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Princess Protection Program: Royal B.F.F. Extended Edition DVD Review
|Princess Protection Program
Movie & DVD Details
Director: Allison Liddi-Brown / Writers: Annie DeYoung, David Morgasen
Cast: Demi Lovato (Rosalinda/Rosie), Selena Gomez (Carter Mason), Nicholas Braun (Ed), Molly Hagan (The Director), Johnny Ray Rodriguez (General Magnus Kane), Jamie Chung (Chelsea), Samantha Droke (Brooke), Robert Adamson (Donny), Kevin G. Schmidt (Bull), Dale Dickey (Helen), Sully Diaz (Sophia), Tom Verica (Joe Mason), Jessenia Da Silva Rios (Chloe), Angel Vazquez (Dimitri), Ricardo Alvarez (Senor Elegante)
Original Air Date: June 26, 2009 / Running Time: 89 Minutes (Extended Cut) / Rating: TV-G
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned; Most Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: June 30, 2009 / Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Black Keepcase
By Aaron Wallace
To say anything good about Princess Protection Program, I have to say a lot of bad things first. Likewise, to find anything enjoyable in the movie, you'll have to sit through some pretty unwatchable sequences at the beginning. Of course, to have any idea what I'm talking about, you'll also need me to answer your first question: "Princess what?"
Princess Protection Program is the new Disney Channel Original Movie starring Demi Lovato of Camp Rock fame and Selena Gomez from "Wizards of Waverly Place". In other words, this is the network's first chance to put their two fastest-rising stars together in something that fans of the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana will gobble up with super tween speed. That they were able to include royalty in that mix, reminding everyone of the success Disney's had with The Princess Diaries and a whole slew of crown-sporting animated heroines, only ups the profit potential and resulting need to get this movie out to its young public as soon as possible.
Perhaps that urgency of production explains the utterly nonsensical premise established in the movie's opening. Lovato plays Costa Lunan princess Rosalinda Maria Montoya Fiorι (four names, how royal!), who is just about to become queen when a sword is literally thrown at her face during the middle of the rehearsal crowning ceremony.
Fortunately, the royal families of the world have collectively foreseen just such a mutiny and established the privately-funded Princess Protection Program. This top-secret, high-tech organization is dedicated to ensuring the safety of threatened princesses all around the globe -- not princes, not kings or queens, not the offspring of rulers in non-monarchies, and not any other heir to the throne. There's only so much royal dough to spread around, it seems, and only princesses are worth spending it on. It's a good thing Princess Rosalinda's ceremony got hijacked before the Queen's crown was set upon her head or she'd be SOL.
Among the Princess Protection Program's many hidden agents is Joe Mason (Tom Verica), an officer posing as a bait shop owner. Major Mason is called upon to take Princess Rosalinda into hiding, which means bringing her home to Louisiana to room with his daughter, Carter (Gomez). You'll be shocked to learn that they don't get along at first but thanks to the trials and tribulations of high school, that begins to change.
As it turns out, this movie is really about the budding friendship between two girls and their joint overcoming of clique-fueled teenage drama. That story has been told many times before so a new perspective would be nice, but the poorly laid out government overthrow angle was the wrong way to do that. This TV movie simply doesn't have the time or the budget to tell that kind of story. As a result, every scene turning its attention to that backdrop feels excruciatingly artificial. Also not helping is the fact that the major plot twist hinges on an improbably well-stocked school library. The other scenes, which comprise the majority of the movie, are far less ambitious but also much less offensive.
Selena Gomez is a very funny young girl
Princess Protection Program will make its world debut on The Disney Channel this Friday, June 26. Just four days later, the movie comes to DVD, labeled as the Royal B.F.F. Extended Edition. I reviewed the extended cut prior to the screening of the televised version. Just how extended is the DVD? I suspect not very but I'll just have to tune in on Friday along with everyone else to find out! (Oh darn, I'm busy that night... and so is my TiVo.)
