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'5 Family Favorites' [Box-Set]
(Ice Cube, Nia Long, Elijah Wood, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / (1994-2015) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: From cross-country adventures to small-town shenanigans, it’s hours of quality, family entertainment in one fun-filled movie bundle!

DVD Verdict: In the first tale, 'Are We There Yet?' (2005, starring Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen, and Philip Bolden), the tag line is: 14 hours. 350 miles. His girlfriends’ kids. What could possibly go wrong?

Long distance driving, constant headaches, groaning and claustrophobia. Then, that tedious question arises...Are we there yet? But in the flick, 'Are We There Yet?', that question takes a new meaning.

Through a series of worst-case scenarios from deer attacks to a train race on horseback, Nick Persons (Ice Cube, Barbershop) experiences it all.

Beginning a timid romance between Persons and Suzanne Kingston (Nia Long, Boiler Room), possible babysitters for her children while she's away becomes few and far between, leaving Persons, a child-hater as the only viable option. He must transport Kingston's two "angelic" children 350 miles from Oregon to Vancouver. They attempt to make it in 24 hours by plane, train and automobile.

Directed by Brian Levant, director of Snow Dogs (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and Jingle All The Way (Arnold Schwarzenegger), he defines his love for making family-fun movies.

For what it was worth, the acting was decent. Ice Cube played a better role than I expected. Aleisha Allen (School of Rock) and Philip Bolden (Johnson Family Vacation) were well-cast. And the cherry on top of the acting was Jay Mohr (Pay It Forward, Jerry Maguire). The way the actors worked together accented the movie.

Cinematography in this movie was exactly what I expected. There were a few intriguing camera angles, better than I've seen from directors of Levant's credibility.

Then comes 'North' (1994) starring Elijah Wood, Jason Alexander, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Sick of the neglect he receives from his mom and dad, a young boy leaves home and travels the world in search of new parents.

This is, basically put, Director Rob Reiner in eccentric spirits, but not quite getting the offbeat laughs and sentimental subtext he was going for. Extremely unfunny fantasy concerns unappreciated youngster who receives emancipation from his parents under the proviso he find a new set of guardians within two months.

This celebrity-studded misfire is slick, but not clever, with Bruce Willis in nearly a career-killing role as an angelic "guide" (he's also the film's narrator, in what plays like a last minute decision to fill in all the gaps).

One or two fanciful scenes, but it needed more humor, less gooey uplift, and most especially an ending that didn't turn the picture into a pointless dodge.

Next up is 'Last Day of Summer' (2007) starring Jansen Panettiere, Alexandra Krosney, and Jennette McCurdy. The fun starts when 11-year old Luke wishes he could have his last day of vacation all over again - and his dreams come true!

I guess, in all truth, this made-for-TV tween movie addresses many of the fears/issues typical of the age group: relating to the opposite sex, learning to deal with bullies, and worrying that a move to a new school will affect existing friendships.

The main character discovers that it's only by facing his fears head-on that he can move past them and welcome the changes ahead. There's little here to worry parents of tweens, but they may want to remind kids that mean-spirited pranks (overturning an outhouse while a notorious bully is inside, for instance) aren't the best way to handle difficulties with peers.

A fun, family, interesting and revealing TV movie, for sure, but one that tackles some hard issues full on, that's for sure. So, keep an eye on the young teens that watch this as they will ask questions afterward, that's for sure!

Then comes 'Bandit and the Saints of Dogwood' (2015) and starring Katie McNamara, Makinnon O'Brien, Connor Oringderff and Skylar Feichtner, this delightful TV movie is an action/adventure-filled comedy chock full of fun and four-legged friends!

Lenna (McNamara), her furry best friend Bandit, and a few other students plan to pull a prank on the Principal the last day of school. However, the night of their dastardly deed, they encounter treasure map toting thieves looking for gold buried underneath the school's gym.

The students are discovered by the thieves and barely escape and they are blamed by the principal for the damage. Bandit recruits a few of his own four-legged pals to help the kids and lead them home. Come on now, how's this not the cutest ever-sounding kids movie to date?!

Lastly we get 'The Big Goofy Secret of Hidden Pines' (2013) starring Bruce Adel, Ashley Brinkman, Don Danielson and Elizabeth Lambert, 'The Big Goofy Secret of Hidden Pines' is an hilariously goofy family comedy from start to finish!

A vacationing family adopts a baby Sasquatch, which becomes a treasured member of its tight-knit community. Years later, the town's greedy mayor hatches a scheme to get rich by trapping the domesticated Bigfoot and exposing it to the press.

You see, the trouble is, one of its most-respected families, Howard, Jill and their daughter Ally, are now living with a 14-year-old Sasquatch (aka Bigfoot) named Bertie!

Complicating things is Bertie's inability to stay out of trouble and hidden from the local authorities who would see Bertie as nothing short of a circus freak.

The story takes on numerous comedic twists and turns as everyone in the town tries to protect Bertie and, ultimately, return him to his home in the wilderness where he belongs ... but will he go?

'The Big Goofy Secret of Hidden Pines' is the fourth feature film produced by Harmony Gold that has been acquired and distributed worldwide by Content Television and is, truly a most hilarious tale of cat and mouse filled with fun for the entire family! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.