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"Sleeping Beauty's" Princes Aurora visits with Sofia The First in a holiday DVD release, "Holiday in Enchancia."
"Sleeping Beauty's" Princes Aurora visits with Sofia The First in a holiday DVD release, "Holiday in Enchancia."

"Sofia" may brighten a cold and gloomy day

Disney’s "Sofia the First" cartoon series about the young, adopted princess has some wonderful story-telling. Also, it features design guru Tim Gunn from "Project Runway" as the voice of Baileywick.

While many of the cartoons that Disney produces usually have something for children and adults alike, the stories of Sofia and her family are more for younger viewers. Teenagers will roll their eyes and yawn.

"Holiday in Enchancia" features wintery scenes with plenty of heavy coats and princess dresses. The DVD package includes a Sofia light-up ornament, and the story has special guest star Sleeping Beauty Princess Aurora making an appearance … you know, much like the episode actors on "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island."

This is a very cute story, one that is well told, well voice acted and wonderful and simple style animation. As Sophia spends her first holiday in the castle, King Roland goes missing. Sofia leads her mom, Amber and James on an expedition on a flying sleigh to find him. There’s come really great computer animation and a scary moment when they get caught in a blizzard. Luckily for all, animal friends come in handy when their dad is missing.

The extras on the DVD include four extra episodes of the snow: "Baileywick’s Day Off," "The Little Witch," "The Baker King" and "Four’s A Crowd."

"Big Hero 6." the Oscar-winning film from Disney Animation and based on a Marvel graphic novel, comes out on Blu-ray combo pack today.
"Big Hero 6." the Oscar-winning film from Disney Animation and based on a Marvel graphic novel, comes out on Blu-ray combo pack today.

Oscar-winning "Big Hero 6" now out on Blu-ray

There is little question why "Big Hero 6" won an Oscar on Sunday night. The animated movie, arriving on Blu-ray combo pack today, has that something special one expects out of a Disney Animation movie, as well as it the special vibe of a comic book origin story.

When Matt Mueller wrote his review of the theatrical release, he stated that this holiday film proved that Disney Animation was on the right track, pulling away from its cousin, Pixar.

"Plus, it has Baymax. Baymax trumps all. All hail Baymax," he wrote.

As far as I am concerned, this PG film is as balanced and as perfect as a movie can get when  setting up an origin story for a universe bigger than the corner the main characters inhabit. Baymax, the huggable robot built by the brother of the main character, Hiro, was meant to be a health care provider and assistant. But Hiro had other plans in mind, including tracking down what caused the fire that his brother was tragically killed in. Baymax is upgraded to fly, among other things, that allow the loveable character to be the best companion a young supergenius could ever hope for. The friends of Hiro’s brother, Tadashi, become the other four members of what becomes Big Hero 6.

It seems that at the core origin of most superhero tales is a tragic story of loss. This story isn’t different, but what it does do so well is present the main villain in parallel, showing he also is dealing with loss much like Hiro is. It is the way in which loss is handled that separates the good from the evil.

Extras include deleted scenes, two of which were considered to be possible opening sequences in the film. In a behind-the-scenes featurette, we meet the directors and other main staffers that brought the Marvel graphic novel to the big screen. We also learn that Marvel executives are the ones who helped the Disney Animation team come up with ways to help tell the story.

One fascinating thing revealed was the difference between animated films done by Marvel versus ho…

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"Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" is out on Blu-ray combo pack, and perfect for family film night.
"Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" is out on Blu-ray combo pack, and perfect for family film night.

"Alexander" Blu-ray makes you rethink your own bad days

When "Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" came out on Blu-ray combo pack earlier this month, I knew that families would be in for a bumpy ride.

Those who saw this film, based on the best-selling book by Judith Viorst, know of the honestly, really bad day Alexander and his family endure. For those who haven’t seen it, be ready to be blindsided with issues you pray would never happen.

That poor minivan.

Whether or not you've already seen the film, the Blu-ray is a perfect pickup for a rated-PG family movie night.

The loveable dad is played by Steve Carell, who dishes comic gold in this film. He has a relatable style and delivery that always seems to work even as outlandish as it is. The mom is played by Jennifer Gardner who reacts perfectly when her new children’s book with a misprint is read by Dick Van Dyke. It is brilliant.

Australian child actor Ex Oxenbould plays Alexander and does a good job moving the film along.

In the extras, Oxenbould shares behind-the-scenes video that pre-teens could easily relate to, as the film crew sets up the special birthday party at the end of the film. There’s a fun blooper reel, which is a common extra feature Disney likes to use on their films.

The best extra on the film is a short feature with book author Viorst, and her real son Alexander. He’s all grown up now, and is beginning to appreciate being the focus of something most kids read in elementary school. The great lesson here is that everyone has bad days. The way to get through is to dust it off and move on to a better day tomorrow.

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Disney released "101 Dalmatians" on Blu-ray and DVD combo pack today.
Disney released "101 Dalmatians" on Blu-ray and DVD combo pack today.

"101 Dalmatians" Blu-ray release full of history, great for Valentine's Day

When Disney made "101 Dalmations" – out today on Blu-ray and DVD combo pack – in 1961, times were tough for the movie industry. The practice of heading out to a local theater was dying down, thanks to the affordability of television sets. Disney had just undertaken mass layoffs of personnel that it couldn’t convert to the live action projects that fueled ABC's "Wonderful World of Disney" broadcast.

There was talk about shutting down the animation studios completely, but Disney wanted to take one more shot at a feature-length project. "101 Dalmatians" didn’t just help keep the company alive, but can be credited with saving a dying industry. And it's notable how many times "101 Dalmations" has come out of the vault.

To save money and time, the animators used a Xerox process for the first time, eliminating the step of tracing the original animated frame to the cell that was painted and shot with a camera. If it wasn’t for the ability to make copies, there’s no way at that time for 101 dogs with more than 6 million spots could have made it to the big screen.

Lovers of animation, 3D graphics and Disney will call this Blu-ray release a "must have," just for the history told in the extras on the disc. It was the presentation of the short film and vintage original radio advertisements that clues the viewer in to how this short love tale is so important and a gateway to the wonderful animated movies of today. The vintage trailers and radio ads harken back to the original theater release in 1961, the first re-release in 1969, the anniversary release in 1979 and another theater run in 1985.

Younger viewers will like the inclusion of the all-new animated short "The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt," while those of us who remember Walt Disney on TV on Sunday nights can appreciate the classic "The Best Doggoned Dog in the World" as it was presented in 1961.

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