for two of them. We have Peanuts books, posters, figurines, stuffed animals, T-shirts, puzzles, DVDs, and more. Needless to say, he was very excited about the arrival of this double-disc DVD. However, he was also really surprised at how much he has missed.

Of course, we watch all of the Peanuts specials on broadcast TV—multiple times a year, as well as in the off-season. (Thank you, DVR!) If you’ve been watching, you’ll notice that for every viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas or It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, there’s a little bonus episode, which supersizes the experience to a full hour. Some of those extras are available on DVD releases, and at least one is featured here. However, this set mostly compiles some of the lesser-known episodes.

Photo: Warner Bros.

That’s not to say these aren’t popular episodes. In fact, every single one of the 11 specials included in this set was also an Emmy nominee, with a pair of winners in there as well. It’s not a comprehensive collection, since there are many other Emmy nominees in the Peanuts arsenal. After all, they probably need something for the next collection. Plus, we’re never going to get A Charlie Brown Christmas without paying a separate fee for it.

So, yes, some of them you may have seen before. My son informed me that She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown is currently paired up with the broadcast run of Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! He also said that You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown is a bonus feature on the DVD for You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown. (The kid really knows his Charlie Brown.)

However, a few of them he hasn’t seen, and offered some surprises. For instance, he was quick to point out that in a few of these specials, you actually see adult characters. Adults in a Peanuts cartoon? Say it ain’t so! Also, there are two specific specials that evolved into some great conversations—and it wasn’t just a bunch of mwah, mwah, mwah.

What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? was made for the 39th anniversary of D-Day, and discusses the historical event in great detail. It was one that my son knew little-to-nothing about, so this was a great springboard into the topic. Why, Charlie Brown, Why? has a main character dealing with cancer. This special was very serious and sometimes sad, but also took a slight edge off a topic that has touched our family (and just about every family we know).

On a less serious note, I had the hardest time explaining It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown. How does one explain poor fashion choices, dance steps, and hairdos?

Also worth noting is that Warner Bros. has “remastered” each of the specials, so you may notice a slight bump in video quality. I thought it offered a little boost over some of our VHS copies, but nothing outstanding. For that kind of bump, I’m guessing Warner Bros. would have to put these specials on Blu-ray. Something that is more noticeable is that each of these episodes doesn’t include the trademark Vince Guaraldi soundtrack. It’s absolutely noticeable here, but this is how they originally ran so many years ago.

I’ve been a fan of Charlie Brown long before my son came along. That rubbed off on him pretty quickly, though. He was into the cartoons and books before he could even say the names “Charlie Brown” and “Snoopy.” (For the longest time, he called them “Man” and “Fweet,” two names that are sorely missed.) From one Peanuts-loving family to another (or one that’s hoping to be), the Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is a must-have.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Monkeying Around With ‘Curious George 3’

My little monkey watching Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle. Photo: Rachel Cericola.

It’s hard to believe that a third Curious George movie was needed, but here we are—and we are extremely glued.

Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle is out today and it’s as cute and cuddly as ever. Long gone are the voices of Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore. However, our family is deeply involved with Frank Welker (George) and Jeff Bennett (The Man with the Yellow Hat), who have been voicing their respective characters since the PBS show launched back in 2006.

Despite the direct-to-video nature of this movie, Curious George 3 also includes the voices of John Goodman (who is extremely recognizable) and Angela Bassett (I was pleasantly surprised to see her in the credits!).

© Universal Pictures.

Although it took my son about 5 seconds to notice that the animation is a little different from the TV show, it didn’t seem to bother him. Curious George 3 is a fun little movie.

It’s really less about George being curious and more about him being in his natural habitat: the jungle. It’s hard to remember a time when George wasn’t flying kites, eating donuts, roller skating, and eating at Chef Pisghetti’s. However, in this 81-minute adventure, viewers get to see this good little monkey talk to animals (who aren’t Hundley) and swing from actual trees.

The Man with the Yellow Hat is the one who seems out of his element, riding a log flume and an ostrich. And spoiler alert, people: We actually learn the man’s name! Maybe I previously missed it, but I don’t ever remember it coming up before. I just always assumed that he didn’t have one.

It’s interesting how and why George ends up in the jungle due to a botched space mission. So you get the spacey atmosphere mixed in with the jungle for pretty complete adventure. It still isn’t as awesome as the first movie, but Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle is similar to an extended episode of the TV show. I can tell you that we were pretty riveted for the full runtime, with a request to watch the extras once the feature was over.

Speaking of which: The extras are pretty slim. It would have been cool if they put a few deleted scenes or even an episode of the PBS show on the disc, but there are four sing-along songs from the movie. This lineup includes “Welcome to Paradise” by the Plain White T’s. The full soundtrack should actually be available the same day as the movie.

And if your little one is still curious about Curious George, you can check out the clip and even work on some of the activity sheets listed below. There’s also a free Curious George photo app that’s now online, allowing you to photobomb George in scenes from the movie. Enjoy!

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Unboxing All 6 Blu-ray Editions of ‘The SpongeBob Movie’

There are six versions of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea and has six Blu-ray releases coming out today? Scream it with me: “SpongeBob SquarePants!!!”

We know SpongeBob is an icon and all that, but why are there six Blu-rays for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water? These aren’t separate covers for SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy, and Plankton. There’s a Blu-ray Combo Pack, the Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, and four retailer-specific versions.

Those four extra versions are exclusive to each respective retailer, with each one packing in a little something extra that’s separate from the actual discs. All of the special goodies are only available with a purchase of the Blu-ray. If you don’t have a Blu-ray player, there’s also a single-disc DVD out today as well. However, the Blu-ray also includes multiple special features. Besides the actual Blu-ray disc, a standard-def DVD, the Digital Copy, and the UltraViolet Digital Copy, there are over an hour’s worth of extras, including:

  • On the Surface
    • SpongeBob SquarePants: Out of His World
    • When I Grow Up, I Want to Make Funny Sounds
    • Becoming Burger Beard
    • Making the Burger Mobile Chase Sequence
    • It’s Hip to Be SquarePants
    • A Day in the Life of a Sponge
  • Underwater Awesomeness
    • Plankton Rules the World!
    • Bikini Bottom Confidential: Rock Stars of the Sea
    • International Sponge of Mystery: Meet Bubbles
    • International Sponge of Mystery: The Speech
  • Bikini Bottom Boogie
    • Thank Gosh It’s Monday
    • SpongeBob Sing-Alongs:
      • Thank Gosh It’s Monday
      • Teamwork
      • Theme Song/Rap Battle
    • “Squeeze Me” Music Video by N.E.R.D.
  • Deleted/Extended/Alternate/Test Scenes

The 3D version of the Blu-ray has all of the same special features listed above, but adds in a 3D version of the film and a 3D-enhanced version of the “Thank Gosh It’s Monday” deleted scene.

Want to know which version you’ll want to buy? (Because you know you’re going to want to buy one of them.) My son and I got to unbox all six versions being released today. Check out the goods in our video below. Are you ready, kids? I can’t hear you…

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is available now as a Blu-ray Combo Pack and a Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack. It’s also available on DVD, VOD, and Digital HD.

Clinging to Antiquated Tech

Image: Sarah Pinault


I’m a big fan of new technology. I like everything to have a touch screen, and I like it to take up as little physical space as possible. I am accustomed to the world of Wi-Fi, and I expect to be connected pretty much everywhere I go. I don’t go very far. Yet, there are still areas of my technological life in which I cling to, what some people would call, antiquated tech. Much in the same way that my dad clings to Zach Morse’s cell phone, or GeekMom Corrina clings to her rotary phone, I find myself clinging to first generation models or heaven forbid, their paper alternatives. Don’t even get me started on my typewriter.

Image: Amazon.com

My digital camera: While I long ago gave up on film, I’m still a point and shoot person at heart. Most of my friends and fellow moms have traded up over the years, and strayed into the realms of amateur photography. The closest I have come is with my Canon PowerShot which a photographer friend tells me “at least looks like a real camera”. If I want professional pictures I have somebody else take them. To document my life, I’m good with my point and shoot. I also have not converted to the phone camera, though my husband’s iPhone 6XL takes a pretty fantastic picture and is much more convenient for delivery of digital images. My son is already rapidly growing out of his V-Tech and soon will come the day when his amateur movie making skills require something far in advance than his mother’s tech.

My television: Until a few weeks back we had an eleven year old television set. It required a digital box, chopped off the corners of the every wide image, and got very fuzzy reception. But it worked. My dad was a television repairman back in the day that we actually fixed things instead of disposing of them, my husband is of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. So we had fuzzy reception, we could watch DVDs just fine, and with a Roku box we were well set up. Just not highly defined. The reason we got a new television? Someone gave it to us, no upgrade wanted, but who turns away a free TV really?

