ThinkFun has perfect name: They are the world’s leader in brain and logic games, wonders that make you think and have fun. Their gems develop critical skills and builds visual perception and reasoning skills through fun game play. This year we relish Heads Talk Tails Walk, a matching game that’s just as fun for parents as it is for kids. Can you hop like a frog while clucking like a chicken? The hilarious sounds and movements you have to make to pay make this a great game to play together with your toddler, and a great gift for both parents and children.
We heard that Santa, his missus and 99.7 % of his gnomes howled over Invasion of the Cow Snatchers, whose nifty sci-fi cover promises a game in which players “mooove the magnets”.
The game comes with a game grid, 60 challenge cards with solutions (that become increasingly difficult as you play through them), 6 magnetic tokens including a UFO, 4 cows, a bull, 9 walls, 1 silo, 5 crop circles and instructions. Got milk?
Players really think when playing Thinking Putty Puzzle in which you connect the same-colored dots by creating same-colored paths of Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty without crossing different colored Thinking Putty paths. It’s unique play experience makes it one of the best gifts for boys and girls ages 8 and older. We promise!
And the Password is . . . “great”. Based on the famous ’60s TV game show, Endless Games has resurrected and revived the classic TV game show. Teams of two square off to see who can guess the secret password first.
Communicate wisely because players can give only one-word clues . . . the fewer the clues the higher the score.
The game includes 50 Password cards, scoring indicator dial, score pad, 2 “Magic Window” Revealers and Instructions. For game nights, this family friendly game is perfect for kids, teens, and adults.
Get ready to play Endless Games’ AKA, the game that says the things you know but in other words . . . you know, also known as. You’ll guess people, place, and things from words that mean the same thing. Let us tease you: Do you know the Disney movie Also Known As The Tiny Fish Woman or the superhero Also Known As Arachnid Guy? Of course you do: The Little Mermaid and Spider-Man!
The rules are easy to learn and the game is difficult to stop playing. The game is AKA great family fun!
Everyone wishes for the chance to win a bundle on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. But face it: The odds of being chosen for the Big Time is, well, small. So we’re turning over the cards to show you a different way to enjoy the fun. Endless Games has had the brilliance to turn the game shows into card games.
With the Jeopardy! Card Game, each deck plays out like a full episode, complete with Jeopardy!, Double Jeopardy! and Final Jeopardy! rounds. How much will you bet?
Think of this one as a vowel movement. Shuffle the deck and flip your way through the Wheel of Fortune Card Game; then call out a letter and try to solve the puzzle in the puzzle deck. Just look out for that Bankrupt card.
Both make great party favors, stocking stuffers and travel buddies.
There are also Junior Editions of each card game, ideal for those ages 8-12.
Forget Barbie. Meet Blaire, the 2019 American Girl of the Year. She’s a chef-in-training, party planner and chicken wrangler at her family’s farm and restaurant. The 18-inch doll has bright green eyes that open and close, curly red hair and movable head and limbs. She’s also a fashion doll: Blaire’s favorite dress features a bumblebee print and gathered tie; she has a sunny yellow bandanna bracelet she wears while gardening and there’s a nifty pair of purple platform sandals.
Want more exciting American Girl news? There are now Smart Girl’s Guide Kits made by American Girl. Each includes an advice book, whimsical extras and a mini American Girl Doll.
Our fave (so far) is Sports & Fitness; this kit features: Smart Girl’s Guide: Sports & Fitness book; American Girl water bottle; purple cinch bag; inspirational bracelets and a mini American Girl doll
Insight Editions promises that if you rub a genie’s bottle . . .
And the wishes have come true.
The Art and Making of Aladdin (Insight Editions, $45) treats Aladdin fans to images that capture the visual majesty and behind-the-scenes accounts of the Disney film’s fascinating development and production.
In the book, fans will discover how the streets of Agrabah come to vibrant life in the thrilling live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1992 classic, Aladdin. Yep, this is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future.
The Art and Making of Aladdin takes an in-depth look at gorgeous concept art and unit photography and delves into characters old and new, including Will Smith’s Genie and Nasim Pedrad’s new character, Dalia. Revealing interviews with filmmakers, cast, and crewmembers provide unique insight into the Aladdin filmmaking experience through a beautifully designed exploration of the film’s
The beautifully packaged book also features exclusive interviews with director Guy Ritchie, Disney composer Alan Menken, lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and key cast and crew.
