Disney Television Animation (2014), Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (November 11, 2014), 1 Disc, 44 mins, 16:9 ratio, Dolby Digital 2.0, Not Rated, Retail: $19.99
Two brothers leave their desert planet to become embroiled in a galactic conflict. And, a platypus stalks an evil Sith wannabe.
The Sweatbox Review:
Ah, corporate synergy. Disney fans have been a little excited but mostly terrified at the prospect of that sinister term ever since Disney acquired both Marvel Comics and the Star Wars franchise. Even before the acquisitions, visitors to the Disney parks had already seen cooperative marketing between Lucasfilm and Disney (think Jedi Mickey bobble heads, one of which is on display in my home); but having Donald Duck, Luke Skywalker, and Captain America all under the same corporate umbrella surely had to lead to more advanced and perhaps unwelcome team-ups. It would be all too easy for things to go wrong.
However, while fans dreaded the thought of Goofy finding his way into a rebooted Howard The Duck film series, the first on-screen team-ups to occur between Disney and its new children would take place within a surprising context: their highly-rated Disney Channel series Phineas And Ferb. First, there was Mission Marvel in 2013. Then, July of 2014 saw the television premiere of Phineas And Ferb Star Wars, officially episodes 27 and 28 of the hit show’s fourth season.
Now, I have a confession to make. Reviewing this DVD was my first time watching an entire episode of Phineas And Ferb. My kids do enjoy the show and have played the Wii game, and my daughter loves her stuffed Perry The Platypus; but I had never caught more than a couple of minutes of the series. Visually, it didn’t really appeal to me; but with this DVD release it was nice to have an excuse to give it a better shot. This DVD includes not only the hour-long Phineas And Ferb Star Wars, but also a few additional special episodes.
For fellow novices, the basic set-up of the show is that two stepbrothers (uncharacteristically friendly towards one another, considering Disney film history) make a daily decision to create something or have an adventure. Their older sister, Candace, is constantly at odds with their ideas, and wishes to “bust” them by tattling on them to their mother. In the “B” story of each episode, the boys’ pet platypus Perry goes on secret missions as “Agent P,” and battles the dastardly Dr. Doofenshmirtz. When Agent P’s efforts foil Doof at the end of the show, the result typically also erases any evidence of what the boys have been up to, much to the frustration of Candace.
Phineas And Ferb Star Wars is not so much a spoof of Star Wars, but rather it is an exploration of what may have happened around the margins of the original film (or for you modern kids, Star Wars – Episode Four: A New Hope). The Phineas And Ferb characters move around and through Star Wars, often reacting to what’s happening without interfering, and often their own story reflects aspects of the larger Star Wars story. It all begins with a slight continuity tweak, with Perry stealing the plans for the Death Star and delivering them to Princess Leia aboard her ship. As Leia loads the plans into R2-D2, she is being observed by three imperial Stormtroopers— Candace, Baljeet, and Buford, all characters from the regular P And F show. The trio are discouraged from following up on this, as their commanding officer prefers for them to look for socks for Darth Vader. Undeterred, the threesome find their way to Tatooine in pursuit of the droids and the Death Star plans. Meanwhile, Perry sticks close to the droids to watch over them.
Back in space aboard the Death Star, the evil Darthenshmirtz (Doofenshmirtz, obviously) discusses his terrible new weapon with his droid, Norm-3PO. His invention requires a dash of Force, and his search for some Force will bring him into contact with Phineas and Ferb, who find themselves in possession of the Death Star plans after a collision with Perry and R2-D2. The droids do not realize that the data disc has been left in the seat of the boys’ land speeder, but for the rest of the show the boys try to return it to Artoo.
This leads them, of course, to Mos Eisley, but they narrowly miss catching up with the droids and have to find a ship of their own. Fortunately, they come to an agreement with Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, captain of the Centennial Chihuahua, and later end up in the Death Star’s tractor beam, just like Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. Of course, they are still being trailed by Candace and her Stormtrooper friends, who also end up at the Death Star. It’s not long before the boys meet up with Perry as well, and soon enough Perry goes up against Darthenshmirtz— only to end up frozen in carbonite, helplessly hearing of the plans Darthenshmirtz has for his new Sith-inator machine. Everyone continues racing around the Death Star, interacting with the unfolding events of Star Wars. With rebel ships attacking the space station, there is just barely enough time for family revelations, thwarting evil, and escaping. Naturally, it all ends up on the fourth moon of Yavin, where Republic heroes are getting awarded, and a groovy dance party breaks out.
