Disney // 2009 // 68 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // September 22nd, 2009
All aboard for a full-length adventure!
I'm only casually familiar with the current Disney Channel lineup. You know, you invest yourself in these shows, fall in love with these mischievous yet lovable kids, and then they just grow up and are replaced with carbon copies of themselves. All kidding aside, I am well aware that I'm not part of the Disney Channel demographic. Odds are you either desperately love this stuff or you can't tolerate it, and I imagine that applies even more when dealing with something like this crossover extravaganza. Combining the mighty forces of Disney Channel sitcoms Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life on Deck, and Hannah Montana, Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana offers fans of all three programs an opportunity to see their favorite young characters interact.
The plot of this 68-minute adventure is so convoluted and complicated the first 55 minutes or so is dedicated to set-up. For the sake of not spoiling everything, let's go with the simple version. Teens and pre-teens Justin Russo (David Henrie, Method and Red), Alex Russo (Selena Gomez, Another Cinderella Story), Max Russo (Jake T. Austin, Hotel for Dogs), Zack Martin (Dylan Sprouse, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody), Cody Martin (Cole Sprouse, According to Jim), London Tipton (Brenda Song, Camp Rock), normal girl/rocker Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus, Bolt) and her sidekick Lilly Truscott/Lola Luftnagle (Emily Osment, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over) are all enjoying a cruise aboard the SS Tipton. Many wacky hijinks ensue.
The basic appeal of a crossover event like this is getting the opportunity to see characters from one program get involved in some silly situation with the characters of another program, and you'll find plenty of that on display. Justin wins the opportunity to get his picture taken with the wealthy London, and attempts to convince her to go out on a date with him. Cody tells his friends that he knows Hannah Montana, but is frustrated when Hannah insists that she doesn't remember him. Alex finds a somewhat unlikely kindred spirit in Zack. Meanwhile, people are smeared with cake, squished by giant inflatable items, dyed with blue ink, and caught up in a wide variety of minor deceptions that into "comically" complicated situations.
Looking at Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana as an outsider who doesn't keep up with the week-to-week developments of the three programs involved, the event more or less fails as a standalone experience. The plotting is horribly awkward and needlessly complicated, essential background information on the characters isn't provided to newcomers (like the fact that Alex has magical abilities), and the payoff for all of the headache-inducing set-up is barely worthy of being called a payoff. Disney is marketing this thing as a standalone film, but it's only going to work for those who have already invested in at least a couple of the participating programs. Again, the special is basically review-proof since you have either no interest or you're all, "Oh my God, it's a crossover event featuring all of my all-time favorite shows! Eeeeeee!"
The transfer is bright and vibrant, offering sharp detail, deep blacks and accurate flesh tones. The 5.1 sound is clear and boisterous, well-mixed and involving. Basically, it's what you'd expect from the pros at Disney. Supplements are somewhat disappointing, considering that they're limited to a brief educational featurette on how to write an essay, a 5-minute behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the event and a shameless little promotional piece in which Zack and Cody pimp the virtues of Blu-ray.
It is what it is. If you're desperate to see this hyperactive mess, there's absolutely nothing I can do to stop you. At least the DVD looks and sounds solid.
Review content copyright © 2009 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 68 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* IMDb: Wizards of Waverly Place
* IMDb: The Suite Life on Deck
* IMDb: Hannah Montana