VIDEO and AUDIO
The video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This appears to be an entirely appropriate presentation. Disney Channel Original Movies have long been framed for both fullscreen and widescreen ratios, with only the former seeing the light of day in the US (at least until the rare Disney Channel Blu-ray release comes along). Kudos to Disney for getting with the times and finally issuing the generally preferable and HDTV-friendly widescreen presentation to DVD. That said, if Friday's telecast presents the movie in fullscreen, then the DVD should have preserved that as an alternative for those who prefer original broadcast aspect ratios.
Picture quality yields little complaint. Princess Protection Program looks better than a lot of Disney Channel Original Movies have and while the picture is sometimes too soft, it actually is pretty solid overall. The transfer to DVD provides no apparent reason for complaint.
Audio comes by way of a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track. During the loudest scenes, you might hear something from the rear channels if you hug the speaker to your ear and strain. Otherwise, you'll be getting your sound from the front three channels. That's fine, though, as the sound quality is consistently satisfactory and further channel separation would probably betray the movie's stereo presentation on TV.
French and Spanish subtitles and audio tracks are also made available. When the disc is inserted, you'll be asked to select your language before Disney's FastPlay commences.
BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING
The disc includes a small handful of bonus features, divided into two headings. Backstage Disney contains two featurettes. The first is "Royal & Loyal BFFs" (7:36), a behind-the-scenes fluff piece focused exclusively on one fact: Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato are best friends. Don't blink lest you miss the fleeting Joe Jonas cameo!
Next is "A Royal Reality" (5:00). This piece looks at real-life royalty: Princess India Oxenberg. The featurette is stingy with the details of the teenager's lineage, but we are told that she descends from the famous Anastasia and is related to Prince Charles.
Finally, under Music & More is the music video for "One and the Same" (3:04). The duet between Gomez and Lovato is instantly forgettable, as is its poorly lip-synched music video. At least it's in widescreen!
The 16x9 main menu is attractively designed, with cut-out images of the characters rotating as "One and the Same" plays. The disc is housed inside a standard black keepcase. For a limited time, that is supposed to be packaged in some kind of box with matching "Royal B.F.F." necklaces. My review copy carried no such add-on, though, leaving me and my B.F.F. royally disappointed. A booklet of ads, a Disney Blu-ray flyer, and a Disney Movie Rewards code (currently worth 100 points and a "Never B4 Seen" performance of Camp Rock's "Play My Music") are inside.
The Sneak Peeks on the disc are as follows: Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Princess and the Frog, Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Blu-ray: Magic in High-Def, Hannah Montana: The Movie, Race to Witch Mountain, "Sonny with a Chance", Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Earth, and a Double Feature DVD of Hatching Pete and Dadnapped. The disc also frustratingly features Disney's FastPlay.
I haven't seen every Disney Channel Original Movie, but I've seen quite a few and even written favorable reviews for a number of them. I've racked my brain and I can't think of one that I liked less than Princess Protection Program. Even at its best, the movie rises no higher than average, failing to distinguish itself from many other DCOMs with anything other than a very popular pairing of leads. At its worst, this tween-targeting flick is distractingly absurd. Within the next few days, you'll be presented with two different ways to see this movie. One of them is free, the other goes for a list price of $29.99. If you want to see this for the few laughs that Selena Gomez offers, I won't judge you -- just plan now and save your money.
Demi Lovato: Camp Rock | Selena Gomez: Wizards of Waverly Place: Wizard School Wizards of Waverly Place: Supernaturally Stylin'
New to DVD Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience (Extended Movie) Mr. Troop Mom Inkheart Confessions of a Shopaholic
Recent Disney Channel DVDs: Hatching Pete & Dadnapped Hannah Montana: The Complete First Season
Featuring Nicholas Braun: Minutemen Sky High | Selena Gomez Music Videos: Tinker Bell 101 Dalmatians
Guest-Starring Selena Gomez: Hannah Montana: One in a Million Hannah Montana: Life's What You Make It
Princesses: The Princess Diaries The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement Enchanted Disney DVD Game World: Disney Princess Edition
Famous Disney Channel Duos:
Troy & Gabriella: High School Musical High School Musical 2 | Taylor & Courtney: Cow Belles | Camryn & Alex: Twitches Twitches Too
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Reviewed June 25, 2009.