The Disney Channel has created so many “made-for-television” movies and TV shows over the years. Every decade it seems that The Disney Channel has locked certain actors under contract and uses those actors time after time until their “stardom” is not as bright anymore. Then, they simply move on to the next person. For the last ten to twenty years, Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs) have become increasingly popular. It’s not uncommon to see familiar faces in multiple DCOMs a year. In addition, half of them got their start in hit Disney Channel series. Today, the Disney Channel’s biggest cash cow is their hit television series, Hannah Montana. So it should be no surprise that the stars of the first two Disney Channel Original Movies released in 2009, Hatching Pete and Dadnapped, are regular cast members of Hannah Montana. Now for the first time ever for Disney, these two DCOMs have been bundled together in one “Double Feature” DVD available now.
Hatching Pete centers on Pete Ivey (Jason Dolley), a student who’s practically invisible to most of the Brewster High School student body. One night just before a school basketball game, Pete’s best friend Cleatus (Mitchel Musso) comes to him in desperation and asks Pete to fill in as team mascot so that Cleatus can be spared hours of allergic sneezing. Reluctantly and with the promise of a substantial return favor, Pete dons the bright yellow chicken suit in secret. After a rough start, he gets into his duties and revels in keeping the crowd entertained even as the Roosters suffer yet another embarrassing rout. At school the next day, Cleatus earns recognition from his classmates but objections from the basketball team, all of whom believe he was the one in the feathered costume. The good far outweighs the bad, though, and Cleatus is suddenly popular. He soaks up the attention and uses his smooth-talking skills to persuade Pete to continue serving as mascot while Cleatus gets the credit. Naturally, things begin to turn around for the team, Pete develops a love interest (Josie Loren) who only has eyes for the chicken, and the mascot’s identity becomes threatened.
The main character of this movie is really the school mascot. That means this movie can’t help but be silly. Fortunately, the wackiness is tame when compared to other similar Disney Channel movies. At the same time, the film is really not as funny as you would like. That is mainly due to an average script that adds in a predictable would-be romance for good measure.
What does work for this film are the performances. The entire cast seems to have great chemistry and timing with each other. They are able to take a weak script and make it at least entertaining. They could have easily gone over-the-top with everything, but for the most part they didn’t. The main romantic relationship is really nothing to speak of, because Hatching Pete is really all about the chicken mascot. Although, the film does have some meaningful insight into long-distance relationships, breaking up via text message, and the allure of mystery.
Dadnapped stars Emily Osment as Melissa Morris, who might be a normal teenaged girl, if only her father wasn’t Neal Morris, best-selling author of the fanatical read Tripp Zoome adventure books. Further distinguishing Melissa is the fact that she regularly sees and interacts with the fictional protagonist. Melissa has had to compete with her divorced father’s successful literary career for his attention. That helps to explain why she’s so looking forward to a camping trip with Dad (George Newbern). Before they can reach their woodsy destination, Neal surprises his daughter with a stop at the Merc Hotel, site of a Zoome convention that brings out his most faithful and fanatical readers. Promising they’ll stay at the tacky dive just one night, Neal has his plans altered by a trio of young fans determined to win the “Are You Zoome Enough?” contest whose prize is a role in the next Tripp novel. Soon Neil is abducted by the overzealous fans, but ends up in the hands of a pair of sinister brothers, Maurice (Phill Lewis) and Skunk (Charles Halford). Now the fictional Tripp can’t save him and it’s up to Melissa to try to rescue her dad.
At first the story behind this film seems strong and unique for a Disney Channel Original Movie. Dadnapped appears to be about more than just teen characters and their school/work/love/sports
issues. Unfortunately, that only lasts for the first half of the film. By the mid-way point, you start to see how predictable and silly this film really is. There is no real suspense or drama in this film. At the same time, it’s not really funny either. To make matters worse, there are tons of continuity problems in the script. It’s almost like the whole thing was thrown together at the last minute.
