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Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams DVD Review

Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams DVD cover art Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams
Program & DVD Details

Director: David Block

Voice Cast: Susanne Blakeslee (Narrator), Erin Torpey (Aurora), Corey Burton (King Stefan), Barbara Dirikson (The Queen, Flora), Jeff Bennett (The Duke, King Hubert, Sultan), Roger Craig Smith (Prince Phillip), Russi Taylor (Fauna), Tress MacNeille (Merryweather), Linda Larkin-Vasquez (Jasmine), Gilbert Gottfried (Iago), Zack Shada (Hakeem), Tara Strong (Sharma), Frank Welker (Rajah, Abu)

Running Time: 56 Minutes / Rating: G / Release Date: September 4, 2007

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish, French)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
White Keepcase with Embossed, Holographic Cardboard Slipcover

In 2009, Disney re-packaged this DVD in a "Special Edition" with a brief bonus disc promoting The Princess and the Frog.
Click here to read our review of that edition, which replaced this original release.

By Renata Joy

Wanted or not, the Disney Princess line is back with its newest DVD creation. Unlike the previous releases, sing-along songs and recycled animation are not the main course. Lo and behold, the two stories presented in Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams are both entirely new; the first in a series of direct-to-DVD shorts featuring the Disney Princesses. This debut volume focuses on events involving Princesses Aurora (of Sleeping Beauty fame) and Jasmine (Aladdin's spirited love interest). It can't be denied that this strange pairing causes one to suspect a lame attempt at political correctness, Aurora being the traditional "white" princess, with Jasmine representing the non-European cultures. Whether such logic actually exists or not, here they are, Aurora and Jasmine. One can only hope that their tales will not be too painful to bear.

First up is "Keys to the Kingdom." Aurora is given reign of the castle while King Stefan is away at a royal convention with King Hubert, Prince Phillip, and Aurora's mother (who is disturbingly unnoticeable).
Merryweather gives Aurora her wand in case things get too difficult for the princess to handle. Trouble arises when Aurora give in to the easy way out (i.e. magic) when overwhelmed with stacks of paperwork and a number of complaining peasants. Comic relief (in intent rather than actuality) is provided by the easily frazzled duke, who strangely resembles The Hunchback of Notre Dame's Clopin, sans mask and Gypsy attire.

Next comes "More Than a Peacock Princess", in which Jasmine is feeling a little underwhelmed by her daily princess routine. As a remedy for the royalty blues, the Sultan finds her a job as teacher to a school full of unruly children. When Sahara -- the horse originally belonging to her mother -- escapes, Jasmine uses the lesson she learns in perseverance to deal with her students. Meanwhile, Jasmine's servant/nursemaid of sorts (who apparently still bathes her) attempts to create a diversion in order to prevent the Sultan from discovering the horse's absence. It can also be noted that while Abu, Iago, and Rajah are shown often, Aladdin is inexplicably out of town. Apparently princesses aren't allowed to have fun when their man is around.

Princess Aurora, alias Sleeping Beauty, welcomes you to her first new adventure in nearly 50 years. Sultan and Jasmine wonder why the part of Aladdin is being played by a young stable boy in "More Than a Peacock Princess."

The stories are on par with the typical direct-to-video release. Each one is briefly introduced by the appropriate princess, setting up the events the are about to occur and giggling a bit about the situation, all while clearly talking down to the audience. While neither is great, Jasmine's story is a little less grating on the nerves. That is most likely because she has appeared in the Aladdin sequels, not to mention the countless television episodes. The shock of seeing her design fluctuate from time to time or to hear her sing a song that is not up to theatrical release standards has long faded.

However, this is Aurora's first appearance since Sleeping Beauty, a film in which she stops speaking halfway in. I hate to classify Aurora as a passive heroine, but her character is underdeveloped to a large extent in the 1959 classic. For the most part, things happen to her rather than her making things happen. Therefore, it is more than a tad bit disconcerting to see her portrayed as an air-headed teenager who has an unexplained fondness for the color pink. I can only assume that many studies were conducted as to what color is found most appealing by a young girl, and blue must not have been the winner.

