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|A Bug's Life [VHS]
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Disney's cartoon comedy for the whole family.
There was such a magic on the screen in 1995 when the people at Pixar came up with the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story. Their second feature film, A Bug's Life, may miss the bull's-eye but Pixar's target is so lofty, it's hard to find the film anything less than irresistible.
Brighter and more colorful than the other animated insect movie of 1998 (Antz), A Bug's Life is the sweetly told story of Flik (voiced by David Foley), an ant searching for better ways to be a bug. His colony unfortunately revolves around feeding and fearing the local grasshoppers (lead by Hopper, voiced with gleeful menace by Kevin Spacey). When Flik accidentally destroys the seasonal food supply for the grasshoppers he decides to look for help ("We need bigger bugs!"). The ants, led by Princess Atta (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), are eager to dispose of the troublesome Flik. Yet he finds help--a hearty bunch of bug warriors--and brings them back to the colony. Unfortunately they are just traveling performers afraid of conflict.
As with Toy Story, the ensemble of creatures and voices is remarkable and often inspired. Highlights include wiseacre comedian Denis Leary as an un-ladylike ladybug, Joe Ranft as the German-accented caterpillar, David Hyde Pierce as a stick bug, and Michael McShane as a pair of unintelligible pillbugs. The scene-stealer is Atta's squeaky-voiced sister, baby Dot (Hayden Panettiere), who has a big sweet spot for Flik.
More gentle and kid-friendly than Antz, A Bug Life's still has some good suspense and a wonderful demise of the villain. However, the film--a giant worldwide hit--will be remembered for its most creative touch: "outtakes" over the end credits à la many live-action comedy films. These dozen or so scenes (both "editions" of outtakes are contained here) are brilliant and deserve a special place in film history right along with 1998's other most talked-about sequence: the opening Normandy invasion in Saving Private Ryan.
The video also contains Pixar's delightful Oscar-winning short, Geri's Game. Box art varies. --Doug Thomas
|Pokemon - I Choose You! Pikachu! (Vol. 1) [VHS]
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|Jasmine's Enchanted Tales: Jasmine's Wish [VHS]
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Jasmine's Enchanted Tales: Jasmine's Wish [VHS]
|Aladdin [VHS] (1995)
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Robin Williams plays the genie
Disney's 1992 animated feature is a triumph of wit and skill. The high-tech artwork and graphics look great, the characters are strong, the familiar story is nicely augmented with an interesting villain (Jafar, voiced by Jonathan Freeman), and there's an incredible hook atop the whole thing: Robin Williams's frantically hilarious vocal performance as Aladdin's genie. Even if one isn't particularly moved by the love story between the title character (Scott Weinger) and his girlfriend Jasmine (Linda Larkin), you can easily get lost in Williams's improvisational energy and the equally entertaining performances of Freeman and Gilbert Gottfried (as Jafar's parrot). --Tom Keogh
- Black Diamond Collectors item
|Blue's Clues - Arts & Crafts [VHS]
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If the phrase "Blue scadoo, we can, too" means anything to you, and you know that salt and pepper are actually a married couple with French accents, you probably have a potential consumer of this 50-minute video residing in your household. During two 25-minute segments, our host Steve and his animated dog Blue together serve as a Martha Stewart for preschoolers by showing them how to make a stage-worthy sock puppet, bake a scrumptious banana cake, and mix yellow and red paint for that perfect shade of orange. Now the tricky part of owning this tape is that your child is going to want to sew, bake, and paint each time he or she watches this stimulating video. Are you prepared for such chaos? --Kimberly Heinrichs
|Peanuts: You Don't Look 40 Charlie Brown [VHS]
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This 40th anniversary celebration features favorite moments from four decades of Charles M. Schulz's beloved "Peanuts" specials. Also features an interview with the successful creator.
|100 Percent Reboot
|Tarzan (Walt Disney) [VHS]
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Wild with exotic adventure and laughs, Disney's TARZAN(R) is a magnificent adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic story of the ape man! Raised by a family of gorillas, including the loving Kala and the wisecracking Terk, Tarzan develops all the instincts and prowess of a jungle animal. But with the sudden appearance of Tarzan's own kind, including the beautiful Jane, two very different worlds are about to become one. Driven by five powerful songs from pop superstar Phil Collins, and starring the voice talents of Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, and Rosie O'Donnell, Disney's TARZAN delivers incredible adventure as well as important reminders about acceptance and family!
After viewing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote to Walt Disney about adapting his novel of an ape-man into a feature animated cartoon. Sixtysome years later, the tale is finally told with brilliant design work that looks unlike any previous animated film. The story is a natural for Disney since the themes of misunderstood central figures have been at the heart of its recent hits. Disney's Tarzan doesn't wander far from the familiar story of a shipwrecked baby who is brought up by apes in Africa. What gives the film its zing is its clever use of music (the songs are sung by Phil Collins himself rather than onscreen characters) and the remarkable animation. Deep Canvas, a 3-D technology, was developed for the film, creating a jungle that comes alive as Tarzan swings through the trees, often looking like a modern skateboarder racing down giant tree limbs. The usual foray of sidekicks, including a rambunctious ape voiced by Rosie O'Donnell, should keep the little ones aptly entertained. The two lead voices, Tony Goldwyn as Tarzan and Minnie Driver as Jane, are inspired choices. Their chemistry helps the story through the weakest points (the last third) and makes Tarzan's initial connection with all things human (including Jane) delicious entertainment. Disney still is not taking risks in its animated films, but as cookie-cutter entertainment, Tarzan makes a pretty good treat. (Ages 5 and up) --Doug Thomas
|Lost Cities of the Bible
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|My Neighbor Totoro [VHS]
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My Neighbor Totoro is that rare delight, a family film that appeals to children and adults alike. While their mother is in the hospital, 10-year-old Satsuki and 4-year-old Mei move into an old-fashioned house in the country with their professor father. At the foot of an enormous camphor tree, Mei discovers the nest of King Totoro, a giant forest spirit who resembles an enormous bunny rabbit. Mei and Satsuki learn that Totoro makes the trees grow, and when he flies over the countryside or roars in his thunderous voice, the winds blow. Totoro becomes the protector of the two sisters, watching over them when they wait for their father, and carrying them over the forests on an enchanted journey. When the children worry about their mother, Totoro sends them to visit her via a Catbus, a magical, multilegged creature with a grin the Cheshire Cat might envy.
Unlike many cartoon children, Satsuki and Mei are neither smart-alecky nor cloyingly saccharine. They are credible kids: bright, energetic, silly, helpful, and occasionally impatient. Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki makes the viewer believe the two sisters love each other in a way no American feature has ever achieved. My Neighbor Totoro is enormously popular in Japan, and some of the character merchandise has begun to appear in America. The film has also inspired a Japanese environmental group to buy a Totoro Forest preserve in the Saitama Prefecture, where Miyazaki's film is set. --Charles Solomon
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