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Scholastic Video presents
Pete's a Pizza...and more William Steig stories (1976-98)

"As I live and flourish! A talking bone!"
- The Fox (John Lithgow), in The Amazing Bone

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: March 16, 2003

Stars: Chevy Chase, John Lithgow
Director: Peter Reynolds, Gary Goldberger, Michael Sporn

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:27m:21s
Release Date: March 25, 2003
UPC: 767685953532
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+BB B+

DVD Review

If you've got kids and you don't already know the stories of William Steig, you should. They're cute and funny without being cloying and condescending, and they bear up to repeated readings. Happily, Scholastic brings three of them to DVD in their on-screen incarnations.

Chevy Chase narrates the whimsical title story, in which the title character is bumming because the rain is keeping him from playing ball with his pals—so Pete's father takes his sad little boy and decides to bake him into a pizza. Checkers serve as tomato slices, talcum powder as flour, tap water as olive oil, and shreds of paper as cheese—it's good silly fun until the sun comes out again.

Doctor De Soto pits a rodent dentist against a sly fox with a toothache—will the fox be content merely with having his tooth removed, or is he looking to dine on the good doctor and the missus, his dental assistant? Someone proves to be slier than the fox, in another charming tale.

John Lithgow provides all the voices in the final story, in which Pearl the Pig has a chance encounter with The Amazing Bone, which can speak, sing, produce any animal sound, and scare the wits out of the enemies of the Bone's chosen protector. Luckily for Pearl, the Bone takes a shine to her, and helps her ward off another problematic wolf who has designs on Pearl for supper.

They're a trio of well-told tales, on a disc that won't have you groaning about repeated viewings.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Good saturated colors in the transfer; the original animation varies in quality from story to story, but they're all well served by the bright work here, and especially by the true palette and black levels.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: As with the picture, the audio quality of the original animated shorts varies, and some hiss can be heard in the transfer, but generally the work here is clean, and the dialogue and narration can be discerned with little or no problem.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 3 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. three bonus stories
Extras Review: Three stories based on books not by Steig make up the bulk of the extras. In the first, we meet The Three Robbers (05m:42s), not the brightest lights on the Christmas tree—they have been stealing and hoarding gold for years, and only the suggestion of a sweet little girl brings them to their senses. They become unwitting Robin Hoods, erecting a castle for the protection and rearing of orphans, who come to love the three robbers like family. A little daffy, and maybe a little scary for the very youngest children, but a fine story.

The next asks that age-old question: Is biology destiny? Norvin dreams of being an actor, but he's got an uncanny resemblance to The Great White Man-Eating Shark (09m:41s). After fighting it, Norvin embraces his inner shark, straps a fake fin on his back, and scares the daylights out of his fellow beach-goers. Jaws is decidedly not for the pre-school set, but this one safely is.

Rounding out the set: Everybody's got to get out of the house every now and again, even the man in the moon. Moon Man (08m:53s) imagines his journey to earth—he crash lands to much media uproar, and slips out of his jail cell when his phase goes from full to crescent. The proverbial absent-minded professor helps out Moon Man, and restores the rightful order to the cosmos.

Getting to Know William Steig (06m:40s) is a clip from a longer documentary of the same name, in which Steig discusses some of his books (several of which aren't mentioned elsewhere on this disc), pays homage to his muse, best friend and wife, Jean, and discusses the strange paths on which life can take us—he didn't start writing children's books until he was in his 60s. His manner is slightly gruff and grumpy, but it's no surprise that all in all he seems like a very nice man.

Chapter stops are for each of the stories; English subtitles can be found under the Read Along option; and the trailer is for the many titles released by Scholastic Video.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Another winner from Scholastic, likely to win over the pre-school demographic, and their caretakers, to boot.


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