Image: Moleskine.com

My calendar:
 I still use a paper calendar, and am a source of great amusement to my geek friends when I pull it out to literally pencil in a game date. We use Google calendar as well, this is where we store all of our joint events and family adventures. My husband uses the Google calendar on his Iphone, I however, will always pull out my trusty old moleskin. Within which is stored, events, birthdays, anniversaries and the cute things that my kids say to me.

My taxes: To be fair, I only cling to this one grudgingly, because I cling to my husband doing our taxes instead of paying someone to do them for us. He fills out the paper forms and mails them in every year. No Turbo Tax, no electronic submission. Plain old paper, plain old stamp. I am sure at some point we will be shocked to find that paper is no longer an option.

My phone: Much like Corrina I cling to my landline. My entire extended family still live in England, and so a cell phone is not the best method of communication. I gave up my cell phone years ago when I realized it was merely serving as an answering machine and nothing else. Occasionally I miss having one, like when I am five months pregnant and get a flat tire, but for the most part it is utterly blissful to be turned off from technology in this way.

My DVDs: I did not convert to Blu-Ray, I have to admit it. Partly because it ticks me off when we come out with new technology every ten years and everyone rushes to replace things they already have. Partly because I just don’t see the point, especially with a decade old television set! Much like VHS, I am sure a time will come when I have to embrace something new, but by then it probably won’t be Blu-Ray but the next iteration of media storage. Don’t even get me started on digital media, if I can’t touch it, I don’t own it. I got rid of my VHS player a few months ago, having clung to if for my only copy of Jurassic Park, but much like Elsa I finally let it go… and bought the DVD.

Vinyl records: These I will never part with, and accumulate more of every year. This one I cling to, not to exclude all others, but because I love them so. I listen to Spotify, I have an Ipod, I have hundreds of CDs, I also have a vast collection of Holiday music and musical theatre that just sound better on Vinyl. This is pure nostalgia, I love the sound, I love the crackles, it makes me feel home. My record player is a piece of work, you can play records, cassette tapes, cds, and hook it up to a digital player, all of which I do regularly. It also has the capacity to record from Vinyl or Cassette onto CD, for when I don’t have a portable record player handy. This is a realm of geekdom I inherited from my father, who owns enough vinyl records to open several stores across multiple states. Listening to a record is like coming home, and I love sharing that spinning sound with my children.

And finally…

Image: Amazon.com

My Kindle: Yes, this does make it onto the list of antiquated tech, how times do change. I have a low range Kindle, it isn’t touch screen, isn’t backlit, it is wireless but has books and nothing else, and I like it that way. When I sit down with my husband’s iPhone or iPad for a few minutes, I get easily distracted. Facebook, Pinterest, Angry Birds, whatever the App DuJour is. But my Kindle holds my books and nothing else. I like not being able to accidentally swipe to the next page, or next app. I like that it does one thing, and that one thing well.

I think we all cling to certain things long after they’ve been upgraded, and in some cases the only thing that makes us stop using them is when they fail and customer support no longer exists. That’s why I stopped using Microsoft XP after all. Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what antiquated tech you cling to.

Enter to Win! Clarence: Mystery Piñata DVD with Your Very Own Piñata!

Clarence: Mystery Piñata is available now on DVD, but through this post you can enter to win your own copy. Image: Turner Entertainment.
Clarence: Mystery Piñata is available now on DVD, but through this post you can enter to win your own copy. Image: Turner Entertainment.

In celebration of the release of Clarence: Mystery Piñata on DVD earlier this month, which I wrote about a couple weeks ago, we are pleased to offer you a chance to win a copy of the DVD along with your very own “Mystery Piñata”, courtesy of Cartoon Network and Click Communications.

One randomly-selected winner will receive these two items:

1. One copy of the Cartoon Network Clarence: Mystery Piñata DVD.

2. A festive piñata filled with Cartoon Network-themed goodies.

Who doesn't live piñatas? Enter today to win this for your next party! Photo: Angelica Juarez, used with permission.
Who doesn’t live piñatas? Enter today to win this for your next party! Photo: Angelica Juarez, used with permission.

Enter through our Rafflecopter widget below. The more times you enter this giveaway, the better your chances of winning! You may use each method to enter once daily.

A winner will be randomly drawn on March 2nd and notified via email (so we do need a valid email from you), and will be displayed on this post.

Good luck!

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Lee Mendelson on the Peanuts Franchise, Bullies, & the Future of Charlie Brown and Snoopy

Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown is coming to DVD this Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Paramount.

Lee Mendelson was a huge part of my childhood. He was a big part of yours, too, and you probably don’t even know it. That’s because Mendelson was involved in almost every Peanuts cartoon ever produced.

After making the 1963 Willie Mays documentary, A Man Named Mays, Mendelson contacted Peanuts creator Charles Schulz about being his next subject. However, instead of a documentary, The Coca-Cola Company talked to Mendelson about doing a Christmas special. From there, Schulz brought in animator/director Bill Melendez and Mendelson hired jazz composer Vince Guaraldi. Soon, the holiday favorite, A Charlie Brown Christmas, was born.

From there, Mendelson went on to work on It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and countless others. In fact, his resume features a total of 50 different Peanuts productions, including Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown, which after 38 years, is finally coming to DVD this week.

Despite the time that has passed, the themes of Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown will be all too familiar to kids today. Sure, there are plenty of summer camp hijinks, but also the fear and strength that comes with encountering bullies. You can bet that Charlie Brown can tackle those kids better than he handles a football!

Besides his role as an executive producer for Peanuts and Garfield, Mendelson wrote the lyrics to “Christmas Time Is Here,” which has been performed countless times over the years. This year, at the age of 81, he received the Winsor McCay Award at the 2015 Annie Awards for his career contributions to the world of animation.

Recently, I got the chance to speak to Mendelson about the Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown DVD release, how the Peanuts franchise fares 50 years after A Charlie Brown Christmas, and what he sees for the future of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of the gang.

Lee Mendelson served as executive producer for 50 Peanuts cartoons. Photo courtesy of Lee Mendelson/Paramount.

GeekMom: Can you explain a little bit about your role in the Peanuts franchise? What exactly does the executive producer do?

Lee Mendelson: The executive producer normally makes the deal either with an advertising agency or a network and gets a budget for shows. Then, he hires the writer, the producer, the director, and so forth. Although we didn’t hire Mr. Schulz, obviously. He was one of the partners.

GM: I know that the Christmas special came first. Did you ever think that this one special would lead to so many other Peanuts productions?

LM: No. We thought it had failed. When we showed it to the animators before it went on the air, we thought it was too slow and when CBS saw the show, they thought it was too slow. We thought it was going to be one and out. But the next week, when there were only three networks, of course, 50 percent of the country tuned in. Half of the United States tuned in for this little cartoon. We suddenly realized that we had lightning in a bottle and the next day, the network ordered four more shows. But until it went on the air, we thought it was going to be one show and out and I would go back to making my documentaries.

GM: So would you say that A Charlie Brown Christmas is your favorite one?

LM: Oh sure. Not only has it become kind of a staple at Christmas time, it has the music; and without a doubt, we wouldn’t have been able to do the other 49 specials and I wouldn’t have been able to do all of the documentaries and entertainment specials that followed. It was like the grandfather to everything else.

Courtesy of Paramount.

GM: I know that some of the program ideas came from Charles Shultz’s comic strips. Was that the case with Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown?

LM: No. That was an exception. In the early days, almost all of the ideas came from the comic strips, particularly because they were around the holidays. Later on, we started to deal with other themes apart from the strip. We did one show about a little girl in Charlie Brown’s class who gets cancer, we did one about World Wars I and II, we did the mini-series This is America, Charlie Brown. The four movies did not come out of the comic strips. The characters did, but the themes and the action and the plot were totally apart from the strip, as far as the story goes. Race for Your Life, of course, and one of the main themes of Charlie Brown is to overcome bullies and that’s why Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown was important to us—to have these bullies get defeated.

GM: That theme of overcoming bullies is definitely important to today’s generation. Is that why some of these characters and films seem so timeless? My son loves the cartoons and I still watch them with him. What is it about them?

