My wife and I rarely head out to the movies, although we are both big fans of the movie industry and some TV shows. We satisfy our entertainment needs mostly with what's available on our cable TV (with some tv shows and movies "on demand"), although we are continuing with Netflix (at a much reduced frequency lately) to catch specific shows or at least keep tabs on things we want to see eventually. Thanks to a free offer from one of my credit cards a while back, we were introduced to redbox, one of those vending machine DVD rental dealios.
For just a buck per rental (if you don't keep it more than one night), it has actually been more economical than our current Netflix usage. The downsides, of course, are being somewhat at the mercy of what is in-stock in the machine, and having to get the disc back by a certain time. But it is also good for instant gratification (instead of having to wait for a disc by mail), and for forcing you to peruse a list of titles to choose from that might expand your horizons a bit. Plus, thanks to subscribing to their email list (along with various offers in conjunction with their host stores like Jewel & Walgreens), most of our rentals have actually been free.
Our most recent free rental was Up, the latest Disney-Pixar film. Pixar has a strong history of decent movies, so we figured we'd see if this one lived up to the hype. It was definitely a heart-warming story with some laugh-out-loud moments, but over all it was fairly predictable and a touch sappy. It was a bit slow too - so I dunno if it is a great choice for kids. The animation is great, and the details were a nice touch (note the tennis balls) - but at this point they have already proven themselves, and we should expect good animation... that in and of itself isn't a draw anymore.
The inciting factor for this post, however, was the functionality of the disc itself. Sometimes rental discs are manufactured with different options/settings than the versions you can purchase. Whether that is the case for Up I don't know, but regardless the production company is no doubt directing the standards for either / both versions. When this disc was placed in the DVD player, it autostarted into some previews. That's pretty standard nowadays. What is NOT standard, however, is being unable to skip the previews, and being unable to get to some form of a menu screen. NEITHER were options. Thankfully we could fast-forward manually until the movie started. But our default is to watch with captions on (I think we are both going prematurely deaf), which couldn't be turned on during movie play, and couldn't be accessed otherwise because we couldn't get to any form of a menu screen!! And to top it all off, when the movie ended it was followed by some further previews, then cycled back to the beginning to show earlier previews and then restart the movie. Without missing a beat. Without access to any potential special features, without the choice to play again if desired. For parents that sit their kids in front of a movie and half-listen for the silence when it is over to move the kids to their next activity, that cue is lost. It is especially sneaky to sandwich the movie between previews, as this disguises the fact that the disc has restarted.
Just another Disney fail. Is it obvious that I was a Warner Brothers (Bugs Bunny) fan growing up?
Bonzo's bitsLike most of us, my inbox periodically gets floods of "warnings" about the newest computer virus, or uses for coca-cola, or other unsolicited tidbits. Many come handed-down as-is, with all the headers and comments from the various people it has passed through. Very few are fact-checked, although the worst offenders are occasionally remembering to check things out on "snopes.com" beforehand.
That site is the only one I've personally used for urban legend fact-checking. Apparently they get a lot of verification requests, but I never would have suspected people would send in jokes to see if there was any rumor of truth in them. Either that or people really are dumber than I suspected. Check out their humor section if you want a good forehead-smack.