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Princess Protection Program (Royal B.F.F. Extended Edition) (2009) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
ImageDisney has been hyping "Princess Protection Program" for quite some time.  If you ever tune into the Disney channel every other promotion is for this film.  I even caught promotions for the made-for-TV on the A&E and HGTV channels.  The promotions actually worked as I became at least semi-interested in seeing the film.  I have been a fan of Disney Channel Original movies for quite some time.  The Halloweentown series, "Cadet Kelly" and "Right On Track" are just a few of my favorites.  Unfortunately, "Princess Protection Program" doesn't quite live up to the Disney Channel Original standard.

The film is entirely predictable.  This is usually to be expected of a Disney film as to keep it in the reach of children.  However, normally there is something in the Disney films that can keep adults interested.  This film however is purely for the tweenies.  Pre-teen girls will adore the film.  So, for the audience it was designed for it pretty much succeeds, but nothing beyond that.

Disney has a propensity for propelling young girls into stardom.  When the Mickey Mouse Club existed, it resulted in Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera rising to giant stars.  In the past years, Disney has started Hilary Duff's career with "Lizzie McGuire," Vanessa Hudgens' career with "High School Musical" and now, Selena Gomez with "Wizards of Waverly Place."

Selena Gomez is the representative of the perfect role model for young girls.  She is smart, cute and talented.  While her performances in "Wizards of Waverley Place" and "Another Cinderella Story" are adorable, her performance in this film is a bit deterring.  Her character doesn't really develop without the writers forcing her character to make a change.

Selena Gomez plays Carter Mason, a young girl that works on her single father's bait farm.  She and her father have a terrific relationship.  Her father, Major Mason (Tom Verica) leaves periodically on secret missions.  He is part of the Princess Protection Program.  He swoops in and rescues princesses that are in trouble.  The program then relocates the princesses to somewhere where no one will look for them.

On his latest assignment, Mason is to rescue Princess Rosalind (Demi Lavato), a 16 year-old princess that is to be crowned queen in one month.  General Kane (Johnny Ray) seeks to imprison Princess Rosalind and her mother and proclaim himself president of Costa Luna.  Mason is able to extract the princess to the program's headquarters.  Her mother remains behind, captured by Kane.

The protection program first changes Rosalind's look.  Somehow they think that slightly trimming her hair and putting her in normal teenager clothes is going to keep anyone looking for her from recognizing her.  They don't even dye her hair.  Only trusting Major Mason, the program places her in his custody.  Mason takes her back home to Louisiana.  A serious protection program would never allow this, but for the sake of a Disney film I will let it slide. In real life Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato are best of friends.  However, in the film, the two don't get along whatsoever.  Carter is biased against princesses.  Everything is handed to a princess.  Everything is done for them.  Carter is the outcast in her school and has to work her butt off as a normal teenager.  Carter's father makes her promise that she will help Rosalind, now Rosie, fit in as a normal teenager.  This proves to be difficult, as Rosie can't grasp the concept and Carter is too frustrated to try and help her.  Of course though, eventually the pair put their pasts behind them and become friends.

When Rosalind is blackmailed by the too vapid and vacuous popular girls at school, Rosalind breaks down.  An article states that Rosalind's mom is to be married to General Kane.  Obviously this is just a ploy to get Rosalind to come back to Costa Luna to be arrested.  Carter isn't about to let this happen.  She gets Rosalind to stay until the homecoming dance.  As a side note, there is a whole princess voting scheme as to who becomes homecoming queen thing going on).  Carter sets up an elaborate plan to keep Rosalind safe and put herself in danger.  For some reason or another, Carter didn't go to her father about the whole situation.  I guess that would have just been too easy.

This DVD is being released just a couple days after the film's broadcast premiere.  That makes a first for network television.  The video quality of this standard DVD is about as good as standard definition content is going to look.  My viewing experience is a little biased as I was running the film through an upscaling player and video processor.  Nevertheless, the black levels are fairly deep and details remain prominent in the shadows.  The colors are lush and vibrant and pop from the screen.  There is of course some artifacting from the standard DVD compression ratio.  There is some crackling around the edges of the text.  There isn't much pixel breakup and the source print is virtually spotless.  I did catch a couple anomalies, but other than that, the picture is impressive.  For some reason the film is not being released on Blu-ray.

The audio presented in standard Dolby Digital 5.1.  This is a typical audio track for a Disney Channel Original Movie.  That means that there isn’t much going on.  The surrounds are virtually empty.  Ambience can only be heard if you stand up right next to the speaker.  The dialogue is located in the center channel.  It is not as strong as I would have liked, but it is always easily understandable.  The LFE channel is weak.  There isn't much of a dynamic range.  The listening experience is not enveloping.  Like I said, it is standard compressed Dolby track.

This DVD edition of the film comes with a few bonus materials that will be liked by the young viewers.  "Royal & Loyal BFFs" is a look at the real-life friendship of Selena and Demi.  It is mainly the same material that was available during the promotions on the Disney Channel.  "A Royal Reality" takes a look at the life of a real princess.  Lastly, the disc contains a music video for Selena and Demi's "One and the Same."

"Princess Protection Program" will be entertaining to the youngsters but doesn't hold water for the elder crowd.  The video quality is quite impressive while the audio quality falls into the realm of average.  If you have kids, especially pre-teen or young teenage girls, then you probably should pick up this film for them.

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