The Art and Making of Aladdin moves beyond a simple commemoration. It is the definitive chronicle of hundreds of people’s shared mission to reimagine a beloved film in a completely new format.
People worldwide have seen the Disney animated classic Bambi and have been deeply moved by it, but few can tell you the name of the artist behind the film. Even fewer are aware of this pioneering artist’s impact on American art and popular culture. Until his death at the age of 106, Tyrus Wong was America’s oldest living Chinese American artist and one of the last remaining artists from the golden age of Disney animation. The quiet beauty of his Eastern-influenced paintings caught the eye of Walt Disney, who made Wong the inspirational sketch artist for Bambi. Filmmaker Pamela Tom corrects a historical wrong by spotlighting this seminal, but heretofore under-credited, figure.
Learn the truth, witness his genius, in American Masters: Tyrus (PBS Distribution).
Born in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, right before the fall of the Chinese Empire, Wong and his father immigrated to America in 1919, never to see their family again. The film shows how he overcame a life of poverty and racism to become a celebrated painter who once exhibited with Picasso and Matisse, a Hollywood sketch artist and Disney Legend.
Previously unseen art and interviews with Wong, movie clips and archival footage illustrate how his unique style–melding Chinese calligraphic and landscape influences with contemporary Western art–is found in everything from Disney animation (Bambi) and live-action Hollywood studio films (Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild Bunch, Sands of Iwo Jima, April in Paris) to Hallmark Christmas cards, kites and hand-painted California dinnerware to fine art and Depression-era WPA paintings. The film also features new interviews with his daughters and fellow artists/designers, including his Disney co-worker and friend Milton Quon and curators and historians of Wong’s work.
Johnny Carson defined late-night television. For more than 30 years, America watched together, laughed together, and sang together on the couch with the Original King of Late Night. Now, audiences will be able to enjoy the very best of late night, any night, with The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series (Time Life). The singular collections, new to retail and available in multiple configurations, feature Johnny and the inimitable Tonight Show crew in full episodes fresh from Carson’s vaults, including commercials. The Vault Series gives viewers the opportunity to relive the incomparable magic of a night with Johnny, Ed and Doc. These collections feature some of the best and most requested episodes from more than 30 years and 4,000 shows, including material not seen by the public since the original broadcasts.
Rex is a cab driver who has never left the mining town of Broken Hill in his life. When he discovers he doesn’t have long to live, he decides to drive through the heart of the country to Darwin, where he’s heard he will be able to die on his own terms; but along the way he discovers that before you can end your life you’ve got to live it, and to live it you’ve got to learn to share it. Share the ride with Last Cab to Darwin (First Run Features).
Think you’ve seen the antics of Groucho, Harpo, Chico and (sometimes) Zeppo? Wait until you see them in Blu-ray. The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) boasts five restored Marx Brothers’ films–The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers and Duck Soup, the only five movies to feature all four brothers. The collectible set, filled with unforgettable comedy sketches, musical numbers, witty dialogue and plenty of gags, also includes all-new bonus features (such a feature-length documentary on the rise of the Marx Brothers) and audio commentaries for all the films.
To commemorate the 100thanniversary of Gregory Peck’s birth, Gregory Peck Centennial Collection(Universal Studios Home Entertainment) features two of the actor’s most iconic roles in To Kill a Mockingbird and Cape Fear.
Sure to lift any “Fanshee” out of the doldrums, the 3-disc Banshee: The Complete Fourth Season (HBO) is this action drama charts the final twists and turns that follow Lucas Hood, an ex-convict who assumed the identity of sheriff in the Amish-area town Banshee, where his former lover and partner-in-crime was living under her own alias, Carrie Hopewell. The final season set is packed with behind-the-scenes extras including audio commentaries, exclusive deleted scenes, episode recaps, “Banshee Origins” (which tells the story behind the story with eight prequel videos featuring the cast of Banshee), “Zoomed In Episodes 1- 8” (an on-the-set feature highlighting how key, adrenaline-filled scenes were created), and specially-created cast retrospectives on “Best Fight Scenes” and “Job’s Best Outfits.”