LM: I think Charles Schulz dealt with basic truths. What was true back then is true today. What was true 50 years ago is true today and will probably always be there is that we all struggle every day in our lives to overcome problems—and Charlie Brown’s struggle is our struggle. He keeps coming back over and over again and keeps trying and sometimes even has some success along the way. But again, Shultz was dealing with failure and overcoming failure. In baseball, you fail all the time, three out of four times. He [Charlie Brown] failed, of course, all the time. In love, all of the unrequited love sequences between the different characters, was always fraught with potential failure. And then the whole thing of overcoming bullies, these are themes that people identify with every day. And Schulz himself said once, he always felt that Charlie Brown was like a little kid you’d like you have as a next door neighbor. It’s just a matter of what was true 50 years ago is true now. And the whole bullying theme is as big a topic today as it ever was, as we know. All of the bullying that goes on in so many different areas. It’s as timely today as it was 50 years ago.

GM: Which of the characters do you most identify with?

LM: I enjoy Linus a lot. Mr. Schulz used to say that if the kids ever grew up, Linus would be the most stable because of his sucking his thumb and having the security blanket got him off to a good start. I just enjoyed him the most of all of the characters. I liked Peppermint Patty a lot, too. He kept adding characters to the strip and she was this independent latchkey kid and I got a kick out of her.

Woodstock and Snoopy in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. Photo courtesy of Paramount.

GM: Are you at all involved in the new film that’s coming out this year? And what do you think of it?

LM: No. That’s Charles Schulz’s family’s production and CGI and we don’t do CGI. It looks really good and I’m really excited because I think it will get a whole new audience, just like this HD version of Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown will get a bunch people who just know it from television. I think it will help the old shows and it will help get a new audience.

GM: Why do you think it took so long to get a new movie? It’s been like 30 years since the last one…

LM: We had done four feature films and we just moved on to other things. There was no particular reason. And of course, Mr. Schulz passed away in 2000, so for the past 15 years, there was no discussion about the movie. Then his son, Craig, came up with a good idea, so now they’re going ahead with it. But there was no reason. It just wasn’t time and now it is.

Look for Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown on DVD for the first time, starting February 10, 2015.

Enter to Win Adventure Time: Finn the Human on DVD!

Adventure Time: Finn the Human is a great gift for your favorite Finn and Jake fan! Enter now to win your very own copy! Image credit: Turner Entertainment

In November, I had the chance to review the latest Adventure Time DVD. Adventure Time: Finn the Human includes 16 episodes from a sampling of Seasons 1-5, each featuring Finn the Human and his backstory. The DVD includes a drawstring replica of Finn’s backpack to enjoy, as well.

Now is your chance to win your very own copy of Adventure Time: Finn the Human! Simply perform one or all of the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below and you’re easily entered! For an additional entry, drop a comment below and tell us about your favorite episode of Adventure Time. My favorite episode is “Burning Low,” mainly because of the “Bacon Pancake” song.

Act fast! This giveaway ends at 11:59pm, Sunday, December 22nd.

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Maleficent is Now Available on Blu-ray and DVD!

MaleficentBlurayCombo copy
Image courtesy of Disney.

Disney’s Maleficent is now available on Blu-ray and DVD!

This may sound strange to many, but I have an aversion to movie theaters. I do not enjoy the experience nor the crowds, so I tend to wait until movies come out and I can watch them on the absurdly large screen my husband insisted we needed. It turns out, he was right. We still get a theater experience and have saved an impressive amount of money.

Every once in a while, though, a movie tempts to lure me to the big screen either because I want to see it so desperately or because the film deserves the epic  largeness of the screen. It is sometimes both (cough, Hobbit). Maleficent was one of those movies. One of my favorite actresses taking on the role of what is arguably Disney’s most iconic villain in a film that reimagines the story no one ever tells had me very excited. For reasons forgotten at this point, I never made it and so it was with great anticipation that I awaited the Maleficent DVD release.

I have to say, I was not disappointed. There is not a word I could say better about the movie than what was featured in Corrina Lawson’s review of Maleficent. In addition, I got to watch the bonus features right away, which were all wonderful and enhanced our experience. My daughter and I were particularly drawn to the bonus features “Building and Epic Battle” and “Maleficent Revealed,” in which all the special features and effects were described and shown in detail. She even watched the movie again to see those scenes in their final version to compare them. We both were amused by one of the interviews with Angelina Jolie in which she was describing how none of the little children would come near her (in her full makeup and costume) to film the scenes with the very young Aurora, and so in the end it was her own daughter who ended up playing the role!

Image courtesy of Disney.

I hope you enjoy this film as much as we did. It certainly is a solid addition to our collection, a feminist fairytale, and stunning in every way!

Check out these bonus clips!

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Unboxing the How to Train Your Dragon Collector’s Edition

The version of the How to Train Your Dragon Collector’s Edition with the flying dragons is a Walmart exclusive.

Hiccup, Toothless, and the rest of the How to Train Your Dragon crew are just weeks away from new adventures. This is absolutely the perfect time for Paramount to release the How to Train Your Dragon: Collector’s Edition.

It’s easy to scoff at another release for the 2010 film—especially, if you already purchased the 2010 DVD or Blu-ray (or the 3D version from 2011). Well, I don’t know about you, but in my house, discs are easily lost and even more easily scratched. Maybe you could use an upgrade.

Since you’ve probably seen the movie a few hundred times at this point, I’m not going to bore you with plot points and how this is an awesome movie. (Just know that I even cried in the theater!) Instead, let’s focus on how this release differs from the last release.

As far as the picture and image are concerned, you can expect a carbon copy of the 2011 release. It doesn’t have any 3D options, but it does have the same 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the same Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track. (The audio was upgraded from 5.1 to 7.1 in 2011.)

The extras are where things get sort of interesting. On paper, most of the extras were picked up from the previous release. That includes the commentary track, the picture-in-picture commentary option, and an on-screen trivia track, as well as a short on the voice actors, two on the animation, and another on “The Story Behind the Story.” There are several additional featurettes, including the animated “Book of Dragons” and “Ultimate Book of Dragons.” It’s a nice release, but it’s worth mentioning that the Blu-ray no longer has any of the games from the last Blu-ray and both the deleted scenes and the “Legend of the Bonekeeper Dragon” short is now only on the DVD that’s included (not on the Blu-ray).

The only new featurette is the “Frozen” episode of DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk. There are a few non-disc perks, including DVD and digital versions of the film and a free movie ticket that will get you up to $7.50 off one ticket for How to Train Your Dragon 2. However, my two favorite perks are part of the Walmart exclusive for this release. I had my son unbox them in the video below.

In case you couldn’t tell, the Walmart edition comes with a book, the How to Train Your Dragon 2 Racing Guide. Since I didn’t think a video of my son reading would be all that interesting, it was hard to get the gist of this one on video. Although it’s geared towards the sequel, the characters will be very familiar and the racing aspect is really fun—and very appropriate for this release. As mentioned in the video, this set also comes with five “flying dragons.” These are like paper airplanes. Whenever I am assembling crafts like this one, I feel like I have an extra thumb. However, the directions are easy to follow and the pieces are pretty sturdy. Here was the end result:

The How to Train Your Dragon Collector’s Edition is available now on Blu-ray and DVD. Just know that the version with the flying dragons is a Walmart exclusive.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

4 Future Marvel Movie Hints from Thor: The Dark World


thor 2 covers
Blu-ray cover images: © Marvel.

With Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World just out on Blu-ray and DVD this month, fans of the God of Thunder and his “adopted” brother will get another chance to enjoy Marvel’s biggest movie offering of 2013.

This will also give viewers and Marvel fans a chance to catch a few “spoilers” for Marvel’s upcoming movies in 2014 and 2015, both within the content of the film and via some of the disc extras. There isn’t much in the previews themselves that hasn’t already been seen (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and more promoting of all The Avengers: Phase One movies).  However, I will point out that The Falcon and his incredible flight gear is worth a second look.

Here are four glimpses into Marvel Universe’s movie future to get you started:

1. That ending! I have to be very, very careful here. Not to give away anything for those who haven’t yet seen the movie, but I honestly didn’t see that coming. I can’t say I was unhappy with the outcome and I know there’s a flock of fans of the God of Mischief and Lies who just knew he was capable of this, um, stunt. Yes, Loki will be back in the third Thor movie. Although it has been confirmed this will happen, the actual release date is still a long ways away, definitely after 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron release.  So, Loki and Tom Hiddleston fanatics, enjoy the uncontrollable smirk you’ll get when you see this ending and be patient—very, very, patient—for the continuing adventure in the next two or three years.

As for Odin’s fate, let the speculating begin.

