Case Number 15648: Small Claims Court


Disney // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 9th, 2009

The Charge

New style. New look. New world.

The Case

This is my first encounter with the Disney Channel original series Wizards of Waverly Place. Shockingly, some bigshot TV exec though there was mileage to be gotten out of young kids learning magic and getting into trouble. Wonder where that inspiration came from? Anywho, the show is about a family of magic-wielders who also own a café, for some reason. When they're not slinging hash, the kids are learning all manner of wacky spells, which always come into a play at some point in the episode's adventure. Grab your wand and strap in for some lightweight teen comedy featuring the worst laugh-track I've ever heard...and that includes Scooby-Doo.

Four episodes of magical tomfoolery!

"Credit Check"
Alex (Selena Gomez, Another Cinderella Story) is offered an internship at a high-profile fashion magazine and instantly makes her mark with great ideas that (of course) make her boss jealous. She decides to sabotage his reputation, at an upcoming fashion show, but wouldn't you know it. Her plan backfires and she's forced to use the Freeze Frame spell to try and repair the situation. Meanwhile, Justin, the older brother, finds himself hopelessly enamored with the new waitress.

"Smarty Pants"
Gearing up for the school's big quiz bowl, Alex inadvertently screws up the buzzer wiring and electrocutes one of the girls on the team. She agrees to fill in and, fearing she'll get crushed in the competition, dons some experimental "wizard wear" to gain a magical advantage. But -- wait for it -- her scheme backfires! Back in junior high, Max the young brother tries to make money bottling fountain water.

"Beware Wolf"
Justin's new flame, Isabella, is displaying some bizarre personality traits; she's acting like a dog. That's right, he's dating a werewolf and it's not long until he becomes a werewolf himself, clad in extraordinarily inexpensive makeup and fur.

"Graphic Novel"
In the most experimental episode of the batch, Alex's brothers discover her "magic journal," which apparently allows Alex to live in a fantasy world, filmed with one of those watercolor filters from Photoshop. Unfortunately, Alex's school nemesis is accidentally sucked into the journal and it's up to the young Russo wizards to work their magic mojo and handle their bidness.

And that's your DVD. The show is corny and riddled with lame jokes, but I can see where its pre-adolescent appeal comes from. Selena Gomez is a charmer and certainly sports some of that Hannah Montana-ish feistiness. She's definitely the star of the show, and the plots smartly orbit around her. What's not the star of the show? That laugh-track. Simply awful.

The disc: a nice enough full frame transfer and 2.0 stereo mix, a boatload of trailers, and a behind-the-scenes featurettes on the show's costume department.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile
Studio: Disney
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Featurettes

* IMDb