Cohen Media Group continues to amaze cinephiles with their restored, spectacular releases. This year’s tops: Two Films By Douglas Sirk. The set features A Scandal In Paris, starring George Sanders is at his debonair best as we see him climb from clever criminal through the ranks of French society in the early 1800’s, with seemingly nothing to stop him from the biggest heist of his career . . . except, perhaps, the charms of a young lady. The other feature is Lured.
A serial killer is on the loose in London, luring young women into his web through ads placed in the personal column. Scotland Yard’s bait to ensnare the villain is a young American dance hall girl (played by a stunning Lucille Ball), who encounters a series of likely suspects, including the always dashing George Sanders as a sophisticated playboy and an unforgettable Boris Karloff as a mad fashion designer.
Then there’s Sudden Fear. In this rediscovered masterpiece of film noir, Joan Crawford plays a successful playwright who marries a mediocre actor (Jack Palance) with a troubling secret. She soon discovers that he not only married her for money but that he plans to murder her with the help of his lover (Gloria Grahame). This taut thriller also features a score by Elmer Bernstein that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Directed by two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple, Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation (First Run Features) is a vivid look at America’s oldest continuously published weekly magazine. Centered through editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, as well as an impressive array of passionate writers, the film is a journey into the soul of American Journalism.
With unfettered access and unfiltered honesty, Hot Type captures the day-to-day pressures and challenges of publishing a weekly magazine and illuminates how the past continuously ripples through and shapes current events. It is the story of The Nation-and the nation-evolving into the future as it is guided by its remarkable past.
It’s easy to name the HBO drama that has consistently been the top selling TV on DVD/BD for the past five years. Now fans can get the most recent season with Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season (HBO Home Entertainment).
The set features all 10 episodes, plus extensive bonus content. The cover is the best!
Disney’s adventure The Lion Guard(Disney) continues with Simba and Nala’s (from the classic The Lion King) second-born cub, Kion, and his Lion Guard team as they protect the Circle of Life! Follow our group of unlikely heroes: Bunga the honey badger, Fuli the cheetah, Beshte the hippo and Ono the egret. Join this heroic band as they use their unique abilities to protect the Pride Lands and maintain the Circle of Life. This series also features Simba, the spirit of Mufasa and the hilarious antics of Timon and Pumbaa. You’ll go wild for all the ferocious fun, because whether the Lion Guard team is tracking a rogue leopard, foiling tricky jackals or facing stubborn crocodiles, Life In The Pride Lands is always “hevi kabisa” totally intense! This new DVD, features five new episodes and is packed with laughs, music, beloved characters and heart, The Lion Guard: Life in the Pride Lands is a must-own. Bring home this heroic adventure on January 10. C’mon, Santa gave you $ in your stocking!
Poetic, riveting and moving, three-time Academy Award nominee Carlos Saura’s latest foray into the music of Argentina (First Run features) explores the heart of traditional Argentine folklore and its stunning musical heritage, from traditional styles to modern dance. Now 84, the legendary director states: “By beginning with the most beautiful traditional songs, I wish to explore the deep, telluric connection between song and soil, tradition and the future. I will create a film that is not only for aficionados but for all lovers of music and dance – as well as those who especially liked Carmen or Tango. My desire is to create a cinematic experience unlike any other.” Ole!
Time Stand Still (Rounder) This feature-length documentary film chronicles the final major tour for legendary rock band Rush. It is an intimate view of a historic moment from the perspective of the band, their fans, crew and management. Featuring interviews with the band throughout their sold-out 2015 40th Anniversary tour, the film also shows rarely seen backstage footage capturing the final moments of life on the road. Encore!
Rock ‘n roll! Pin-up girls! Hot rods and hotter fashion! Welcome to the documentary It’s a Rockabilly World (Virgil Films). Directed by the award winning Brent Huff, the film focuses on the vibrant scene known as “rockabilly” and the people who follow this subculture religiously. The term dates back the mid-’50s, where it was coined to describe the rock ‘n roll played by hillbillies, by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. The flick details its humble beginnings to the global sensation it is today, not only in the United States but in Europe, South Africa and Japan. The colorful cast brings you right onto the rockabilly scene-describing how and why they fall in love with this cultural phenomenon.