2. The mid-credits extra with a special “guest” appearance. In this sequence, you’ll see an appearance by a character, who has been an obscure but essential, clairvoyant, immortal, shape-shifting, and obsessive-compulsive villain in the Marvel Universe, whom you will see in this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Judging from the item he has featured in the scene of which he remarks, “one down, five to go,” this character, portrayed by an uncredited Benicio del Toro, could play a big part in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

3. The “Exclusive Look: Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Blu-ray extra.  Marvel’s next big movie comes in early April, so Marvel is cranking up the promotional notches pretty high. The extra will not only give a peek into a little more of the movie’s plot, but will discuss the mystery of who the Winter Soldier actually is. Most people with a vague knowledge of the comic should already know, but I recommend checking out the 19-issue Winter Soldier comic run, which was written by Ed Brubaker for the first five issues and continued through the conclusion by Jason LaTour. If the movie holds true to any part of this latest comic run, Natasha Rominov is going to be a very busy gal.

4. The Marvel One-Shot: All Hail The King short film featuring The Mandarin (aka Trevor). I have thoroughly enjoyed all the Marvel One-Shot extras, as they give great insight to the lesser appreciated and very entertaining supporting characters. It was through A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer that we got to really see for the first time just how badass Agent Coulson is on his own. With Agent Carter, we were able to celebrate Peggy Carter finally getting an opportunity to be part of something worthy of her resourcefulness and intelligence.

The Mandarin’s One-Shot is no different, and Ben Kingsley delivers more great one-liners in this short piece than he did in his entire Iron Man 3 appearance (“Sean Connery made a pass at me.”). Also, for comic book purists who felt the handling of The Mandarin’s identity was just a little bit—okay, a whole lot—off the rails, there might be a hint to a bigger surprise in the future.

This short alone is almost worth the price of the disc, so wonderful Mr. Kingsley’s performance was.

Thor: The Dark World is now available in one-disc DVD or Blu-ray sets, as well as a two-disc version with the Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, and Digital HD. It’s currently selling on Amazon for around $15, $18, and $22, respectively.

Note: A Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is not available—something that I would think won’t sit well with some viewers. I do admit that it’s rather irksome.

For GeekMom’s official review of the movie, read Kelly Knox’s review and my commentary on cast member and head baddie Christopher Eccleston.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Review: Adventure Time: The Complete Third Season

Our Adventure Time superfan enjoyed every single episode of the Season 3 DVD set and we all enjoyed the extras. The small BMO figurine is not included, but the DVD set includes paper arms to cut out for the DVD box. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

If you’re a fan of the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time, you’ll be excited to know that the Season 3 Blu-ray and DVD sets hit retailers today!

Our family had a chance to preview the two-disc DVD set and enjoyed reliving the 26 episodes (over four hours’ worth of Finn and Jake fun!) and particularly enjoyed many of the extras. As I’ve talked about here and here, we have an Adventure Time superfan in our house, so he was thrilled to help me with this particular product review.

Most of the fans who would buy this Adventure Time set have probably already enjoyed most, if not all, of the episodes, so this review will focus on the extras. There aren’t many extras, so it’s easy to cover all of them.

The BMO Box

Like Seasons 1 and 2, the DVD box itself is fun. If you haven’t seen them, Season 1 features Finn and Season 2 has the Ice King. The boxes are custom die-cut sleeves of each character, and each disc in the set is an additional layer. In Finn’s case, one of the discs is his skeleton and another is his muscles. Very interesting, indeed. For Season 3, you get to enjoy the insides of our favorite video gaming console character, BMO.

The two discs inside are decorated with BMO’s heart and his CD-ROM drive. In addition, the information sheet inside the case includes cut-out arms that you can tape to the exterior of the casing for, as the Cartoon Network press release suggests, your “very own collectible BMO figurine.” Paper doll is more like it.

Alternate Introduction by Screen Novelties

The DVD includes the Lego alternate introduction assembled by the Los Angeles animation company Screen Novelties. It’s really cool! I tried to find some fun facts about how many Lego bricks were used and how much time it took for the talent to come up with the introduction, but I couldn’t find anything. It turns out, you can simply watch the introduction on YouTube:

Interview with Creator Pendleton Ward and Friends

There is a 7.5-minute interview with show creator Pendleton Ward, supervising producer Adam Muto, and head of story Kent Osborne. The title of the video is “How an Idea Becomes Adventure Time.” The video features a lot more than the title suggests. It’s mostly assorted commentary about the nostalgia, the assorted writers, and the storyboard artists incorporated into the show.

Muto’s parts of the interview are the best presented. The other two are a bit more babbling. I still encourage listening to the whole thing, particularly the section about how parents come up to the creators at Comic-Con to thank them for creating a show that the whole family can appreciate. You can also catch a glimpse of the young man who voices Finn, Jeremy Shada (who, by the way, was also a star of the short-lived Cartoon Network sketch comedy series, Incredible Crew.)

Commentary Tracks

Finally, like so many other TV-to-DVD releases, cast and crew commentary tracks are available for each of the 26 episodes. Personally, there are very few commentary tracks that I can stomach. I think for me, it’s the chaos of trying to listening to the commentary while watching something completely different on-screen.

I listened to two episodes’ worth of commentary tracks. There are several commentators introduced at the beginning of each episode who were telling assorted stories full of tangents. In the episode “Too Young”, I’d estimate about 20 percent of the commentary was actually relevant to what we were looking at. Some of the tangents offered some historical perspective and creative inspiration for the characters and storylines.


Adventure Time: The Complete Third Season (MSRP: $32.07 Blu-ay, $26.95 DVD) is available now, at major entertainment retailers such as Amazon.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

The Jungle Book Gets a Wild, Wonderful Diamond Edition

The Jungle Book: Diamond Edition is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. Image: © Disney.

Although it’s number 19 in a lengthy list of Disney features, The Jungle Book was actually the last film to get the personal stamp of Walt Disney himself. The animator and innovator was supposedly very involved with the production, mainly due to the disappointing response received for 1963’s The Sword in the Stone. Alas, he would never see all of his work come to the big screen. Disney died from lung cancer just 10 months before The Jungle Book was released in October 1967.

Despite Disney’s involvement, it has taken 47 years for the film to get one of the studio’s coveted “Diamond Edition” releases. Thankfully, that oversight has now been rectified. Not to worry, though; The Jungle Book: Diamond Edition Blu-ray goes way beyond the “Bear Necessities,” with a fully restored high-definition image and a slew of new extras.

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s much darker book, the film follows the tale of Mowgli, a boy who is orphaned in the jungle and raised by wolves. When the “Man-Cub” turns 10, the pack learns that Mowgli has become the prime target of Shere Khan, a man-eating Bengal tiger. Fearing his safety, the group decides that Mowgli must return to the “Man-Village.” En route, Mowgli does his best to stay in the jungle, all while encountering a variety of characters. The most notable of the bunch is Baloo, a lovable bear, who promises to take care of Mowgli and teach him about the “Bear Necessities” of life.

Blu-ray image: © Disney.

It really is surprising how long it has taken to get The Jungle Book on Blu-ray. Besides being the final movie that Disney produced, it has some of the studio’s catchiest songs, including the aforementioned “Bare Necessities” and “I Want to Be Like You.” It was also one of the first to include famous voices—although they may not seem all that famous to the next (or current!) generation of viewers. That lineup includes Phil Harris as Balloo, Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera, Louis Prima as King Louie, and a very young Clint Howard as Junior, Colonel Hathi’s son.

The Jungle Book: Diamond Edition is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Both releases pick up all of the special features from the 2007 DVD release, most notably “The Bare Necessities” making-of featurette and a short on “Disney’s Kipling.”

The Blu-ray also has a few newer items, all which are not available on the regular DVD. Those bonuses include separate (but short) film introductions by the late Diane Disney Miller and songwriter Richard M. Sherman, as well as an alternate ending, a peek at what’s going on inside Disney Animation , and a plug for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

There’s also the incredibly short, but interesting featurette, “Music, Memories, & Mowgli,” which has Miller and Sherman talking with Disney Legend and animator Floyd Norman. Also worth noting is the addition of “Bear-E-Oke,” an on-screen sing-a-along option that can be viewed as one short or via Disney Intermission, a feature that can trigger all of those songs when the movie is paused.

As with many of Disney’s “Diamond Edition” releases, this one has restored audio and video—and that’s not just some marketing spiel. The Blu-ray’s image is clean, but sometimes a bit too much. It doesn’t have that grainy, film-like quality you see in a lot of Blu-rays, but it’s pretty gorgeous nonetheless. The colors are lush and the flicker that you’d typically see with older films is completely gone. It also has a wonderful DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, which helps some of the songs and action really pop.