Not much more than a decade has passed since the release of Aladdin, and while the animation of this DVD is definitely not up to the same standards of Disney's mid-nineties features, the style has not changed greatly. Sleeping Beauty is not only a much older film, but also very stylized in design. I had at first believed that the animators who worked on this project had chosen to leave this aspect out until I noticed three very widely spaced trees that were mildly geometric in form. Well, at least they tried. In the nearly fifty years that have passed since Sleeping Beauty was first released, artistic ideals have changed. Aurora's new singing voice sounds more on the order of the modern princesses and is thus better suited to belting out pop tunes than art songs. In some ways, this is an improvement upon the unnaturally operatic voice that appeared in 2005's Princess Christmas Album. At the same time, it's hard to believe that a happier medium couldn't have been found. Jasmine, thankfully, is still voiced by Linda Larkin (now with the surname Vasquez) with Lea Salonga returning as her singing voice.

Jasmine seductively bathes in front of her utterly pleased nursemaid. Merryweather, Flora, and Fauna give some advice to Princess Aurora in "Keys to the Kingdom."

The amount of time since the respective princesses' first film appearance makes a huge difference in easily one can digest what is being presented. Perhaps if there had been a few Sleeping Beauty sequels released in the past decades' DTV boom, I might be less critical, but a viewing of The Wrath of Maleficent probably would not have increased my fondness in any way for this new story.
And, as already stated, the Jasmine story is not necessarily any better, it's just more expected. After all, to be blunt, the original Aladdin is the only genuinely good thing Jasmine has appeared in during her long animated career.

It is obvious that this release is aimed only at female viewers of pre-school age, and there is never any attempt at covering up this fact. Disney has always been known to produce output that is kid-friendly, but until recent years, their productions have also been known to appeal to families as a whole, i.e. viewers of all ages and genders. With each new DVD release (take a look at their depressing recent schedule), it becomes clearer that the Playhouse Disney sect has taken over. Inevitably, this DVD will be met with mixed reactions by the older Disney fans (those over the age of six). Some will be so overjoyed to see the princesses newly animated, Aurora especially, that they will overlook the many flaws. I place myself on the opposite, disillusioned side of the spectrum.

Naturally, the Walt Disney Company is a business, and it is entirely understandable that making money is the primary goal. Milking popular franchises for all they're worth is obviously the approach Disney has taken to remain profitable. The Enchanted Tales series has not been created because somebody felt that the Disney Princesses had more stories to tell. If that was the case, a lot more effort would have been put into this production, and more consideration would have been given to the people who have supported Disney long before any of today's pre-schoolers were born and who will probably continue to do so long after Little Einsteins DVDs have been packed away with baby clothes.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Being a brand new feature, there isn't much to complain about pertaining to picture quality. Granted, there is that sterile feel generally associated with direct-to video releases, but that is hardly unexpected. At least Disney hasn't disregarded widescreen TV owners, as the clean, vibrant 1.78:1 presentation is enhanced for 16x9 displays.

As far as sound goes, one might complain about the ever-present perky instrumentals, but that would belong in a different category altogether. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track employs the rear speakers primarily for gentle soundtrack reinforcement, but on occasion, there is the off-screen voice calling out from either direction.

Aurora Dress Up: Tiara or jester hat, what's a girl to choose? Follow the eaten apples to "Find Sahara" in this oh-so-stimulating set-top game.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Two games and a promotional music video are all that's to be had here. It can be assumed that there wasn't enough creative energy available
to supply both completely original material surrounding the Disney Princesses and an abundant supply of bonus features to boot. Either that or laziness is to blame.

In the first game, "Aurora Dress Up", it is apparent that Aurora lacks fashion sense. Therefore, it's up to you to decide exactly what she should wear. There are a few silly options to choose from, such as jester shoes and a nice big ruff collar. Unfortunately, you aren't allowed to pick anything that is not fit to be worn by a princess of the Disney variety, greatly lessening the fun aspect of the game.

"Find Sahara" requires a little more thought, thank goodness. The goal is to put clues together to find the said horse. Once again, however, you are forbidden to follow the wrong clues. Is there any room for silliness in the Disney Princess realm? I guess not. There are only three versions of the game, so unless you happen to have a very bad memory, there isn't a lot of replay value.

