Disney // 2005 // 66 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // August 8th, 2007
For them, it's a life of luxury, for everyone else, it's a living nightmare!
Oh, with a tag line involving the words "living nightmare," a cynical critic could have a lot of fun. Unfortunately for this reviewer, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody is the Disney Channel's most popular show for a good reason. It's pretty cute.
Zack and Cody Martin (Dylan and Cole Sprouse, Big Daddy) are the residents of the Tipton Hotel in Boston, a swanky, luxurious downtown hotel. Their mother, Carey Martin (Kim Rhodes, As The World Turns) works and lives there, so the boys basically get free run of the entire hotel, much to the dismay of the dour Mr. Moseby (Phil Lewis, Scrubs), the concierge who constantly chases after the Martin boys -- as if he didn't have enough troubles watching over teenage heiress London Tipton (Brenda Song, Phil of the Future), who lives at the hotel without her parents. Moseby has been charged to keep a watchful eye on the young heiress, which can be challenging. Luckily, her best friend, snack shop employee Maddie Fitzpatrick (Ashley Tisdale, High School Musical), is there to keep her rich friend under control. That is, if she isn't hanging out with the Martin twins causing trouble!
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Sweet Suite Victory contains a measly three episodes from the hit Disney Channel show:
"Band in Boston"
Zack and Cody plan on entering the local Battle of the Band contest held at the Tipton. However, the twins soon disagree on priorities: Cody wants to concentrate on writing profound and meaningful lyrics, while Zack lets being a rock star quickly go to his head. Of course, Maggie feels neither has a chance against her band...until a poolside accident destroys all their equipment. The only way to get back in the contest is to let London join as a singer...
Cody decides to run for class president, feeling he can make an important difference in the school on a number of boring administrative issues. Zack is uninterested, until he learns the president gets a free trip to Hawaii. Suddenly, politics is Zack's middle name! He runs a smear campaign against his brother, funded by London, while Maggie helps Cody run a clean campaign.
"Not So Sweet 16"
Maddie is having her Sweet 16 party at the Tipton the same day London decides to throw hers. The two friends come to near-blows arguing over whose party will be the best, while Zack struggles to find the perfect gift for Maddie.
The Suite Life works as charming children's programming because it sticks with well-established formulas. Two blond twin boys let loose in a hotel to cause trouble, basically unsupervised? It's Home Alone 2 doubled. One twin is neat, organized, and responsible; the other is wild, impulsive, and a troublemaker -- a pre-teen The Odd Couple. Of course, don't forget about the tried-and-true formula, "European city name" + "hotel name" = crazy teenage hotel heiress. It is fairly obvious who London's character is meant to emulate, but thankfully only the cute, Disney-ish aspects of her personality. It's a good thing, too, because we don't review pornography on this site.
So, yeah, The Suite Life is cute as buttons. The twin boys are young and inexperienced actors, but have a firm grasp of comedic timing and the overemphasizing of punchlines that Disney children master at an early age. Ashley Tisdale, a young rising star in her own right, is a born star -- cute and funny, with hilarious facial expressions. She'll no doubt go far. The humor is perfectly balanced towards pre-teens, but clever enough to amuse parents and not cause them to gouge at their eyes and ears with a broken bottle.
The three episodes seem to be solid picks; admittedly, I'm not intimately familiar with episodes of The Suite Life as I probably should be, but they're cute enough. The show has a clever premise that gives the creators the ability to come up with ridiculous scenario after scenario, while still keeping firmly rooted in nice moral lessons kids can learn: work together, share, play together, be nice to your friends, never let a hotel heiress fund your school president election campaign, etc.
From a technical standpoint, the show looks totally adequate: full frame, nice colors, and decent black levels, all on par with a straight and narrow DVD transfer from television. Nothing stellar, but she does the job well. We get a 5.1 surround mode, which is a nice touch, but it's pretty superfluous. There isn't much in the way of rear channel immersion, bass response, or anything impressive -- just your standard television transfer, with center channel-focused dialogue.
A few extras are tossed in for good measure. We get a four-minute gag reel, worth the price of admission, as well as a set-top trivia game narrated by Brenda Song, letting fans play via the DVD remote. Cute stuff. If I was a kid, it would probably keep me entertained for a few minutes.
Now, for the sucky parts. Suite Sweet Victory has three episodes, full stop. Three episodes? That's like, barely an hour of material. Hypothesizing for a moment that I am a parent or a nine-year old girl, something I do all the time, could someone explain to me why I should buy a DVD with three episodes on it when the Disney Channel shows the same episodes in extreme rotation around the clock? Both of these hypothetical individuals would no doubt have this channel, would they not?
I'll admit The Suite Life is a cute show, but Sweet Suite Victory is of questionable value as a DVD purchase. Fans of the show should hold out for complete season releases. Still, if you're in a quick need for some Zack & Cody, this DVD fits the bill.
Review content copyright © 2007 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 66 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Gag Reel
* The Suite Life's Sweet Lift Challenge
* Set-Top Trivia Game