The Jungle Book is far from my favorite Disney film, but it is a Disney film—and one that the entire family will really enjoy. The themes and songs have aged really well, with the Blu-ray giving the image and audio a boost that’s worthy of sharing with a new generation.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Mary Poppins‘ Jane Banks Shares Her Disney Memories

© Disney

With Saving Mr. Banks in theaters and the original Mary Poppins just released on home video, Disney’s beloved 1964 musical is enjoying something of a renaissance. In celebration of the new 50th anniversary edition release on home video, I was invited to participate in a special afternoon tea with actress Karen Dotrice, who played young Jane Banks in the original film. She’s all grown up now, with kids of her own, but her memories of that time are still fresh and fascinating. Imagine hearing stories about Walt Disney over tea and scones, from someone who knew him as kind of a father figure.

It’s not an opportunity that comes around often, so as you can imagine, we all peppered her with questions about the making of Mary Poppins, working with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, and, of course, her encounters with Disney himself. She took it all in stride, with typical British humor and humility.

Though Dotrice comes from a family of actors, she told us that traveling from her native England to Los Angeles to make the film was a bit of a shock. “Arriving here, a little girl from the Cotswolds of England, and suddenly just being in Los Angeles, everything seem[ed] huge and exciting and bright and sunny and everybody was just pleasant,” she recalls. “It was so amazing to come here and it’s such a different world. It really was like finding Oz or something.”

During the filming, Dotrice became accustomed to her Southern California surroundings and grew close to her co-stars. She has fond recollections of Julie Andrews coaching her on the songs and Dick Van Dyke making her laugh in-between takes.

But there was one cast member for whom she had no love—Matthew Garber, who played her brother Michael (and starred alongside her in two other films as well): “He was a real ounce of trouble-and-a-half,” she says of her fellow actor, who died in 1977. “It’s terrible because I wish I had a bunch of nice things to say about him, but we were kids. And I couldn’t stand him and he couldn’t stand me. That’s the truth of it. I was raised to be prim and proper and he was a naughty boy.”

Box art courtesy WDHE

But, let’s be honest, what we all really wanted to hear about was what it was like to hang out with Walt Disney. In a word, awesome. We’re talking flying-on-a-private-jet-with-an-on board-candy-store awesome. Dotrice did three films in a row for Disney, and during that time he took a parental interest in her, inviting her family on weekend jaunts to Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, and visiting her at home when she was sick and couldn’t work. The famous studio head may have had his faults, but to a young child actress far away from home, they weren’t readily apparent. “He was just so kind and nice to me, and very encouraging,” Dotrice says of the legendary studio head. “He really liked me and I was really, really lucky.”

One of my favorite anecdotes she shared demonstrates that Disney wasn’t just a shrewd businessman, he had a sense of humor too.

“One time I was in Walt’s office, just sitting on his desk or what have you, chewing the fat,” she says. “And I said, ‘Uncle Walt, I’ve got an idea. Your desk. It’s so far away from the door. Let’s get somebody to come and I’ll help and we can move the desk closer to the door.’ And he laughed and said, ‘Oh, Karen, let me explain something to you.’ He said, ‘I keep my desk over here because by the time those cigar-chewing executives have crossed the room to ask me what they wanted to ask me, they’ve changed their mind.'”

After production wrapped on Mary Poppins Dotrice says that she stayed in contact with many of the friends she made on the production. Van Dyke is still her neighbor, and Andrews used to live around the corner. She often has composer Richard Sherman over for dinner, which typically ends with everyone standing around the piano listening to his famous tunes.

“I can’t say that about any other projects,” she says of the camaraderie she experienced on Mary Poppins. “There was something so magical about that project that everybody stayed together. It wasn’t even so much because it became well known; it was just, you know, they made us a family at the time, and treated us like family.”

But over the years, Dotrice has shifted her focus from her Hollywood family to her real-life one. She quit acting professionally in the early 1980s to devote more time to what she still considers her proudest role—devoted mother.

“I just revere being a mom,” she says. “It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had, including Mary Poppins.”

Join Us (Virtually) for a Frozen and The Pirate Fairy Event

Photo courtesy Disney

The folks at Disney Home Entertainment have organized a two-day press event to publicize some of their big upcoming home video releases and GeekMom is on the guest list. The good news for you, dear readers, is we will be bringing you all the interviews, tidbits, and information from the event as if you were right there beside us.

The tour kicks off next Tuesday, February 11, and begins with a behind-the-scenes look at Disney’s latest animated feature, Frozen. The Oscar-nominated hit is due for release on DVD and Blu-ray on February 25. Extras will include making-of featurettes, music videos, deleted scenes, and the original Mickey Mouse short “Get a Horse,” which is currently running before the feature in theaters.

Image courtesy of Disney Animation Studios
Official box art courtesy Disney

We’ll be talking with filmmakers Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, as well as producer Peter Del Vecho. We’ll also get a technical demonstration from character supervisor Gregory Smith and watch a voice-over recording session with audio engineer Gabe Guy.

On Wednesday, February 12, we’ll travel to DisneyToon Studios to get a preview of the next film in the Disney Fairies series, The Pirate Fairy. This direct-to-video movie features the voice of Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) as a renegade fairy named Zarina who leaves Pixie Hollow and joins a band of pirates. Thor‘s Tom Hiddleston also stars as James, a cabin boy destined to become a Neverland legend. Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) and her fairy friends are along for the ride as well, of course.

Here there be fairies, mateys

We’ll get to talk about the new movie and the creation of the lead character with director Peggy Holmes (who also helmed the last installment, Secret of the Wings) and producer Jennifer Magee-Cook. The Pirate Fairy will be available on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack beginning April 1.

If you have questions for any of the talent mentioned above, be sure to let us know and we’ll pass them along!

Set sail with Zarina and James

P.S. There’s also a third title included in the event, but we’re not allowed to mention it until the release date is announced. As soon as we can share that too, we’ll let you know. Stay tuned for all the home video news that fit to blog about!

A Monsteriffic Christmas

All Images: Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It’s a first world problem I know, but in my life there are several things that have to happen on Christmas Day to make me feel like I truly kept Christmas well. As I look back on Christmases past, I can see how these things morph over time. Though traditions have changed with marriage, trans-Atlantic moves, and children, many of these things remain the same: we eat Chinese food on Christmas eve, we have an enormous roast beast dinner on Christmas day, and we watch a good movie. Not necessarily a new movie, but a good, sit down together as a family, laugh, cry, carry on kind of movie. Growing up we watched The Wizard of Oz, or Hook, or the remake of Miracle on 34th Street. Last year it was Arthur Christmas. This year, after much internal debate, it was Monsters University.

MikeMy son and I went to see Monsters University when it came out in theaters, and though I was slightly dubious about a fraternity version of two of my favorite monsters, I was pleasantly surprised. Toby talked about the movie for weeks, and from then on every time he saw Mike or Sully, they were from Monsters University, no longer Monsters Inc. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and looked forward to the DVD release. So this year, after mulling over Planes vs. Thomas’ King of the Railway vs. Turbo I finally decided that Monsters University would be under the tree on Christmas morning.

Ever since I found a Robots multi-pack at our local Sam’s club, our disc of choice has been the DVD/Blu-ray/digital combo pack. We don’t own a Blu-ray player yet, but friends and family do, and I’m told it’s inevitable. Having gone through the VHS and DVD versions of all the other Disney movies, I like the idea of having the digital copy for when Blu-ray becomes antiquated!

Without giving away the goose, the collector’s edition currently available has everything I could have wanted from post-roast beast viewing. In addition to the movie, there is of course the short that came with it in theaters “The Blue Umbrella.” I remain fairly disinterested in this short; for me nothing will ever beat “For The Birds,” which was, funnily enough, shown before Monsters Inc back in 2000.

There are several hours of extras, including some great behind the scenes sequences. Audio commentary is provided by director Dan Scanlon, producer Kori Rae, and story supervisor Kelsey Mann. I found “Campus Life” to be the most interesting of the real world extras. It’s a tamer version of the Scare Games featured in the movie itself, giving you a glimpse into a real day at Pixar. To go along with this, “Paths to Pixar” shows animators talking about their many rejection letters before landing the dream job.

RandallFor those wondering about the oft-quoted line from Monsters Inc., “You’ve been jealous of my good looks since the fourth grade, pal.” You will get to see some footage created in the early stages of development. You get to see a young Mike in the final cut of the film, my oh my, are fourth grade Mike and Sully ridiculously cute. The fact that Monsters University dispenses with the history behind this line really didn’t bother me, but I did enjoy a look at the story line that was discarded. Like many, I always assumed that “since the fourth grade” just meant “a really long time.”