The action of Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures: Complete Season One (Disney) begins after the events of The Empire Strikes Back and before Return of the Jedi and follows a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from battle debris strewn throughout the galaxy. Recycling runts! When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact—the Kyber Saber—his world is turned upside down, and he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. The Freemakers explore new worlds, meet new and familiar characters and learn the meaning of family. Relive all 13 action-packed episodes in one nifty set. And no, you;re not hearing things: The voice of Lando Calrissian is that of Billy Dee Williams, reprising his role from the original film series.
RuPaul has his queens. And the Kingdom of Avalor has theirs. After saving her enchanted kingdom from an evil sorceress, Princess Elena must now reign as Crown Princess until she’s old enough to become Queen. She has help: With her sister Isabel, magical flying jaquins, and her friends Naomi, Royal Wizard Mateo and Royal Guard Gabe by her side, this empowered Princess will do her best to rule Avalor with bravery and compassion. Disney’s most inspiring new leader embarks on a heroic journey to restore her kingdom to greatness and prove she’s ready to rule. Such is the wonder of Elena of Avalor (Disney).
We know the story well: Ben-Hur is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. The story’s highlight still remains the chariot race: Both the 1925 silent film version, starring gay icon Ramon Navarro as Ben-Hur, and the 1959 blockbuster remain memorable with Biblical proportions. (Three were two other adaptations of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace: The 1907 silent film starring Herman Rottger and the 2003 animated film with Ben-Hur voiced by Heston.) A new version hit theaters earlier this year, starring Jack Huston in the title role. The breathtaking action-adventure,from Paramount Home Media Distribution, is a great adventures, especially on Blu-ray!
If you missed the critical acclaim (think applause, then more applause) director Andrew Neel’s gripping drama Goat received at its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, ask Santa for the Paramount Home Media Distribution DVD. Based on Brad Land’s memoir, the film follows a 19-year-old Brad (played by Ben Schnetzer), newly arrived to college and desperate to belong. Taking a cue from his older brother Brett (Nick Jonas), Brad decides to pledge a fraternity. At first, it’s all parties and girls, but as Brad enters into the final stretch of the pledging ritual—known as “hell week”—things take a violent, humiliating turn. What occurs in the name of ‘brotherhood’ tests both boys and their relationship in brutal ways.
True cinephiles crave everything Cohen Film Collection releases. Trust us and check out the wide array of flicks at cohenmedia.net. Santa will get a long list. One must-have: Merchant Ivory’s undisputed masterpieces Howards End, in a gorgeous new 4k restoration on Blu-ray and DVD. This adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel won multiple prizes including three Academy Awards, with Emma Thompson picking up Best Actress. A saga of class relations and changing times in an Edwardian England on the brink of modernity, the film centers on the interwoven fates and misfortunes of these three families and the diverging trajectories of the two sisters’ lives are connected to the ownership of Howards End, the beloved country home. A compelling, brilliantly acted study of one woman’s struggle to maintain her ideals and integrity in the face of Edwardian society’s moribund conformist values.
Only producer Lorne Michaels could make our Saturday nights live with laughter. Witness: Brother Nature(Paramount Home Media Distribution), the outrageous new comedy about family, friendship and fish. Roger, a straight-laced politician, has big plans to propose to his dream girl at her family’s lake house. But everything goes awry when he meets his potential brother-in-law Todd: A full-time camp counselor with a heart of gold and a wild sense of fun, pining to be Roger’s best friend, and ultimately catapulting him into a series of unfortunate events.
As Roger tries to take a stand amidst outrageous fishing excursions, propulsive water jetpacks and American history-themed musicals, he realizes that being a part of a new family may be more difficult than he’d thought.
Perhaps the most touching and important film of the year: When two pregnant cows were trapped in an over-turned rig on the 210 Freeway in March, the City of Los Angeles’ SMART, a specialized mobile animal rescue team, was called in to save them. The team, the first of its kind in the United States, is a uniquely trained unit within the Animal Services division that risks life and limb to rescue domestic and wild animals in the most precarious situations. An award-winning documentary film, SMART: Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team (Cinema Libre Studio), captures the heart and soul of this team as they battle to save LA’s animals.
