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The Proud Family Movie DVD Review

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Movie & DVD Details

Director: Bruce W. Smith

Voice Cast: Kyla Pratt (Penny Proud), Tommy Davidson (Oscar Proud), Jo Marie Payton-Noble (Suga Mama), Arsenio Hall (Dr. Carver, Bobby Proud), Paula Jai Parker (Trudy Parker-Proud), Orlando Brown (Sticky Webb), Soleil Moon Frye (Zoey), Alisa Reyes (LaCienega Boulevardez), Karen Malina White (Dijonay Jones), Omarian (Fifteen Cent), Tara Strong (Cashew, Bebe Proud, Cece Proud), Jeremy Suarez (Wally), Alvaro Guttieriez (Papi), Aries Spears (Wizard Kelly, Board Member), Raquel Lee (Nubia Gross), Big Boy (Himself)

Original Air Date: August 19, 2005 / Running Time: 91 Minutes (Original Cut), 95 Minutes (Alternate Extended Version) / Rating: TV-G

1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: December 6, 2005
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase

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By Aaron Wallace

"The Proud Family" launched on the Disney Channel in 2001 in an effort to broaden the network's scope of racial diversity. With storylines that touch on racial harmony and black history, dialogue that is playfully laced with Ebonics, and a theme song by R&B group Destiny's Child, the cartoon series clearly seems targeted toward a specific demographic (or stereotype, depending on how you read it).
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That doesn't mean its appeal is limited, though, nor does it come off as racially insensitive. The series doesn't stack up against the best of television animation, but it's entertaining enough to divert and never annoying enough to repel.

Like most shows originating on the Disney Channel, "The Proud Family" enjoyed a sporadic span of four years on the air before having the plug pulled after about three seasons' worth of episodes. There was a time when Disney's shows would end abruptly on an episode like any other without offering any sense of finality. Fortunately, it seems those days are gone. Today, they're often sent off with a feature-length film finish and that's exactly what The Proud Family Movie is.

How many people bring all their friends along for driver's ed? The evil Dr. Arsenio Hall.

The nature of the series-turned-movie is typically adventuresome, suggesting something a bit more eventful. In the Proud Family's case, the event at hand is quite a departure from the series itself. The central character, Penny Proud (voiced by Kyla Pratt), is still at odds with her family and friends as she approaches her
sixteenth birthday (apparently a milestone worth ending on). As usual, her father, Oscar Proud (Tommy Davidson) disapproves of her youthful behavior and refuses permission for her to appear in rapper Fifteen Cent's new music video let alone to date him, which is exactly what Penny wants to do.

That's all fairly standard "Proud Family" material, but what takes this story out of the ordinary is the other plot line: Oscar's invented a new peanut-based snack that catches the eye of Dr. Carver (former TV host Arsenio Hall), a demented, peanut-obsessed scientist who invites the Proud family to his private island, where he and his squad of peanut clones are prepared to use any means necessary to capture Oscar's snack formula for their own means. Even Penny's amusing grandmother, better known as Suga Mama ("Family Matters"' Jo Marie Payton-Noble) tags along. The story plays out more like The Incredibles than an episode of "The Proud Family," but as it stays true to the characters, it doesn't feel entirely out of place and the quirky premise seems excusable. While it's hardly hilarious or thrilling -- nor does it entirely finalize the series -- it's thoroughly diverting and manages to tie together various elements of the original show. A DVD release of every episode may be in store, but in the meantime, "Family" fans will likely want to seize this opportunity to own at home this notable excursion with the Prouds.

Straight out the candy shop, Fifteen Cent takes Penny in da club 'cuz he's a P.I.... Suga Mama to the rescue!

VIDEO and AUDIO

The 1.33:1 fullscreen presentation is true to the original broadcast aspect ratio for the movie and is therefore valid, though a brief advertisement on this disc suggests that it may also have been simultaneously composed for 16x9, as is sometimes the case with Disney Channel Original Movies (begging the question: "why make it and never use it?"). Clean and sparkling, the transfer is flawless. "The Proud Family" has an animation style of its own, one that isn't particularly advanced (but then this is television animation, after all), but the video presentation serves it as well as can be expected.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track is more center channel-intensive than one would have hoped, with the majority of the dialogue and sound effects emanating from the middle speaker. The other channels come into play in the delivery of the score and are to be commended to some degree for nearly always taking part of the sound delivery. The subwoofer has a modest role, but is active nonetheless. The sound quality itself is pleasing and never disappoints. The "Proud Family Shorties" (see below) are presented in stereo.

In one of the bonus shorts, Suga Mama rebounds off the wires and goes for a clothesline. "Penny's Driver's Ed. Game" The 16x9 main menu screen.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and DESIGN

The packaging promises an "extended alternate ending" (3:25), which is actually just extended (not so much "alternate"). Directly after the final scene of the original cut, a "three weeks later" caption leads an overly gimmicky scene in which Oscar's formula has an adverse effect on Suga Mama and her pet dog, Puff (Carlos Alazraqui). The added ending feels more like a separate short designed to depict life beyond the movie for the Prouds. While its inclusion is worthwhile, it's best to view it on its own in the Bonus Features section rather than play it along with the rest of the film (that option is presented after selecting "Play" from the main menu).

Similarly, there are four "Proud Family Shorties" here which are, as expected, animated shorts that you may have seen on the Disney Channel. Each features only the supporting family members: Suga Mama, poodle puppy Puff, the infant twins Bebe and Cece, and a cameo from Suga Mama's Spanish-speaking sweetheart, Papi (Alvaro Guttierez). In "The Picnic", "The Beach", and "Toy Store EEE!!!", it's the twins versus Puff while an aloof Suga Mama does a poor job at baby-sitting. Tables turn in "Let's Wrestle", when they all team up to battle a burglar. All four are made in the mold of Disney's Donald shorts and are actually
quite enjoyable and a pleasure to have available for repeat viewing. A "Play All" feature is made available, and all together they run nearly 12 minutes.

"Penny's Driver's Ed. Game" puts players in the car with Penny as she takes her driving test with the instructor seen in the movie's opening. The game applies pressure and is quite funny, but even making the right moves won't gain the instructor's approval (apparently it's better to swerve out of pedestrians' way than it is to slow down and let them continue on).

The tropical main menu presents all the standard options against a still graphic while a piece of the score plays. The same is true for all the sub-menus. The disc opens with previews for Lady and the Tramp (which has been opening Disney discs for quite some time now, much to the frequent viewer's annoyance), The Wild and The Shaggy Dog, Kronk's New Groove, "That's So Raven": Raven's House Party, and this very movie. Another "Raven" preview can be found inside the main menu, along with looks at Valiant and Sky High.

Penny's not enjoying the vacation quite as much as her  family members. Penny finally gets her license in the extended ending,  though that's not its focus.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Proud Family Movie provides an adequate but not outstanding end to an average but likable animated series. Familiarity with or fondness for the original show aren't necessities for understanding it, but the movie doesn't impress enough to garner a recommendation for those who haven't already taken to "The Proud Family". Fans (even casual ones), however, are likely to find a nice little diversion in this release and the satisfactory presentation and bonus short subjects only serve to sweeten this nutty deal.

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Reviewed January 12, 2006.