In case you were wondering what constitutes a geek Christmas in our house, in addition to a good movie, I like a good book and a good game on Christmas day. This year we played Dan Shapiro’s Robot Turtles leading to many screams of “Mommy! I wrote my first code!” and read Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson’s The Chicken Problem, featuring Peg plus Cat from PBS Kids.

GeekMom received Monsters University for review purposes.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Super Adventure Flies onto DVD

The new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Super Adventure DVD has a total of four episodes on one disc. Image: Disney.

Back in 2009, Disney acquired Marvel. It took them a little while, but the House of Mouse delivered its first crossover cartoon for the Disney network with the August debut of Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel. The results were hilarious. Now, the network has pumped a few superpowers into its classic characters.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Super Adventure adds a superhero twist into one of Disney’s most recognizable programs. First broadcast back in October, this super-sized superhero-themed episode finds Professor Von Drake turning the Clubhouse Gang into the Clubhouse Heroes. Mickey gets flying abilities and super strength, Minnie has “super bows” that you certainly wouldn’t want to mess with, and Pluto also has the ability to fly and do doggie things (like digging) on a superhero level. Rounding out the lineup is Donald with his super speed and Daisy, who can move things with her mind. Goofy, on the other hand, gets super-stretchy capabilities, which seem sort of lame in comparison. However, everyone does their part when it comes to battling the villain Megamort and his sidekick Power-Pants Pete.

Image: Disney.

Of course, Super Toodles is more powerful than the entire lot, helping to get the team out of the jams presented here. If you’ve watched even just one Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode, you’d know that Toodles has always been a bit of a superhero, constantly coming up with creative ways to solve the gang’s problems.

Despite the fact that my son is getting older, he’s still enamored with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I’m not complaining, either. He’s always smiling when he watches an episode. He also seems to learn something. This episode was no different. And while Mickey isn’t exactly Iron Man, we were still pretty glued to these cuddly characters and the teamwork that went into defeating (and then saving!) Megamort.

Sure, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Super Adventure isn’t the next coming of The Avengers, but it follows the show’s perky formula and has a nice message. Also worth nothing is that this DVD comes packaged up with a bunch of superhero trading cards inside. Actually, these are more like index cards, but my son asked if he could sleep with the Pluto one by his bed and then went clamoring for the rest of them first thing in the morning. There are also three regular-sized episodes included, making it a good selection for rainy afternoons or long car rides—or both. I’ve had some repeat viewing requested in this house already. Enjoy!

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Disney Delivers a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Version of Mary Poppins

Julie Andrews won an Oscar for her role as the title character in Mary Poppins. Image: Disney.

Disney is getting ready to observe a very special birthday. Next year will mark 50 years since the theatrical debut of the classic, Mary Poppins. However, the House of Mouse has already started celebrating the milestone, by giving the film its very first Blu-ray release.

Mary Poppins: The 50th Anniversary Edition is a great way to stuff a few holiday stockings, which may be why Disney is introducing this birthday Blu-ray a few months early. However, it probably has more to do with this week’s theatrical release of Saving Mr. Banks, which stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers.

Apparently, the real-life relationship between Disney and Travers was less than magical. The Blu-ray is a different story. Even without the wonderful songs and accolades, it’s really hard to pooh-pooh the movie that introduced the world to Julie Andrews, especially when she’s playing the ultimate super-nanny.

The film focuses on Jane (Karen Dotrice) and Michael Banks (Matthew Garber), who may look sweet on the outside, but are quite the gruesome twosome when it comes to caretakers. Enter Mary Poppins, who manages to dance and sing her way into their hearts, all while Dick Van Dyke (as Bert) dances around a horrible Cockney accent.

Image: Disney.

Still, Mary Poppins went on to win five Oscars, including one for Andrews and one for the song “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Travers was supposedly not impressed, since she loathed both the film’s music and animated portions. If you’re likely to agree with the late author, you probably won’t be too keen on this classic, either. After all, the music and the animation are pretty much the whole movie. It’s also what makes it so awesome after all these years. They don’t make films like this anymore.

Thankfully, they do upgrade them. This is the first time Mary Poppins is getting a high-def release and it really does add some sparkle into the overall viewing experience. The image does flicker in spots. Overall though, Blu-ray does help to hide Mary Poppins‘ age quite nicely. It has great color and tons of detail you’ve probably never noticed. It also has a delightful DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track and a collection of fun extras, including all of the bonus features from the previously released DVD, as well as a “Mary-OKE” sing-along and 14 minutes of actor Jason Schwartzman talking to songwriter Richard M. Sherman about the film’s music and its rocky production.

Even after 50 years, Mary Poppins still offers plenty of magic for both new and old fans of the film. It would have been nice if this release had a few more new extras. That said, between Andrews, the audio, and the video, Mary Poppins: The 50th Anniversary Edition is a wonderful way to introduce a new generation to a beloved Disney character.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

What Would You Ask Superman?

The Man of Steel online fan event will be exclusive to Yahoo Movies this Saturday, November 9. Image: Warner Bros.

Want to know what was cut out of the original version of Man of Steel? Worried about Ben Affleck’s take on Batman? Wondering how Superman gets his cape so clean?

Some of those questions could actually be answered this weekend.

In honor of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. is planning an online fan event for this weekend. Just log onto Yahoo Movies this Saturday, November 9 at 9:00 a.m. (PT) and 12:00 p.m. (ET).

Hosted by Superman super-fan Kevin Smith, the event will have director Zack Snyder and stars Henry Cavill and Amy Adams on hand to answer some of those burning questions. Viewers will also be privy to a featurette with Snyder and Michael Shannon talking about the movie.

The event is really to promote the DVD and Blu-ray release, so the trio probably won’t divulge too much about Superman’s upcoming adventures. There’s no harm in asking, though!

And yes, you can ask whatever you want. However, questions must be submitted in advance. You can send them to @ManofSteelMovie on Twitter using the #AskManofSteel hashtag or submit video questions online.

Man of Steel will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and 3D Blu-ray on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. If you need a little help coming up with a question, check out our own Corrina Lawson’s “Man of Steel: Ten Reasons I Loved and Hated This Movie.”

Celebrate a Mathematical Halloween with Adventure Time and Regular Show

Modeling his new Jake Hat while showing off the Jake the Dad DVD. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
My youngest son modeling his new Jake Hat while showing off the Jake the Dad DVD. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Are you in need of a last minute Halloween idea? Look no further than your favorite entertainment retailer for Cartoon Network’s latest DVD offerings: Adventure Time: Jake the Dad and Regular Show: Fright Pack.

We love that the Adventure Time: Jake the Dad DVD came with a free Jake hat, which is the perfect accompaniment to the ever-popular Finn hat that you can get just about anywhere, such as the Adventure Time: Jake vs. Me-Mow DVD. Pick it up for a quick and easy Halloween costume!

Even though the DVD is subtitled Jake the Dad, that’s merely the first of 16 episodes along with several bonus features.

Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

My youngest son in particular enjoys Adventure Time. He not only likes the television series, but he has also read several of the comic books and graphic novels available. He has even been drawing stories of Finn and Jake of his own (his latest is about a magic burrito). My favorite part? I absolutely love the closing credits song…stick around and listen to it.

Kudos to Adventure Time for their imaginative characters and stories, and for their prompting of my son’s imagination.

Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Both of my sons are fans of Cartoon Network’s Regular Show. I admittedly will sit down and watch episodes alongside them. I think it’s because Mark Hamill is one of the voices. And I love all things Mark Hamill. I am also a fan of the Mordecai and Margaret plot.

The Regular Show: Fright Pack DVD includes all of the Regular Show Halloween episodes along with many more for a total of 15 episodes to enjoy. In addition there’s a Villains Gallery to browse.

Adventure Time: Jake the Dad retails for $24.98 and Regular Show: Fright Pack retails for $19.82. Both DVDs are available now through television and movie sales outlets, such as Target and Amazon.

GeekMom received both of these items for review purposes.

Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel Lands on DVD

The Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel DVD also includes six additional episodes. © Disney XD

Mom! Phineas and Ferb are making a DVD release!

Just two months after the Disney Channel aired Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, it’s out on DVD. Yes, my family watched the episode when it first aired. We actually watched it more than once, if you want to get technical. Apparently, this episode has legs, as well as superpowers.

Well, it has superpowers sometimes. The plot of the main feature is that Doofenshmirtz’s “Power-Draininator” has swiped powers from some of the world’s most beloved heroes. That lineup includes Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk. Soon after, Red Skull, Whiplash, Venom, and M.O.D.O.K. come looking for Doofenshmirtz to collect the goods—and an evil entourage is born.

