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20th Century Fox presents
Ping! (2001)

"I should have done that taco commercial. Who knew it was gonna be so big?"
- Ping (voice of Brian Donovan)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: September 04, 2001

Stars: Clint Howard, Judge Reinhold
Other Stars: Shirley Jones, Brook Winn
Director: Chris Baugh

MPAA Rating: PG for (comic violence, mild language, some sensuality and crude humor)
Run Time: 01h:33m:17s
Release Date: September 04, 2001
UPC: 024543021568
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C-C+C+ D+

DVD Review

I curse Chris Columbus. He had to go and make Home Alone, didn't he? Just because it was a big hit, fully half of all kids films since then have strived to copy the most elements possible from the Macauly Culkin star vehicle.

This year's model is Ping!, and at least it stars a cute dog instead of an annoying kid. Ping (voiced by Brian Donovan) is picked up from the pound by an eccentric old lady (Shirley Jones) as a present for her granddaughter (Brook Winn), who is down in the dumps because her parents died in a fiery plane crash only one year prior (those temperamental kids!). If Granny wanted to fill the gaping hole in her child's soul with the affections of an adorable rat-like creature, then she chose the right dog! Ping takes a shine to the girl, even if she is mean to him. "I'm sorry I was mean to you, dog. I've been mean to everyone lately. You see, my parents died in a plane crash a year ago," says Haley. Whoa, I think she needs a therapist with less than four legs. Anyway, Granny seems to be having some troubles with the IRS; she doesn't believe in banks and would rather keep the cash in her house. Two criminals (played by character actors Clint Howard and Judge Reinhold, scraping the bottom of the barrel) discover this fact, and try to rob her. It's up to Ping to save the day, all without the use of opposable thumbs.

Ping! is full of the kind of absurd story touches that only seem to populate obscure children's films. For example, Grandma thinks the dog is a cat, and everyone else thinks it's a rat. Heh. We also get intermittent glimpses at Ping's inner fantasies, as he imagines himself a commandog in Vietnam (?), especially during his interactions with to Siamese cats (complete with stereotypical Asian accents). The script is sporadically amusing, with one or two clever lines sneaking their way through, as when Haley's babysitter, dressed in Goth, comments, "I used to be a redhead. That's when I wanted to be a fashion model. But my boyfriend Drac says that models have sold out to the imperialist corporate parasite. When me and my friends turn 18, we're all gonna get our belly buttons pierced to show our individualism."

The acting is about what you'd expect. Howard and Reinhold get top billing, and I admit, any film with them both is quite appealing. They do their best Daniel Stern/Joe Pesci impressions. (So, let me get this straight, you play not just thieves, but bumbling thieves? Brilliant!) Shirley Jones has fun with her role, but she is way too saccharine in the "tender" moments with her granddaughter. Winn is fairly good for a child actor, but mostly, she's there to look cute. Ping himself is adorable, provided you like the breed, and does a lot of licking of things and looking at the camera.

Look at that cover art! It just demands to be seen! And parents could do worse than give this one a rent for kiddie movie night.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The film is presented in its original, full-frame ratio, and it looks ok, but it does suffer from some problems. First of all, the transfer seems overly dark, and in the dimly lit scenes, fleshtones take on a reddish tone. Blacks are solid, but shadow detail and contrast are very poor, and thus, the dark scenes (most of the film) look fairly muddy. Some scenes suffer from artifacting and a pixelized look. The image is a bit soft, but there is no visible edge enhancement.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The audio transfer is only fair, but the film doesn't demand all that much. The mix is confined to the front soundstage, with no action at all in the surrounds. Dialogue is well represented, but at times, ADR is obvious. The jaunty, annoying score fills out the sound a bit. There is little in the way of directional effects. I suppose it gets the job done.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring To Walk With Lions, Mom's Outta Sight
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo gallery
  2. Ping! A Chihuahua Profile
Extras Review: Aside from the trailer and a Fox Flix preview gallery, Ping! features some brief text supplements, including cast biographies and a brief history of the breed in Ping! A Chihuahua Profile. The photo gallery is just stills from the film. Ooo, impress me with your mastery of the pause button!

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Ping! is pretty much what you'd expect from a movie about a talking Chihuahua: OK kids fare, but nothing more.


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