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Berlitz Summer Camp
by Michael Berick
$19.95, Universal Home Entertainment
Monster High is expanding. What started out as a gothy version of the Barbie doll has moved on to become a successful tween book series (penned by Gitty Danesvari). And now – just in time for Halloween – there is the first Monster High movie. This direct-to-DVD film shares some qualities with the Barbie films. Both place their characters in situations where they have to overcome obstacles and interpersonal conflicts and work as a team in order to be triumphant.
Monster High, however, has a bit of an advantage in transferring from doll to DVD because there is a bigger cast of characters who come with their own back stories. This film finds the Monster High teens facing off with the “normies” (humans) over Halloween. The humans, led by Lilith Van Hellscream, want to return to the true meaning of Halloween – “catching monsters.”
The story isn’t particularly complex but there are enough twists to hold kid’s interest and there are some clever bits (like the expression “oh my ghoul,” the use of an “iCoffin” and one character having to undergo a “trick-or-treatment”) to grab an adult’s attention. Monster High the film appeals to a slightly younger audience (8-10 year olds) than the books, but book fans will still enjoy this first Monster High movie, and non-fans can also like this us-against-them Halloween tale.
Michael also recommends …
Adventures of the Wilderness Family Vol. 1-3, $14.95, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
This trilogy of family films was a big success in the ’70s. Although not on the level of Little House On The Prairie, these G-rated stories, set in present day (or at least the ’70s) tell the story of the Robinson family, who move from L.A. to the country for a simpler, healthier life and encounter plenty of adventures in the wild.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits, $30.99, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
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Big Time Movie/Rags: Double Movie, $14.95, Nickelodeon/Paramount Home Entertainment
A double dose of tween musicals. Rags gives a twist to the Cinderella tale with its story of a pop princess and a poor orphan boy who dreams of being a singing star. Popular Nickelodeon-based band Big Time Rush has comical misadventures in London (and parents can have fun spotting the not-so-subtle Beatles references).
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