Last Minute Video Considerations – Family Edition
The Blu-ray conversion process continued throughout the year and there’s something for everyone. As the hours dwindle towards Santa’s arrival, here’s a trio of family-friendly Blu-ray offerings that are perfect – as long as you don’t have these on standard DVD. Warner Home Video wisely released A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas some weeks back, completing the hat trick with the Blu-ray debut of Horton Hears a Who!
These are basically the standard DVDs upgraded to Blu-ray so everything looks and sounds marvelous. All the standard DVD extras are still here so there’s little to compel you to upgrade, especially since the prices treat these like the full-length feature films when the reality is, these were thirty minute television specials.
None of the above robs the trio from their power to entertain. The Charlie Brown special, which has been collected in multiple DVD sets, remains the king of them all as it pokes fun at the commercialization of the holiday and Linus’ speech at the end refocuses attention to the spiritual side of the holiday. With Vince Guaraldi’s amazing jazz score, this remains the gold standard.
Also earning the gold is Chuck Jones, who brilliantly adapted Dr. Seuss Grinch. He buried his own art style in favor of bringing the book to life, adding all the right touches. Having Boris Karloff narrate was a stroke of genius and the original score and songs only added to the surreal qualities that we adore about Seuss.
This Horton is the 1970 version, which is a pretty fair adaptation. Also from Chuck Jones, it shows how cheap animation had gotten in the four years between his Grinch and Horton, as the cartoon looks more limited. The adaptation boasts the usual voice actors of the era including the wonderful Hans Conreid as Horton and the narrator; June Foray and Ravenscroft.
As Blu-rays, they all look pretty fine, notably The Grinch. The extras contain making of featurettes across the thee along with biographical notes on the cast and crew, and other bits and pieces. Best are the extra animated fare such as It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown, the lesser known 1992 follow-up Peanuts Christmas special or the other animated Seuss tales Daisy-Head Mayzie and. Butter Battle Book. The Grinch has the annoying Phil Hartman history from TNT but makes up for it with a nice spotlight on singer Thurl Ravenscroft and composer Albert Hague. Horton also contains the 1994 special, In Search of Dr. Seuss, which is a loving portrait of the genius.
It should be noted that the specials come as combo sets complete with standard DVD and digital copy (Windows only). If you don’t own any version, this clearly is the one to get – just find the right sale.