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Disney's August '09 Releases

Race to Witch Mountain (August 2/09)

Though clearly designed to echo the fun action/adventure fare that Disney once cranked out on a fairly regular basis, Race to Witch Mountain suffers from a pervasively stagnant atmosphere that effectively drains the energy right out of its high-octane moments - which, given that the film is essentially one long chase sequence, ensures that there's really never a point at which one is wholeheartedly drawn into the proceedings. The movie follows adolescent alien siblings Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) as they convince a Las Vegas cab driver (Dwayne Johnson's Jack Bruno) to help them track down their missing spaceship, with their ongoing efforts hindered by a team of persistent government agents (led by Ciaran Hinds' Henry Burke). The relatively promising nature of Race to Witch Mountain's setup is squandered time and again by screenwriters Matt Lopez and Mark Bomback, as the pair's efforts at capturing (and sustaining) the viewer's interest consistently fall flat and there's subsequently little doubt that the movie primarily comes off as a hollow, relentlessly noisy endeavor. It's just as clear that the roster of uniformly underdeveloped characters contributes heavily to the vibe of egregious emptiness, with Johnson's expectedly charismatic work almost compensating for the far-from-fleshed-out nature of his onscreen alter ego (almost). Director Andy Fickman's inexperience (and obvious discomfort) with this sort of endeavor results in a myriad of hopelessly incompetent and downright incoherent action set-pieces, and one ultimately can't help but wonder just which demographic Race to Witch Mountain has been geared toward (ie small children might find certain elements a little too scary, while the obnoxiously propulsive structure will surely alienate adults).

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The Tigger Movie (August 4/09)

Released theatrically in 2000, The Tigger Movie follows the title character (voiced by Jim Cummings) as he embarks on a quest to locate other members of his family - with such familiar faces as Winnie the Pooh (Cummings), Roo (Nikita Hopkins), and Eeyore (Peter Cullen) assisting the excitable tiger in his ongoing efforts. There's little doubt that The Tigger Movie, armed with an easygoing, downright low-key atmosphere, has been designed to appeal primarily towards younger audiences, with the almost simplistic storyline and emphasis on good-natured shenanigans certainly ensuring that kids will find plenty worth embracing here. It's just as clear, however, that older viewers will find themselves scratching their heads over the appeal of the Hundred Acre Wood's various denizens, as the characters, cute and personable as they may be, are simply not developed to the point where they can effectively sustain a feature-length endeavor. This is particularly true of Tigger himself; though he's certainly an endearing figure, Tigger's perpetual exuberance becomes increasingly tough to take as the movie unfolds and it's subsequently obvious that he's the sort of character that works best in small doses (ie it'd be like making a Seinfeld movie with just Kramer). And while it's hard to deny the strength of the thoroughly heartwarming conclusion, The Tigger Movie's pervasively innocuous sensibilities ensure that it ultimately manages to outstay its welcome in a fairly significant way (which is, given the running time of 77 minutes, no small feat).

out of

About the DVDs: Race to Witch Mountain arrives on home video armed with both Blu-ray and DVD copies of the film, while The Tigger Movie comes equipped with a surprisingly detailed 16X9 transfer. Both titles feature an impressive amount of bonus features.
© David Nusair