Since SMART’s formation in 2009, the self-trained team has saved nearly 1,000 animals . . . domestic, wild, and abused animals of all kinds. The team of 12 Animal Control Officers, represent the cultural melting pot that is this city, and has a 100% save rate. Due to SMART’s distinctive training, it can respond to calls that other emergency responders and Animal Control Officers are not equipped to handle, as seen in the film when they are called in to help Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) after a buck gets trapped in his backyard.
In the last seven years, team members have spent almost $80,000 dollars of their own money to assist with expenses not covered by the department’s budget. Says Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, SMART’s role is “to show people that the impossible is possible.”
A truly remarkable team and their story.
Based on the phenomenal bestselling book series by acclaimed author James Patterson, Maximum Ride has landed on DVD
from Paramount Home Media Distribution. Patterson’s book series spent 144 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than 20 million books worldwide and has spawned 11 Manga comics. The film brings to life the extraordinary journey of six DNA-enhanced young orphans with the ability to fly who are on a mission to rescue the youngest of their flock while discovering the diabolical, scientific secrets of how they came to exist. Their leader is Max, wise beyond her years, who must summon all her courage and acumen to outmaneuver the brutal half-human/half-wolf creations known as “Erasers”, confront her own inner demons and ultimately face a stunning betrayal.
Time Life is releasing several new-to-retail collections of episodes from the first five years of her show with The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes–Classic Carol. This must-have series, unveiled by Time Life in 2015, features original, uncut broadcast episodes from Seasons 1-5 (1967-1972), unseen by the public in more than 40 years–no reruns, streaming video, DVDs or any other format. Until now. Fans will have the opportunity to restore their CB connections and tune in to rediscover what made the program tick and stick around as one of the best hours on TV.
The 6-disc set features 14 episodes, as they originally aired on television, and showcases some of the most acclaimed and beloved moments from “The Carol Burnett Show” including classic sketches “The Old Folks,” “Carol and Sis,” “The Ham Actors,” and “As the Stomach Turns;” TV spoofs including the ever-popular commercials; movie parody presentations from Tearjerker Theatre, Insomnia Theatre, and The Early Early Show; and guest stars including Lucille Ball, Ken Berry, George Carlin, Ray Charles, Cass Elliot, Robert Goulet, Bernadette Peters, Debbie Reynolds and Lana Turner. There’s also a 3-disc set (features seven episodes) and the single disc that includes three episodes.
Specially-created bonus features are also available on both the 6-disc and 3-disc sets and include “A Writers’ Roundtable: A Conversation with The Carol Burnett Show‘s Writers” and interviews with show dancer and choreographer Randy Doney and ballet dancer Edward Villella. The 6-disc collection also features several bonus shows, including “The Garry Moore Show” episodes featuring the original “Accidents” and “Princess of Morovia” sketches.
Your favorite pizza-loving heroes return in an epic new adventure loaded with wall-to-wall laughs. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the Heroes in a Half-Shell also will be available in a limited edition two-movie Blu-ray giftset with collectible metal lunchbox. Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are back to battle bigger, badder villains, alongside April O’Neil and a newcomer: the hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones. After supervillain Shredder escapes custody, he joins forces with two dimwitted henchmen, Bebop and Rocksteady, to unleash a diabolical plan to take over the world. As the Turtles prepare to take on Shredder and his new crew, they find themselves facing an even greater threat with similar intentions: the notorious Krang.
We cannot stand hip-hop or rap or any other such noise. But we did find the miniseries Streets of Compton(Lionsgate) fascinating as we witnessed the rise of West Coast hip-hop. Produced and narrated by rapper The Game, this miniseries brings unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to hip-hop’s origins, exploring the rise of music legends like NWA and Dr. Dre told through the eyes of its current and former residents. Compton is a place most people have never seen and the truth isn’t always pretty. Streets of Compton tells the story of how a city overrun by gangs and violence became a cultural powerhouse. Hip-hop superstar The Game takes us on a dark yet redemptive journey into the heart of his city.
We got out kicks from Kicks(Universal Studios Home Entertainment). In Justin Tipping’s feature debut, nothing is as simple as it seems. Fifteen-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy; assuming that merely having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone — even his best friends. Working hard to get them, he soon finds that the titular shoes have instead made him a target after they are promptly snatched by local hood, Flaco. Seemingly the embodiment of menace, Flaco harbors complexities of his own that will be revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow.
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some