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review by Zach B.
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Lloyd, Danny Woodburn, George Wendt, Tom Bosley, Field Cate, Tim
Conway, Josh Flitter, Skyler Gisondo, Richard Kind, Liliana Mumy, Ty
Written by: Robert Vince and Anna McRoberts
Directed by: Robert Vince
Features: Sing-Along Songs, Music Video
Specs: 1.78:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master
Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby
Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles,
Released: November 24th, 2009
"Santa Buddies" is presented in a 1080p high definition
widescreen transfer, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Even though this
is a direct-to-DVD feature, it actually looks rather bold and vivid.
Detail is very refined, and color saturation is very sharp: be it the
reds of the Santa costumes or the crisp ice blues of the North Pole.
Overall image quality is bright, and black levels are strong too.
Still, perhaps a downside to all this resolution is that the visual
effects don't look quite seamless. Yes, this was a movie made on the
cheap, but everything here is really glaring: the obvious green screen
work, very CGI-reindeer and the dogs talking. It might get annoying (or
perhaps humorous) for adults to see the cheesy production values, but I
think kids will be too into the movie to really notice or care. Yet,
despite all that, this is a pretty spiffy transfer.
"Santa Buddies" is presented with a English 5.1 DTS-HD Master
Audio track. I have to say, this track is a lot more lively than I
expected. The score from Brahn Wenger brings warmth to the channels,
while the standard Christmas music is mixed nicely to create ambiance.
Sound effects have some bounce, and make good use of the rear speakers:
be it some craziness in Santa's toy factory or some sleigh action. As
far as other elements, dialogue sounds crystal clear and comes through
perfectly. Subwoofer use is more-than-decent, too. Not a show-off piece
to be sure, but your ears might be surprised at how immerseive and
strong this track is. It's all pretty excellent for this movie, and how
it all syncs.
English, Spanish and French subtitles are included, as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish.
Not much, really. There are three Sing Along Songs (all Christmas tunes, naturally) for all the kiddie carolers out there, plus as Music Video for "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" by Steve Rushton (who?).
A copy of the standard DVD is also included.
I still say the "Buddies" franchise is one of the strangest things
Disney has put
out, but for kids I can understand the appeal. A holiday-themed
adventure seems like the perfect opportunity to make this series even
more profitable (and adults, take note: watch for Christopher Lloyd and
George Wendt phoning in their performances). For families with a good
home theater set-up, this is the way to go: not only do you get the
Blu-ray (which sports a solid DTS Master track and colorful transfer)
but also a copy of the standard DVD too. Extras are very sparse, but
that shouldn't be a concern: this seems like a movie that kids are sure
to watch again and again and again until the Christmas season is over.