Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension:
With a very young daughter, and having never really subscribed to Cable TV, I've missed a lot of the good stuff. The stuff the kids are 'grooving on' these days. Yet somehow Phineas and Ferb is always there on the periphery, always threatening to jump into my life for good. Recommendations of Phineas come from friends who have both older kids and Cable TV, but often they come from older friends without kids, friends who have time to watch curious amounts of cartoons. Thus, when my family is on the road, the motel TV comes on and the girl and I settle down for some Phineas and Ferb. And it's usually at my urging, since I've now learned what makes the show so good.
But is the movie any good?
Absolutely it is, at least for this neophyte. Brothers Phineas and Ferb (and their mysterious platypus Perry) don't completely escape the perils all short-form cartoons face when making the leap to feature-length, but there's enough of the Disney Channel show's slightly-innocent charm, and everything else nice about the show, to lessen the symptoms of movie-itis. When Perry's nemesis Dr. Doofenshmirtz almost perfects a machine to transport him into other dimensions, Phineas and Ferb inadvertently send everyone into a parallel dimension with a much more evil and successful Dr. Doofenshmirtz. What happens after is as off-the-wall, exciting and kinda cute as you'd expect.
However, how do you reconcile a show you're used to swallowing in 12-minute doses with the reality of filling 77 minutes of screen time? With 2nd Dimension, as most all others, you fill it with plot (often through dialog-driven explanation scenes) and fights - both of which don't seem to be too high on the Phineas and Ferb to do list. (For example, a bonus episode included features Candace growing to a super height in order to become a model, but that's about it.) Thankfully, such bulked-up devices are still delivered with accessible yet trenchant wit, and the semi-wistful nostalgia that makes the show so appealing to adults.
Plus, there are all those wonderful songs - the movie starts with a Jackson Five-style ode to brotherhood that ramps things up nicely. The songs are funny and catchy, sounding enough like their inspirations to make you want to listen to them in the car. Which would be beside the point, since the songs are always presented in delightful music video form. Why is it so fun to watch the Phineas and Ferb characters wiggle their hips? While I would have wished for even more songs, at least we get one smash from 'Love Handel' - the rocking tune, "Robot Riot".
Phineas and Ferb get some help returning to their home dimension from their other-dimensional sister Candace, who does all sorts of awesome things like swinging on a giant garden gnome via grappling hook. In fact a lot of out-of-character fun is had with other-dimension characters; playing with their personalities and looks as well as getting a little deep into the nature of meeting your own self. So, by that token, most of this is above my 5-year-old's head, certainly the reference to Red Dawn, anyway. But for those a little (or a lot) older, there is plenty of humor - knowing or otherwise - to go along with the added fight scenes. And even during all the action there is enough character-enriching content, and awesome scenes of Perry the Platypus kicking robot chassis, to keep any type of kid satisfied.
Our 1.78:1 widescreen presentation enhanced for 16 X 9 TVs looks quite nice. It's not as sharp as Blu-ray of course, but looks more crisp and clear than you'd expect from a TV broadcast, with super colors that are nicely saturated. There aren't any compression or transfer problems of note.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio sounds fine and fantastic on my simple set-up. All is mixed well; songs are at the same level as dialog and other soundtrack elements, dynamic range is broad, and the mix is nice and active, which is appropriate for such an action-packed cartoon.
You may further be pleased with the extras available in this 2-Disk Fan Pack. Of course the second disk is mostly the ever popular 'Digital Copy' that you can download onto a computer or other computerized device. But that second disk also has 8 Music Tracks to listen to on your mp3 player while you're out and about. There is a Coupon for six dollars off when buying this movie and another Disney Channel Blu-ray or DVD, (I'm talking instant savings, baby!) which is affixed to the paperboard sleeve that houses the standard sized keepcase with flipper. You also get a cute Platypult Kit with which you can build a small plastic version of the device seen in the movie.
Furthermore, on disk one are a number of silly little Easter Eggs, (easy to find) one of which leads to an other-dimensional menu screen - a great touch indicative of the type of thought going into Phineas and Ferb in general. There are 8 minutes worth of Deleted Scenes including additional or extended songs among other stuff. You can get a taste of the television series with a Bonus Episode, the 12-minute-long "Attack of the 50 Foot Sister" which has its own extra, a Character Commentary that's quite funny. The Perry-oke mode pops sing-along lyrics up on the screen whenever a song begins, with Perry as the bouncing ball. Dr. D's Jukebox-inator grants access to the songs only, at which point you can also choose to watch them with or without Perry-oke mode. Probably last, most likely least, is a four-minute Disney Digital 3-D promotional spot featuring those loveable scamps from The Lion King. But keep looking, there's probably even more! (Like French and Spanish 5.1 Audio Tracks and English SDH or French and Spanish Subtitles.)
It's always a tough proposition to convert a 12-minute cartoon into a feature length movie, but Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension does the job nicely. Things are padded out a bit with more 'plot' and 'action' than is usual for this clever show, but those things that keep viewers of all ages coming back - tasteful pop culture references for parents, clever dialog, good-hearted characters and fun - are all present and delightful. Plus, the song crafting that makes Phineas and Ferb so much fun for aging rock-fans like me is there too. Maybe not enough, but that's my only complaint. Packed with extras and excitement, this 2-disk fan pack represents true family fun, and is Highly Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com