Without a doubt, this is one of the geekiest, greatest episodes of Phineas and Ferb. It mixes up the animation styles used in the two cartoons, with awesome results. From the giant M.O.D.O.K. calling out “shotgun” to Major Monogram’s multiple eye patches to a cameo by Stan Lee; it’s completely hilarious and worthy of repeated viewing.

Image: Disney.

The DVD set is also a nice one, but I found the navigation to be a little annoying. After three previews, the DVD jumps right into the main feature. Once that ends, it jumps right into the next episode, and so on. Maybe it’s just my player, but I couldn’t just click the menu button and have that appear on-screen. I actually had to go into my player’s options to get to the main menu. This doesn’t happen to me very often, so I found it odd. Your mileage may vary, though.

That menu is something that you’re going to need, because this single-disc release does have multiple episodes. Besides “Mission Marvel,” there are a total of six other episodes, which includes two two-parters. It would have been nice if Disney included some behind-the-scenes action, the premiere episode of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, or something like that. However, it’s a pretty hilarious collection, which includes Candace becoming a fly, a peek at Perry’s old partner, mom finally checking out Phineas and Ferb’s creations, a little body swapping, and more.

Also worth noting are the non-disc perks. My 7-year-old was practically clawing at my face to get the included comic book and full-length poster. All of the available comics are the same short pamphlet, but there are three poster possibilities. (We got Perry!)

Even if you watched Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel months back on the Disney Channel, this DVD is worth the price ($15 on Amazon). Disney’s first Marvel mash-up is a really good one. Enjoy!

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

How to Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz, video screen capture

If you love The Wizard of Oz as much as I do, the next eleven months are for you. Warner Bros. is ramping up for the August 2014 75th anniversary of this beloved movie, with a DVD release and tons of tie-ins.

I came home from my trip to World Maker Faire two weeks ago to find a tiny Dorothy on the counter: the first sign in my house of the Year of Oz. Through October 10, The Wizard of Oz is the McDonald’s Happy Meal toy theme, including said Dorothy, as well as the Scarecrow, Wicked Witch of the West, Tin Man, Glinda the Good Witch, and Cowardly Lion, each with its own yellow brick road base, which connect together to make the full party.

Source: McDonalds.com

Oz is always welcome in my house. I rented the VHS so many times as a kid (renting videos!) that one day the clerk snidely remarked, “you know you’ve seen this before, right?” I even played the Scarecrow in an Oz production in high school. I apologize if you’ve ever had to hear me singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to myself. I have all of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. In short, my name is Ruth, and I’m an Oz geek.

I hoped seeing Dorothy on the counter would be the sign that my daughter is finally ready to share my Oz love. Two summers ago, we went to Florida for the final space shuttle launch and visited Hollywood Studios on the way. The life-like Wicked Witch animatronic character on The Great Movie Ride scared her so much, I knew it wasn’t time for the movie yet. I couldn’t risk her hating it.

But with a couple of years and greater movie sophistication in there, the 75th anniversary is a great reason to share Oz with the kids—mine and yours. Truth be told, we don’t buy a lot of movies in our house any more. Between Netflix and Hulu, we’ve got about all the entertainment we need. But some things are worth owning, and The Wizard of Oz is firmly on that list. I’m hoping that having it always there will make it as much a favorite for my kids as it was for me.

This new Blu-ray release, packaged in a beautiful lenticular slipcase, includes the film both in regular Blu-ray format as well as Blu-ray 3D for those with 3D HDTVs. It also comes with the Digital HD Ultraviolet digital download codes so that you can take it with you. Creating the 3D edition took quite a while—the NY Post has an interview about the process.

The DVD set’s special features (only in 2D) include:

    • The Making of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a new 69-minute documentary (similarly named to an older one) narrated by Martin Sheen that goes from the film’s production days through 75 years of movie love, covering costumes and makeup, the Technicolor work on the film, and stories and myths surrounding it.
    • Commentary by John Fricke along with cast and crew. Fricke is an Oz and Judy Garland historian who has written quite a few books on both topics.
    • A sing-along. Oh, yes.

The 75th anniversary DVD release is available on Blu-ray (one-disc version, fewer special features), the Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/UltraViolet combination described here, and standard DVD (two discs). For those who need even more, there’s a 75th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition, which includes five discs with even more special features, a photo book, set of pins, ruby slippers globe, map of Oz, and flash drive that makes it look like your laptop fell on the Wicked Witch of the East.

And, of course, since the anniversary is still almost a year away, the DVD release is just the start of the Oz fun. You’ve likely already run into one or two Oz events, such as the Oz-themes Cupcake Wars episode last week or the events around the country at Simon Malls. But there’s more to come.

Unless your family lived near or summered in western North Carolina, you may not even know that in the early 1970s, there was a Land of Oz theme park. It opened in 1970 as a way to keep the Beech Mountain ski resort area employees in work during the off season. After a fire (that destroyed Dorothy’s original dress) and dwindling attendance, the park closed in 1980. For a few years, the employees from those days have come back to welcome Oz lovers again one weekend a year. This weekend, October 5th, is the 20th anniversary of that gathering. (I’d actually planned to go myself before realizing I’d committed to a geek parenting panel at The Escapist Expo. Come to think of it, you should come see that!)

If you live more towards the middle of the U.S., I recommend visiting the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas, which I was lucky enough to see earlier this year. They have nearly 2,000 items of Oz memorabilia, ending with a chance to sit on the throne. I couldn’t resist spraying a pair of slippers with red glitter for the occasion!

CC-BY-SA Ruth Suehle

My entertainment loves as a child also included the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (I was pretty sure I was going to be a Rockette when I grew up). This year’s will include a hot-air balloon and balloonheads of The Wizard of Oz characters.

And it goes on. You’ll be seeing more Oz products this year, from candy to collectibles. I’m not usually a QVC shopper, but there are some tempting products in their Oz line running for the anniversary. Oz lovers really have a year to look forward to.

The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition, Beautifully Restored, Fantastic Bonus Features!

Image: Disney

This Tuesday, October 1st sees the release of The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition on Blu-ray/DVD, giving a whole new generation of kids the chance to experience Ariel’s undersea world. The film features digitally restored audio and video along with a host of bonus features that make this a must-have for Disney fans.

Originally released in theaters back on November 15, 1989, The Little Mermaid is the 28th Walt Disney Studios animated film and kicked off the Disney Animation Renaissance. Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian stole the hearts of kids and adults alike and they’ve lost none of their charm over the years.

The digitally restored version of the film will let you see and hear The Little Mermaid like never before and it’s an absolute treat to watch with your kids. There are plenty of parents who grew up with this movie, and even if it’s been awhile, the words to those songs are hard to forget and a silly amount of fun to sing.

#TheLittleMermaidEvent Goodie Bag, Image: Nicole Wakelin

There are also a bunch of special bonus features including:

  • Part of Your World music video performed by Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Crab-E-OKE Sing-Along
  • Deleted Character: Harold The Merman
  • Under the Scene: The Art of Live-Action Reference
  • Part of Her World: Jodi Benson’s Voyage to New Fantasyland
  • Howard’s Lecture

Of all the features, Howard’s Lecture was the one that, as a fan of Disney animation, I found most fascinating. It features Howard Ashman giving a casual lecture to the animators about how he sees music and animation coming together to create an amazing viewing experience. To watch him talking so confidently and passionately about his vision is just a joy.

In support of the movie’s release, Disney is also bringing out a new line of consumer products to support the film. It’s not just for kids, either. In addition to adorable plush versions of the characters, costumes, and that red wig, there are shirts, bags, and even make-up for us grown-up fans.

Image: Nicole Wakelin

Return to a world under the sea with Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian, and even evil Ursula with The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition on Blu-ray/DVD this October 1st.

GeekMom received this product for review purposes.

A Look At Disney’s Animation Research Library And The Little Mermaid

Animation Research Library, Image: Disney
Animation Research Library, Image: Disney

Disney’s Animation Research Library is an impressive place. I can’t tell you where it is, or what it looks like, or well, anything about the building itself because it’s a secret. I wasn’t even allowed to check-in on foursquare so it’s a bit like Disney’s own version of Area 51. But I can tell you about what’s inside.

I got a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in the building that does not exist, including a look at some incredible art from The Little Mermaid. They said I can talk about it but I’m holding on to that email in case the Disney Police come for me one day.

The purpose of Disney’s Animation Research Library is to preserve and collect the huge amount of material related to the production of all of Disney’s animation efforts. I’m not just talking about current stuff, but about every last piece of animation they’ve created since 1920; even things like maquettes, sketches, and the original glass panes that were used in the multi-plane camera.

