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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Cow Belles
Cow Belles
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // G // June 27, 2006
List Price: $26.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Cornelius | posted June 23, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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With apologies in advance to all young fans of Disney and pop music: until I was assigned to review the Disney Channel movie "Cow Belles," I had no idea who Aly and A.J. were. Further research tells me that the sisters - full names Alyson Michalka and Amanda Joy Michalka - are something of a pop sensation, with a hit album and songs in several (Disney) movies; they also have solid acting resum├ęs, with Aly appearing on Disney's series "Phil of the Future" and A.J. popping up on such shows as "Six Feet Under." Having learned all this, I'm still not sure which one's which, although they seem nice enough, and the whippersnappers seem to like 'em.

Their debut movie is apparently a big deal, being teen idols and all, and as such I feel bad for these girls - instead of something that really showcases their natural charms, they get stuck in a fairly bland by-the-numbers affair that was probably whipped together over a few off weeks. "Cow Belles" is a formula comedy all the way, and not a very smart or funny one, either. It has its moments, and it's pleasant enough that regular viewers of Disney Channel movies will enjoy themselves, but it's no keeper.

Spoiled sisters Taylor (Aly) and Courtney (A.J.) spend their days shopping and preparing for the big cotillion. Cause a truck to sink into a pond? Set your kitchen on fire? Don't worry: daddy's bank account has it covered. Ah, but daddy's wised up, and he's cutting up the credit cards and sending the girls to work at the dairy he owns. How much milk-spraying, yogurt-soaking havoc will these brats cause before they've learned A Few Valuable Lessons? (As such, Disney makes this the "Simple Life" that'll never happen; unlike those vacuous skeezes who somehow pass for celebrities, the spoiled gals here actually come to understand the value of a hard day's work, actually having a brain - one of the sisters is a math whiz, which is a good thing, kids! - and helping others.)

The plot kicks into gear when a generic villain skips town with the dairy's finances, and with daddy tricked into leaving town for the week, it's up to the girls to rally the workers and save the day. It's a storyline that has the feel of "well, we had to do something with these 100 minutes" written all over it, but it's not bad so much as it is slight. It's as if the people at Disney went to their Make Your Own Disney TV Movie Machine and pulled out cards reading "rich sisters," "dairy farm," and "family business in jeopardy" and called it a day. For filler, they also pulled out "bluegrass hoedown" (don't ask) and "hunky French exchange student" (seriously, don't ask).

It all adds up to just another generic Disney Channel Original, this time with up-and-coming teen superstars in the leads. It's sweet and mildly enjoyable in that Disney Channel way, but it's also instantly forgettable. (Heck, I just watched the thing and already I can't remember if it was Taylor or Courtney who, in a major plot point, just got her driver's license.)

The DVD

Video


What's with all the grain? For a brand new production, "Cow Belles" looks pretty lousy, with grain and fuzz and softness all over the place. What gives? Did it look this bad on TV? Presented in the original 1.33:1 broadcast format.

Audio

At least it sounds good. While there's not much call for Dolby 5.1 surround in a movie of this sort, the mix comes across crisp and clean. Optional English subtitles are offered.

Extras

"Behind the Scenes With Aly & A.J." runs just shy of seven minutes and contains your usual Disney making-of fluff. Some cute facts are presented here (Aly got her license just so she could drive in the movie, that sort of thing), while most of the time is spent with the sisters discussing their wardrobe.

Two music videos are also provided, for the sisters' "On the Ride" and "Rush." Both videos are surprisingly short - about a minute and a half each - although I'm not sure if these have been edited down somehow (perhaps for airplay between shows on the Disney Channel) or if the girls just make short tunes.

Rounding out the disc are the usual batch of Disney previews, some of which also play as the disc starts up (although, in merciful Disney tradition, these are skippable).

The cover art announces an "exclusive alternate ending," although with no such feature listed on the bonus features page, I will have to assume that this ending was incorporated into the actual film. I did not see the movie when it aired on TV, so I cannot compare endings. There is a tacked-on feel to one scene, so that must be it.

Final Thoughts

This one's for die-hard Disney Channel or Aly and A.J. fans only. Anyone else looking for some light, harmless entertainment, Disney Channel style, will do fine by just Renting It.
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