The Secret of the Magic Gourd

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: G

Starring:
Peisi Chen as Bao Hu Lu
Gigi Leung as Miss Liu
Qilong Zhu as Wang Bao

Special Features:
Bloopers
Backstage Disney
Games and Activities
Music Video

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Mandarin and Cantonese Language Tracks
Running Time: 85 Minutes

The Movie:
The following is the official description of the film:

“Experience a magical story about the boundless limits of imagination and the strength we each have inside us with Disney’s heartwarming film ‘The Secret of the Magic Gourd.’ Based on the beloved children s novel and featuring the voice talent of ‘High School Musical’s’ Corbin Bleu, this wondrous fantasy is sure to delight the entire family.

When an inquisitive 11-year-old discovers a mythical, magical gourd while fishing, he has no idea of the trouble that lies at the end of his hook. With the ability to grant any and every wish, The Magic Gourd attempts to make all of the boy’s dreams come true, but instead succeeds in turning his world upside down.

Enjoy every moment of this enchanting adventure as a curious child discovers that the best things in life are those he earns himself.”

“The Secret of the Magic Gourd” is rated G.

Mini-Review:
If you’ve ever watched Asian children’s films, then you know it can be a mixture of weird and wonderful. Such is the case with “The Secret of the Magic Gourd.” There is a lot of cool stuff in it. We’re treated to amazing scenes where goldfish swim in the air and are picked up by the young boy. We see an army of toys from a store follow him home. We see the boy sucked into a film and run screaming from a dinosaur. There are scenes of the boy flying over the city with a small rocket. These scenes mesmerize children and adults alike.

Where “The Secret of the Magic Gourd” stops working, at least for American audiences, is in the story. It simply doesn’t make much sense. Rather than having a real coherent plot, it seems more like a lot of “wouldn’t it be cool if’s” written and strung together by a third grader. But if your kids are in third grade or are younger, they’re probably going to enjoy this a lot. Normally when I watch movies with my kids, they get bored and wander away before it’s over. This time around I was the one that wandered away while my kids sat utterly enthralled by the story. The end of the film reveals the true nature of the gourd and the fact that he represents a reflection of what’s in the heart of the young boy, but I think I would have appreciated the rest of the film more if I knew that from the beginning.

Like everything else in this movie, the computer animation is a mix or good and bad. The scenes with the fish look fantastic mainly because they’re doing something new and unique. Other scenes aren’t quite as successful because the animation looks a bit more crude. The gourd itself generally looks detached from the live action. In short, it’s a lot easier to forgive the less polished animation when the scenes are dazzling you with their creativity.

I’d recommend leaving “The Secret of the Magic Gourd” to the kiddies. If you’re an adult, you may want to pop in here and there to see the cool stuff. But otherwise this film won’t be all that accessible to Western adult audiences.

The bonus features are rather lean on this DVD. You’ll find a fake blooper reel (think the Pixar bloopers from the credits), a game, and a Chinese music video. There is also a behind the scenes featurette with the original Chinese cast and crew (it is entirely subtitled). You won’t find anything on the American production of this. Fans of Corbin Bleu will have to cry themselves to sleep on their “High School Musical” pillows.

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