Belle serenades her pachyderm-resembling pottery friend in a music video that ineffectively promotes Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Kingdom of Kindness. The disc's Main Menu recreates the storybook from the opening sequence of "Sleeping Beauty", probably the only aspect that emulates the original classic.

With the games out of the way, all that is left is the music video, "You'll Never Lose This Love" (2:03), supposedly from a future Enchanted Tales release entitled Kingdom of Kindness (one of this volume's working titles). Sung by Belle, it resembles the songs from the two shorts on this DVD in that it is neither memorable nor entirely repulsive. The animation is also on the same scale. At moments, Belle becomes almost grotesquely off-model and Mrs. Potts tends to resemble a very pale and rosy-cheeked elephant instead of a teapot. I suppose this was included to make the viewer anticipate the upcoming release.
I consider it to be a friendly warning that the quality of the Disney Princess line will not be improving any time soon.

The disc opens with previews for The Jungle Book: Platinum Edition, Enchanted, My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie, and Little Einsteins: Race For Space. From the menu, you are given the privilege of viewing additional trailers for Meet the Robinsons, Tinker Bell, High School Musical 2: Extended Edition, and more Disney Princess Enchanted Tales (a yet-to-be-titled disc with Cinderella and Mulan stories), and a Disney Parks promo.

The menu opens with a voiceover channeling Julie Andrews that introduces what is called the "storybook cawstle", apparently a place where you go to hear stories about princesses. That is funny, because I watched this DVD at my home, which is definitely not a castle, British accent or not. The menus resemble the storybook from the opening sequence of Sleeping Beauty, probably the only aspect that emulates the original classic.

The DVD case is shockingly white, unlike the typically pink cases of previous Princess releases, and is encased in a holographic gold slipcover. Those who frequent the toy aisle or have recently checked out what The Disney Store has to offer by way of Princess merchandise might have noticed the same garish gold motif. Most will be relieved to know that these gold items play no role in the features themselves; they're merely a marketing ploy to dupe people into buying things they already have in different packaging. However, everyone knows that all princesses in their right minds much prefer platinum to gold, or, if they happen to be on a budget, white gold to yellow gold. Inside the DVD case are the expected advertisements, including some for those products I just mentioned with all the ugly gold frills. Unfortunately, there are no coupons. Just ads, ads, a Disney World contest entry form, and some more ads. And just in case you wanted to check out some more advertising, there is a spot reserved on the insert to promote "Hannah Montana" DVDs.

Jasmine is more than a peacock princess, but that doesn't mean she can't surround herself with peacocks on occasion. Hurray for off-model characters! Long live the Disney Princess Enchanted Tales!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Those who have read this and my past reviews probably think that I don't like the Disney Princesses at all and wonder why such a hater is allowed to repeatedly cover the latest additions to their DVD line. However, a true aficionado is capable of recognizing when something is amiss, and that is the case here. It is hard to praise a pairing of two half-hour "movies", created with standards not much higher than those of a Saturday morning cartoon, that are being marketed as a full-length movie. Many will purchase this DVD regardless. But, if you can't resist temptation, at least make sure that you don't buy it at its $26.99 list price. Not all Disney Princess merchandise should be boycotted, but selective purchasing habits should definitely be practiced. Hold out for something better worth your time and money.

Updated 2009 Release with Bonus Disc: Read our Review, Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams (Special Edition with Bonus Disc)
Sleeping Beauty (Platinum Edition) Aladdin (Platinum Edition) The Return of Jafar & Aladdin and the King of Thieves
Disney Princess Stories: Volume 1 - A Gift from the Heart Disney Princess Stories: Volume 2 - Tales of Friendship
Disney Princess Stories: Volume 3 - Beauty Shines from Within Disney Princess Sing Along Songs: Volume 1 - Once Upon a Dream
Disney Princess Sing Along Songs: Volume 2 - Enchanted Tea Party Disney Princess Sing Along Songs: Volume 3 - Perfectly Princess
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Treat Cinderella III: A Twist in Time Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment
Disney DVD Game World: Disney Princess Edition Return to Halloweentown Little Einsteins: Rocket's Firebird Rescue

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Reviewed September 3, 2007.