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Holiday Gift Guide: Disney edition

Uh oh! Christmas is rapidly approaching and you’re running out of time to try to figure out what to buy your family for the holidays. We completely understand that you have zero time to read and research every last detail about Blu-rays (the perfect gift for everyone on your list, trust us!) so we’ve done all the research for you! Here are the hottest Disney discs currently available on home entertainment and the top reason why each of them are worth your hard earned bucks.

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Finding Dory

The long awaited follow-up to Disney.Pixar’s Finding Nemo revolves around Dory’s (voiced again by Ellen DeGeneres) adventurous search for her parents. Meet new lovable characters Hank, the disgruntled septopus (voiced by Modern Family‘s Ed O’Neill), the sonar-challenged whale Bailey (another Modern Family cast member, Ty Burrell), the near-sighted whale shark Destiny (voiced by Kaitlin Olson), and The Wire alums Dominic West and Idris Elba as a pair of selfish seals. The heartwarming tale (available on Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD) comes with over two hours of bonus material (almost an hour of which are deleted/extended scenes!), including the adorable short film Piper and an almost four minute featurette that has co-writer/co-director Andrew Stanton driving around Hollywood with featured voice actors Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill and Eugene Levy. Adults will be grinning while you can keep kids occupied for a long while with the incredibly in-depth and fascinating feature commentary track by Stanton, producer Lindsey Collins and co-director Angus MacLane.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D-Collector’s Edition 

Just in time for the holidays (and right before the much hyped theatrical release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Disney has released a Collector’s Edition of the blockbuster on Blu-ray 3D that includes the Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD. The four disc set is filled to the brim with special features so be prepared to set aside at least one day of your holiday break to watch them in awe. We had a difficult time deciding which feature to highlight (seriously, they’re all worth your time) but the audio commentary track with J.J. Abrams, the almost 12 minute conversation with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, and the quick but delightful table read (why was this cut down to 4 minutes? We could have easily watched the entire thing!) were our favorites.

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The Jungle Book 3D-Collector’s Edition 

Want to show off your brand new 4k 3D TV but need something that’s a little less loud for Grandma? The brand new Collector’s Edition of The Jungle Book (which, like the aforementioned Star Wars release, comes with the 2D Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD as well) will have the entire family humming the film’s classic tunes The Bare Necessities and I Wan’na Be Like You for days afterwards. Mowgli’s swinging from trees and the meticulously crafted jungle landscape really pop in 3D, and you’re bound to notice something new in the detailing each time you watch it. We’re huge fans of the songs in the film so the three special features promoting the music (The Bare Necessities: From the Jungle to the Bayou, The Jungle Book Around the World, and The Return of a Legend) had us smiling from ear to ear (while loudly singing along, of course).

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Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition 

We’re positive that you’ll be on a musical high after watching The Jungle Book 3D, and what better way to continue that high than watch Beauty and the Beast?! While the 25th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD was released earlier this year, we know that many people will want to revisit the classic as they eagerly anticipate the theatrical release of the live-action remake, coming from Disney in March of 2017. Have we mentioned that the home entertainment release comes with three versions of the film, including the sing-along version?! The piece de resistance, however, is the featurette Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration which has songwriter Menken joined by the top Disney (not to mention Broadway) composers/lyricists working today – Stephen Schwartz (Pocahontas, Enchanted), Kristen Anderson-Lopez and husband/creative partner Robert Lopez (Frozen), and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana). The group chat animatedly about each song in Beauty and the Beast and how their lives were forever altered by the film. A must-see!

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The BFG

The playful Roald Dahl adaptation by Steven Spielberg was unfairly overlooked at the box office when it was released this summer, so we urge you to give it a chance on Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD. The magical tale of young orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who befriends a Big Friendly Giant (played by Oscar winner and recent Spielberg muse Mark Rylance) is truly a magical family film in the same vein as E.T. The special feature titled Bringing The BFG To Life is a 27 minute delight that captures Barnhill’s journey making the film, even including her adorable on-set diary.

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Pete’s Dragon 

Another film that was upsettingly dismissed upon its theatrical release, Pete’s Dragon is a remarkable live-action reimagining of the 1977 partially animated children’s musical. When we interviewed its lead actress, Bryce Dallas Howard, and told her that grown men in our audience openly cried while watching the movie, we weren’t joking. We don’t want to give away any spoilers, but if this film doesn’t make your eyes water, then you may want to dress up as the Grinch this holiday. The Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD comes with a number of special features (including, our personal favorite, bloopers!) but the self-explanatory Notes to Self: A Director’s Diary is the disc’s highlight.

 

No matter which home entertainment release you pick up (and we highly recommend them all!), you’re bound to put a (big friendly) giant smile on someone’s face when they unwrap these gems in their stockings.

Leora Heilbronn

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto based film aficionado who has a weakness for musicals and violent action flicks. She can often be spotted reading a wide range of literature or listening to show tunes.