This is a pretty fun special, with solid animation, Phineas And Ferb-style humor, and a story that promotes the best of both franchises. Oh, and I never mentioned the songs! Yes, there are lots of songs, too, irreverent and witty, poking fun at life and the characters more than Star Wars. The song sequences don’t dwell on plot too much, so they could largely be excised or skipped over if you prefer not to listen; but then you would be depriving yourself of the show’s most energetic and surreal moments, like Darthenshmirtz being backed up by lightsaber-wielding lady Stormtroopers.
To be sure, it will be fans of both franchises that will enjoy this the most, but it can work for fans of either. Star Wars fans always enjoy seeing more material based on the series, and this show does very little to contradict or change anything from the original film. Instead, familiar scenes are seen from new angles (literally), with the P And F characters running around in the foreground, somewhat similar to Lion King 1 ½. It’s hard to imagine too many people not being familiar enough with Star Wars to enjoy this.
For those who are new to Phineas And Ferb, for maximum enjoyment, I might suggest watching some of the included bonus episodes first, in order to familiarize yourself with the show and its charms. Those that are already fans of Phineas And Ferb will enjoy the plenty of nods to the regular series, such as Doofenshmirtz’s tendency to call Perry by his full name (here, it’s Perry The Rebelpuss), Candace wanting to “bust” the boys, the evasion of explaining how Phineas and Ferb’s parents got together, and so on. It’s like a regular episode, only more Star Wars-y.
Is This Thing Loaded?
The DVD comes with five bonus episodes from the series, including For your Ice Only/Happy New Year!, Steampunx/It’s No Picnic (the first story has steampunk versions of the characters), Terrifying Tri-State Trilogy Of Terror (a Halloween style of episode, with three spooky stories), Doof 101/Father’s Day, and Tales From The Resistance Parts 1 And 2. This latter episode is a sequel to the Phineas And Ferb TV movie, Across The Second Dimension. It’s a nice selection of episodes, and neat that some of them are “special” episodes, but it’s too bad that there is no bonus material concerning the main feature.
Sneak Peeks here are for Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Clone Wars: The Lost Missions, 101 Dalmatians, Big Hero 6, and (when clicking from the main menu) the Frozen Sing Along Edition.
There is a standard DVD keepcase, with inserts inside for Disney Movie Rewards and the Disney Movie Club. The cover slip is embossed, with a sticker advertising a neat additional extra: the Perry The Rebelpuss Frozen In Carbonite key chain, which is actually a fairly high quality collectible, which my son immediately swiped from me. (He hastens to remark that he did ask for it before taking it.)
Ink And Paint:
This is the best that DVD has to offer, which is to say that we get a very good image, but with a little bit of aliasing, mostly with the highly detailed CGI models of ships. Drawn outlines are also jittery and not always well defined. The anamorphic 16:9 picture is almost certainly digital-to-digital, and hence has no physical artifacts or signs of wear.
Language options are minimal, with a 2.0 Dolby Digital English track, and English subtitles for the hearing deficient. A full-blown 5.1 track could have been great fun, but 2.0 is fine for a TV cartoon, I guess. No real issues here.
A casual viewer might not “get it,” but these days it is hard to imagine too many kids who don’t already know Phineas And Ferb, or anyone not being at least a little familiar with Star Wars. This is the type of crossover that stays true to its roots (in this case, a hit kids’ TV show) while remaining loving and relatively faithful to the subject that it is spoofing. The animation is surprisingly good, the songs are a joy, and you even get a few bonus episodes and a keychain. That’s a win for everyone. Plus, this DVD finally got me to sit down and watch one of today’s most popular shows, and now I can see why that is. Phineas And Ferb has the makings of a timeless classic (well, in terms of kids’ cartoons), with a style all its own, good humor, appealing characters, and positive and imaginative stories.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?