National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

DVD Picks 08.29.2010

BY Steven D. Greydanus, Register Film Critic

August 29-September 11, 2010 Issue | Posted 8/20/10 at 3:15 PM


Shaun the Sheep: Party Animals (2010)

Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special (1978)

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)

What’s new on DVD in this two-week period? Um … pretty much nothing worth talking about. No, really. In all the years I’ve been writing this column, I can’t remember two weeks of such home-video famine. Even stuff not worth recommending isn’t worth the trouble of saying so. (Does anyone want or need three inches of column space on how lame Marmaduke was?)

So … for the first time ever, I’m going to cheat and look ahead to the first week in September. (Don’t worry, there’s enough coming down the pike for next issue’s column.)

So what’s worth looking forward to on Sept. 7? Among other things, animated family fare. Most worth getting: Aardman Animations’ fave Shaun the Sheep is back in Shaun the Sheep: Party Animals, the latest collection of Shaun’s seven-minute adventures from the hit BBC series.

The title episode, which features a couple of the farm animals’ most brazen invasions of the farmhouse to date, is a highlight, as is the prominent involvement of the Naughty Pigs in a number of episodes. Barnyard power plays are a recurring theme, with Shaun impersonating the Farmer in one episode, and the Naughty Pigs stepping into the power vacuum when Bitzer is sidelined in another. Plus, Pidsley the scheming cat is back, trying to get the pigs in trouble. Great fun, as always!

Other coming releases include a couple of Halloween-themed TV specials from back in the day. The better of the two, of course, is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, newly available in a Blu-ray/DVD pack. Charles Schulz’s bitterly funny Halloween parable is also available in a number of other editions, including holiday editions that also include “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and others. In any format the cartoon is a keeper, though you’d probably be better served to get it in some other form than this Blu-ray/DVD edition.

Then there’s Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special, available on DVD for the first time. I have fond memories of watching this one on television as a kid, but viewed as an adult fan of the Looney Tunes source material, it must be admitted that it hacks up some classic cartoons in the service of a pretty uninspired pastiche.

What makes it just passable kiddie entertainment is the seasonal appeal of bits and pieces from Bugs Bunny’s spookier adventures collected into a 25-minute presentation. It would be better to have one nice collection of all the original shorts — but since we don’t, Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special is acceptable Halloween-party fare for even the youngest viewers.

Content advisory: Shaun the Sheep and Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special: Mild slapstick and occasional rude humor. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Nothing objectionable. All fine family viewing.