Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover is not horrible, but it is pretty bland. We get a shot of the three Russo kids holding magic wands, with a tropical island background. The menu is kind of the same, with an island feel. Overall they fit the movie, but are just average.
I will comment on the included “Stone of Dreams” key-chain that comes with the “Extended Edition” of the movie, which is basically a mood ring on a key-chain, complete with a wizards guide to wishing. It is a nice addition, and while not exactly tempting as a collectible, for young kids it is something “magical” that adds to the feel of the whole experience.
- Insider’s Exclusive On Location – I had to check to make sure that my disc was working, as there is only one extra included in the “Extended Edition” of this movie. This is a Disney release right?? No music videos by Selena Gomez? Nothing but a 10 minute making of feature. It is a decent extra, but I was blown away that this was it. I mean if they are going to package this with a key-chain, I would have at least expected a bit more in terms of extras.
The Movie: 6/10
I have seen the Wizards of Waverly Place show a few times, and I understand the premise. The show seems a bit of a lower budget ordeal than some of the Disney Channel shows, but overall it seems to be a strong show for the channel. The Wizards of Waverly Place is about the Russo family, which features David Delouise (Dom’s son) as Jerry Russo, who was a Wizard, but left that life basically behind when he fell in love and married Theresa (Maria Canal-Barrera), who is a regular human woman. The couple had three children Justin (David Henrie), Alex (Selena Gomez), and Max (Jake T. Austin). The siblings are all wizards in training, and the ongoing battle of the show (and the movie) is that only one wizard can emerge from each family, so their really is sibling rivalry in this crew.
The movie starts off with the Russo family preparing for a Carribean vacation, and mom Theresa, who is sick of the magic and the bickering, deems the trip to be magic free, which of course enrages the kids. As the family embarks on their trip, the kids want little to do with the sight seeing and family activities, and at one point, the enraged Alex makes the statement that she wishes her parents never met. Unfortunately for her, she is holding a magic wand tat the time, and a spell is cast which does exactly that. We then see the kids try to get the two adults to fall in love all over again while at the resort, as the kids slowly start to fade from reality (think Back to the Future.)
The movie starts off rather slow, but it picks up speed as the story unfolds, and while there are hints of numerous other movies mixed in (and even a kind of Brady Bunch in Hawai’i theme), the overall movie ends up being decent. The production value is quite good and the removal of the canned laugh track does wonders for this movie. Overall the feel is quite good, and while the story is a bit goofy, the end result is decent.
The acting is not bad either, and the fact that the family pulls together in the end is a nice touch. Overall the Wizards of Waverly Place movie drew big numbers when it debuted on the Disney Channel, and for good reason. It is not a type of movie that you should wade into without knowing the background of the television show, but don’t expect the show to look this good.
Apparently the “Extended Edition” includes about 4 minutes of extra footage, which is enough to call this an extended version of the movie, but not by much. I like the movie much more than I thought I would, but I still have a hard time watching the show on the Disney Channel, with its low production values and laugh tracks. Perhaps the fact that the movie did so well means that the fans of Waverly Place might get to see some additional money spent on the television show. This is not a movie that I will readily watch again, so I guess the real measure of how well you will like this movie depends solely on whether you are a fan of the television show or not. If not, this movie is probably not for you.
Audio & Video: 7/10
Both the audio and the video for this standard DVD release were really good. The movie is presented in wide screen 1.78:1, which is different than the television show, and the production value is very high, with nice rich location shots. The audio is also very nicely done, with crisp, 5.1 Surround Sound which is adequately used.
You really have to be a fan of the television show to run out and buy the Wizards of Waverly Place Movie, and while the movie is leaps and bounds above any of the shows that I have seen on the Disney Channel, this is just okay as a movie. I will say that it got better as the movie went on, but it still was not what I would call a great Disney Channel movie. Add to that the one extra feature, and this “Extended Edition” just doesn’t add up to a purchase.
Overall Score 6/10