Now sometimes a weak script can be saved by good actors. They definitely loaded Dadnapped with tons of familiar faces, Emily Osment, Jason Earles and Moises Arias (all from Hannah Montana), Phill Lewis (The Suite Life on Deck), and David Henrie (Wizards of Waverly Place), that Disney Channel fans will recognize. On that same note, most everyone over the age of 25 will recognize the “Dad” in this film, George Newbern, as the “groom” from Father of the Bride. However, none of them can save this film to anything that watchable. Emily Osment is a great leading star, which might surprise some who only see her as “Hannah’s sidekick”. But she is not given much to work with. Her character is more of the straight man: a sane person surrounded by a bunch of crazy people. She is much better when she is given the chance to go crazy herself as far as comedy goes. Everyone else play characters that you would expect, which means if you like their usual craziness you will probably enjoy this film.
With the exception of Hannah Montana cast members starring in both films, Hatching Pete and Dadnapped really have nothing in common. Out of the two, Hatching Pete is better on almost every level. Both films are wacky, but Dadnapped is often times too over-the-top. Both scripts are average to below average, but only the stars of Hatching Pete are able to rise above their script to succeed somewhat. Emily Osment’s bantering and comeback skills are completely wasted in Dadnapped. If they would have given Osment a chance to really shine, it would have made Dadnapped significantly better. All of that being said, though, these two films are targeted towards the same tweener crowd that watches every Disney Channel Original Movie, and they will probably be entertained by both.
Both Hatching Pete and Dadnapped are available in anamorphic widescreen color, presented at the 1:78 aspect ratio, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The quality is great for made-for-TV films. Everything is vibrant and mostly clear. Only a little grain is noticeable. No major problems here with either.
The audio included for both Hatching Pete and Dadnapped are available in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. There are subtitles available in English and Spanish as well for both films. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear, so no major problems here either.
“Unmasking the Mascot” Featurette –
This runs 11 1/2 minutes is a little more substantive than what most DCOMs get. It covers the mascot shop used, the chicken’s design, and auditioning/acting in animal costume with comments from cast, crew, and the Utah Jazz Bear portrayer (who opts to remain anonymous).
“Tripp Zoome: Off the Rails” Animated Graphic Novel –
This runs 8 1/2 minutes and it gives viewers a look at Tripp Zoome as he exists in the novels, as written by Neal Morris. This animated short features his daughter and other characters from the movie in supporting roles.The story involves the threat of supervillain Cutter Carter and his henchmen at the grand opening of new amusement park Tripp Towne USA. There is little animation, though, and none of the actors give their voices to this short. So again, this looks like it was thrown together at the last second as well. But a different perspective of film’s characters.
Extended Ending –
This runs 2 minutes. This “extended ending” doesn’t really follow a specific part in the movie. Instead, it’s more of an epilogue for the film. But you really have to care a lot about this film to care about watching this ending.
Hatching Pete and Dadnapped
Music Videos –
If you slide off the and open keepcase and find the booklet promoting Disney’s Blu-ray revolution and a sheet holding your Disney Movie Rewards code. That code will not only give you Disney Movie Rewards point, but will also unlock two music videos. One called “Hero in Me” by Emily Osment and the other “Let It Go” by Mitchel Musso & Tiffany Thornton from their respective movies. They could have included these on the DVD in the first place.
The films on this DVD set are targeted for “DCOM” fans. WStill nowhere near the best, but at least Disney has made the smart choice of combining two average DCOMs into one DVD set. That should continue in the future. A rental at best if you are a fan of these types of films.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment presents Hatching Pete/Dadnapped. Directed by Stuart Gillard (Hatching Pete); Paul Hoen (Dadnapped). Starring Jason Dolley, Mitchel Musso, Tiffany Thornton, Josie Loren, Sean O’Bryan, Amy Farrington, Crawford Wilson, Aramis Knight, and Edward Herrmann (Hatching Pete); Emily Osment, David Henrie, Jason Earles, Jonathan Keltz, Moises Arias, Denzel Whitaker, Charles Halford, Phill Lewis, and George Newbern (Dadnapped). Written by Paul W. Cooper(Hatching Pete); Alan Silberberg (Dadnapped). Running time: 89 minutes (Hatching Pete); 84 minutes (Dadnapped). Both Hatching Pete and Dadnapped Rated TV-G. Released on DVD: May 12, 2009.
Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place