Max Keeble’s Big Move appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Unfortunately, Disney decided that the folks who want to see Max Keeble’s Big Move would prefer to watch it in an altered aspect ratio, not its original 1.85:1 dimensions. This means that fans are stuck with this edition; I’ve heard no plans for a DVD release with the correct ratio. This left an image that often seemed somewhat cramped on the sides.
In addition to the lack of the original theatrical dimensions, Max showed a mix of other problems, though it generally presented a decent image. For the most part, the picture remained crisp and well defined. Some shots displayed modest softness, but those concerns appeared infrequently. Most of the film displayed distinct and accurate images. I noticed no issues related to jagged edges or moiré effects, but some light edge enhancement showed up at times. In regard to print flaws, the picture seemed a little grainy at times, and I also detected a few nicks and mix of grit, specks, and other marks. The defects never seemed oppressive, but they appeared too heavy for such a new movie.
During most of the film, I found the colors to look nicely bold and vibrant. The movie exhibited a nicely broad palette even through the northern setting, and the DVD usually displayed vivid hues. Black levels appeared deep and rich, but shadow detail seemed acceptable at best. Some low-light sequences looked a bit murky, though they usually displayed acceptable clarity. Ultimately, Max Keeble’s Big Move presented a watchable image, but even when I disregarded the annoying absence of the original aspect ratio, I found it to contain too many concerns for such a recent film.
For Max Keeble’s Big Move, we got a decent Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Music showed good stereo delineation, and effects created a reasonably lively and convincing setting across the front. Elements were appropriately located, and they blended together cleanly. In general, the film offered a good sense of atmosphere. Surround usage seemed somewhat limited, as the movie generally presented little more than basic reinforcement from the rears. Some scenes offered decent activity from the rear; for example, a segment in the school auditorium provided a nice level of chatter. Nonetheless, the track mainly favored the forward channels.
Audio quality seemed positive but not great. Speech showed the main problems, as dialogue occasionally sounded edgy and rough. In general, the lines were a bit unnatural, though they always remained intelligible. Music sounded bright and bouncy, as both score and songs demonstrated good range and fidelity. Effects also worked well. They appeared vivid and clear, and they showed no signs of distortion. Those elements and the music also displayed very solid bass response. The low-end always seemed deep and rich as well. Overall, the audio for Max worked acceptably well, but the track lost points due to its lack of ambition and the moderately weak quality of the speech.
The DVD release of Max Keeble’s Big Move includes a modest mix of supplements. First we encounter an audio commentary from director Tim Hill, producer Mike Karz, and actors Alex D. Linz, Larry Miller, and Jamie Kennedy. Entitled “Five on the Film”, all of them were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece. Many multiple-participant tracks of this sort suffer from chaotic interaction, but that’s not really a problem here. Instead, the commentary loses points because there’s not enough interaction. Actually, the five guys chat a lot and mix together well, but real information appears only sporadically. The commentary gives us bits and pieces about the making of the movie, but we get a lot of general remarks about how much everyone likes it. Linz seems very obnoxious, but he’s a kid - he’s entitled. Hill and Karz provide surprisingly little material, while Kennedy and Miller toss out a few funny bits. Kennedy comes across as moderately baked, actually. Overall, the commentary may offer some enjoyment for big fans of the film, but I think it seems fairly dull and uninformative.
In Max’s Missing Scenes, we encounter 12 deleted segments. Each of these lasts between 25 seconds and two minutes, 12 seconds for a total of 13 minutes, 52 seconds of footage. To my surprise, much of this footage actually seems fairly entertaining. It’s too bad there’s no commentary to accompany it, for I’d like to hear why it got cut. I’d assume it’s because much of it appears moderately redundant, but it’s still decent stuff. The area also includes the full version of the MacGoogles theme song.
In the category of “Insulted Injury”, note that the deleted scenes for Max all appear in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. That’s great, but I wish we could watch the actual movie in the same dimensions.
Next we locate a featurette called Alex to the Max. This seven minute and 55 second piece purports to show a day in the life of an actor from Alex D. Linz’s point of view. It also tosses in very brief soundbites from director Hill, producer Karz, and actors Zena Grey and Josh Peck, but their comments don’t add up to much. Instead, the program largely consists of Linz’s generic statements and some decent footage from the set. The latter makes this show moderately entertaining, but it’s nothing special.
With Max’s Halls of Knowledge and Stuff, we get a trivia game. Proceed through it and you’ll actually get a decent reward: some outtakes from the movie that show alternate endings. The questions are very easy, but the interface makes progress slow; like a cheesy CD-ROM game from 1994, it takes forever to move Max through the halls of the middle school. Still, I’m happy that we receive a prize for this effort; too many DVD trivia games give you nothing substantial at the end.
When you start the DVD, you’ll find the usual complement of advertisements. Here we get a preview of the upcoming theatrical release Spy Kids 2 as well as commercials for Beauty and the Beast, The Rookie, Monsters Inc., Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch, and Snow Dogs. From the main menu, you’ll discover a Sneak Peeks area that includes trailers for the upcoming DVD releases of Teamo Supremo, Tarzan and Jane, Mickey’s House of Villains - incorrectly called Haunted House of Mouse in the menu - and Schoolhouse Rock.
In the DVD-ROM area, we find two features. In addition to a weblink for the Disney video site, we get a game called Max Keeble’s Ultimate Food Fight. Little more than a simple target-shooting contest, it actually is more fun than I expected. The four-level contest starts easy but gets somewhat hectic by the end, and it seems fairly well executed for what it offers. In addition, you get a minor reward if you complete it: a short featurette that looks at the creation of the film’s food fight scene.
As one outside of its target audience, I can’t say that Max Keeble’s Big Move did much for me. The movie had a few entertaining moments, but most folks over the age of 14 will find little to enjoy here. The DVD release of Max left a lot to be desired. Not only did Disney decide to release only a fullscreen version of the film, but also the quality of the picture seemed moderately flawed. At least the audio sounded generally good, and the set also included a reasonable roster of extras.
Although Max Keeble’s Big Move presented decent fare for its audience, ultimately I can’t recommend the DVD, largely because of the absence of original aspect ratio (OAR). To see a brand-new film hit DVD with no OAR option seems unthinkable, but here’s an example. I just can’t urge anyone to rush out to buy a pan and scan product like this, especially since it doesn’t even present a strong picture within the fullscreen parameters. For those who don’t care about aspect ratios, is the image quality problematic enough to make them skip the disc? No, the movie actually looked decent to good; it just showed more flaws than I’d expect from a brand-new film. I’d still hope that folks who care about original ratios would avoid Max Keeble’s Big Move and make sure Disney knows their displeasure with the product.