We’re talking an astounding sixty-four to sixty-five million pieces of artwork.

A Carefully Stored Glass Pane On Display, Image: Disney
A Carefully Stored Glass Pane On Display, Image: Disney

As a huge fan of animation, just being in the same room with some of this stuff was breathtaking. We were escorted through vaults and various areas that we were absolutely forbidden from photographing, including one that contained giant drawers with those huge glass panes.

The cast member escorting us talked about how, when films like Bambi and Sleeping Beauty were originally made, they didn’t use the cels that most of us associate with animation now. Instead, they used a huge multi-plane camera that was tall enough to require a ladder to reach the top.

The artwork was painted on big panes of glass that were then photographed with this camera, giving films a depth they’d never before achieved. Amazingly, they didn’t save all these painted panes of glass but often scraped off the paint and used them again!

Scanned Animation, Image: Disney
Scanned Animation, Image: Disney

We also got to see the scanning room where a team of cast members is scanning all those millions of pieces of art to be sure that the images are preserved digitally. They’ve got several cameras, including a huge 241 megapixel camera, that takes a full two minutes to shoot a single picture. The result is amazing, but they’ve only just begun chipping away at the huge volume of images in their library.

Perhaps the most incredible part of the tour was saved for last, when we were brought into a room where cast member Leila Smith was on-hand to talk about the development process behind The Little Mermaid. We saw a beautiful collection of images showing Ursula and Ariel before they were the characters we know today.

A blonde Ariel? A skinny little Ursula? Seems impossible but Leila talked about how these were almost what we saw on the screen. The concept sketches showed just how many changes the characters went through before final versions were settled on and the project could move forward.

The Little Mermaid Concept Art, Image: Disney
The Little Mermaid Concept Art, Image: Disney

One of the biggest challenges they faced in animating the film is something you wouldn’t expect. It wasn’t the water or the animals, but Ariel’s hair. This was before computer animation like they had on Tangled so what to do with all that hair was a big concern. The solution came from space.

They saw how a female astronaut’s hair just sort of floated and that became their inspiration for Ariel’s hair, too. Instead of trying to animate individual strands, they animated her hair as more of a single body floating in the ocean.

Our time at Disney’s Animation Research Library was fascinating and all too brief. The behind-the-scenes look at The Little Mermaid left us all wanting to watch the movie again for the umpteenth time. And that’s exactly what I plan to do when The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition is released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 1st.

Enter To Win Our Disney Prize Pack Of Seven Blu-ray DVDs!

Image: Disney
Image: Disney

We are giving away a giant prize pack with (7) Seven Disney Blu-ray DVD titles! The seven movies include a little of the old and a little of the new, but all have the great Disney characters your kids will love. The prize pack includes:

Super Buddies
Oliver & Company
Return To Neverland
The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
The Muppet Movie
The Sword in the Stone
Robin Hood

To enter our giveaway just log in to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win). You can then like us on Facebook and Twitter for up to two entries! A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their name will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

How to Train Your Dragon is Officially Everywhere!

“Dragons: Riders of Berk” is now available on two separate DVDs. Image: Fox/DreamWorks Animation.

Just last week, GeekMom Jackie shared the teaser trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2. Now, the franchise is about to invade even more of your space. Now, I mean this in a loving way. If my son is going to be frothing over a cartoon, this is the one I’d want in our regular rotation. After all, I cried like a baby during the first film’s theatrical run. (Did I mention that I went by myself?)

Well now you can cry, laugh or snort, all in the privacy of your own home.

Fox just released Dragons: Riders of Berk – Part 1 and Dragons: Riders of Berk – Part 2 on DVD. You should know that these are two separate releases. Part 1 has episodes 1 through 11, with Part 2 packing in 12 through 20.

All 20 episodes have a lot of the same vocal talent from the film, including Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), America Ferrera (Astrid) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs). Each disc also comes with its own set of extras.

If you have a little (or big) fan in your house, you can add a little extra excitement by downloading the free DreamWorks Animation Augmented Reality app. Available for iOS and Android devices, this app can bring select DreamWorks movie posters to life. For instance, if you scan the image below, you’ll get a little preview for the new Dragons DVDs! (We also used it on Rise of the Guardians and Turbo images. It’s pretty cool!)

To get your Dragon on without an actual app, JumpStart has School of Dragons. This is a brand-new multiplayer online game, which is based on the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. Just create a user name and password, and soon you’ll be training with the other characters, experiencing a dragon-racing competition, and discovering the scientific method in a “fiery” way — by gathering up essential skills in earth, life and physical sciences.

Right now, School of Dragons can be played on all web browsers. JumpStart plans to launch seamless online and mobile gameplay sometime later this summer.

Download the free DreamWorks Animation Augmented Reality app and point your device’s camera right at this photo. Image: Fox/DreamWorks Animation.

Power Rangers and Dexter DVDs are a ‘Head’ Above the Rest

“Power Rangers Legacy: The First 20 Years” will have 98 DVDs packed inside a collectible Red Ranger helmet. Image: Shout! Factory.

TV and movie studios have been cranking out special-edition DVD and Blu-ray releases for years. Of course, some are better than others. My opinion is, if you’re going to put an entire series inside one set, you’d better make it memorable — and worth the hefty price tag that’s typically attached. For instance, the Harry Potter Wizards Collection started selling late last year, with 31 discs packed inside a box that has all sorts of secret compartments.

This week, I found out about two upcoming series sets. The pair couldn’t be more different content-wise, but have very similar packaging.

First up is Power Rangers Legacy: The First 20 Years, which will have all 20 seasons of the cult favorite inside one DVD set. (Sorry, there appears to be no Blu-ray release.) Shout! Factory says that the collection will include a total of 270 hours across 98 DVDs. Six of those discs will have bonus content, including several brand new featurettes. Of course, the real hook here is that the massive set will be packed inside a Red Ranger helmet.

Shout! Factory has yet to announce pricing for this collectible. However, you can add it to your holiday wishlist now, since it’s scheduled to start selling on December 3, 2013.

If you’re looking to score “a collectible head” a little sooner, Paramount just announced super-cool, creepy packaging for Dexter: The Complete Series Collection during the Dexter panel at San Diego Comic-Con. The Amazon exclusive will have every single episode of Showtime’s suspenseful series stashed inside an anonymous head.

The regular set is certainly no slouch, since it looks a lot like that slide box Dexter’s been keeping for the past eight seasons. Both editions include a disc of special features, including new documentaries “The Evolution of Dexter Morgan” and “The Code.” There’s also something called “Grafix: The Art of Dexter,” a special collection of photography, fan artwork and iconography and images. Dexter: The Complete Series Collection will be available as a 25-disc Blu-ray set or 33-disc DVD collection, starting November 5. The sets are priced at $427.99 and $352.99, respectively.

The pictured version of “Dexter: The Complete Series Collection” will be an Amazon exclusive. Image: Paramount Pictures.

It’s The Aquabats! Super Show! On DVD

"The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One!" is now available. Image: The Hub.
“The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One!” is now available. Image: The Hub.

Just in case Yo Gabba Gabba wasn’t strange enough for you, here comes the DVD for The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One!

If our masked heroes look a little familiar, it’s because they’ve appeared on the Nick Jr. fan favorite a few times in the past. In fact, The Aquabats’ fearless leader, Christian Jacobs, is actually the co-creator of Yo Gabba Gabba. You can definitely expect some awesome music, great guest stars, and a few very ’70s themes to carry over in The Aquabats! Super Show! Season One!

Continue reading It’s The Aquabats! Super Show! On DVD

A Monster in Paris Giveaway: We Have a Winner!

A scene from A Monster in Paris. Image:  © 2011 Europacorp.
A scene from A Monster in Paris. Image: © 2011 Europacorp.

We received so many great entries for our recent A Monster in Paris giveaway! It was great to see everyone sharing their favorite monsters. There were big ones, small ones, furry ones and funny ones, as well as ones from the past and present. Sure, I had a few nightmares, but hey — we have a winner!

We asked everyone to submit their favorite monster. Here was the winning response…

Continue reading A Monster in Paris Giveaway: We Have a Winner!

Last Chance to Win Our Monster in Paris Prize Package!

A scene from A Monster in Paris. Image:  © 2011 Europacorp.
A scene from A Monster in Paris. Image: © 2011 Europacorp.

Did you spent the weekend watching a bunch of plain, old 2D movies? We want to make one of your upcoming movie marathons more in-your-face, with a few 3D-enhanced goodies. Just enter our Monster in Paris contest — before it’s too late! Continue reading Last Chance to Win Our Monster in Paris Prize Package!