Release Date: November 22, 2011
Running Time: 22 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 (anamorphic)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
Special Features: Bonus Shorts: “Operation Secret Santa” and “Tiny’s Big Adventure;” Kringle Academy Elf Training Videos: “Welcome to Kringle Academy,” “Equipment Training,” “Do’s and Dont’s;” “North Pole News” Newsreel spoof; “North Pole Commercials” spoof ads.
An ambitious elf named Wayne, upset over not getting a job promotion from Santa, breaks a cardinal rule while on a Christmas mission, and must work with a rookie elf to set things right. Originally broadcast on ABC and winner of the 2010 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.
There are a number of Christmas TV classics, from Charlie Brown to Rudolph to Frosty. Prep and Landing is Disney’s attempt to put an entry into the yearly tradition of animated TV classics. With this amusing take on Santa’s elves, the House of Mouse has created a TV special worth watching over and over.
The show only lasts 22 minutes, but it is packed with sight gags, pop culture references, and manic fun. It does not have the timeless quality of other classic Christmas specials, but it has a lot of heart and it teaches a nice lesson. Dave Foley, who has already gained Disney immortality by voicing Flik in A Bug’s Life, gives Wayne the Elf just the right tone, and he is supported by a nice supporting cast, including Sarah Chalke (Scrubs).
If there is one drawback to the show, it is the length. It tries hard to fit a lot of material into a show for a 30 minute time slot. That does not leave a lot of time to develop these characters or inject much sentimentality. That may keep it from becoming a true Christmas classic, but it is still a fun little show to enjoy by a roaring fire and a cup of cocoa.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The standard DVD features a solid video transfer. The image is fairly sharp and colors look fantastic. This is an excellent looking cartoon. Even in the toon’s darker scenes, the image holds up well. The CGI comes across very well. The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix is excellent, featuring some nice surround effects.
Since the feature is so short, Disney packed in a bunch of extras. Most of these are animated shorts that build nicely on the feature, including two shorts featuring the same characters. A handful of “Kringle Academy” shorts take a humorous spin on training videos, and are complimented with some takeoffs of newsreels and commercials catering to elves. All together, the extras make the total running time to just over an hour. Thankfully, playing the DVD will play the feature and all of the extras one after another, so you will not have to click on each individually. You also get a short commercial with Timon and Pumba from The Lion King explaining 3D Blu-ray. It doesn’t make much sense on a standard DVD, especially when you can’t see the 3D effects.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR REDBOX IT?
Overall Grade: A-
Time will tell if Prep and Landing wins its way into the hearts of children, but for now, it is an entertaining little show that will put you in the holiday spirit. The performances and CGI animation are outstanding. While it could have used more content, this is a perfect Christmas buy, especially if you find it for the right price. Most stores sell it for under $15, making it a pretty good buy.
Prep and Landing is now available on DVD from Walt Disney Home Entertainment.