Pet Shop Blu-ray Review

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Shopping for Aliens

Cactus Flats, Arizona looks awfully plain. Everyone drives the same car. Houses look identical. Each storefront uses the same signage. There’s no identity to this town, which the Yeagher family inadvertently changes with their arrival.

In a better movie, the Yeagher’s east coast color (and phony Brooklyn accents) might invigorate this small American desert outpost. Pet Shop is not that movie. Certainly, it’s colorful and wildly overwritten. The Yeagher’s move to Cactus Flats because the father (Terry Kiser) spoke up against a mobster; into witness protection they go.

At the same time, aliens drop into town, taking over a small pet store. They take the identity of cartoonish cowboys, attempting to fit into Cactus Flats’ dull west culture. Their plan is to lure kids with the promise of puppies. That’s creepy. Creepier still, their goal is to sell the kids to intergalactic high bidders on the auction block for… reasons. Don’t ask.

Where once Pet Shop’s VHS box art stuck out in a video store, it’s little else other than a nostalgia fix for Gen-X

Aiming young, Pet Shop stars a handful of unknown child actors. They hardly matter. Puppets and animatronics deserve a nod for their starring role. Hardly distanced from the prior year’s Prehysteria, the formula repeats. Alien creatures find their way into suburbia, cause some low budget trouble, and eventually save the planet. It’s cute and corny, at least on the surface.

Most of the mayhem is mild, no more advanced than something seen on Nickelodeon in 1994. A scene where the kids gather to cook food for their newfound pets may well be cut from a TV sitcom of the period. Pet Shop is every bit a product of the ‘90s – a VHS memory, a fashion disaster, and with a glimmer of early computer effects indicating an eventual shift in filmmaking technique. Some cringe-inducing body shaming is best left in the ‘90s too, especially shameful considering the female-led story.

Each animal helps the young stars establish their identities – a lizard for the quirky girl, a cool lizard for the average boy, a plump furry thing for the generic pudgy kid, and a puppy for the lead teen girl. It’s simple, allowing the minuscule fantasy to move forward with some energy. Pet Shop tries as it skews young, even younger than Prehysteria, making story elements like selling children on a marketplace stand out.

Pet Shop now exists in a world where entertainment for the younger set is a bloated market of online streaming content; Pet Shop doesn’t fit anywhere. Where once Pet Shop’s VHS box art stuck out in a video store, it’s little else other than a nostalgia fix for Gen-X.

Video

Unseen on home video since VHS, Pet Shop’s hi-def debut looks passable. Grain structure is immediately notable, large and clumpy. This doesn’t have the look of a high-resolution source, murky and gunky in a way lesser transfers often appear.

It’s colorful at least. High saturation gives the alien critters plenty of vibrancy. Blues and greens look wonderful. Some reds stretch into glowing territory, especially lipstick. By design, the town sits in a persistent beige, allowing the Yeagher’s clothing to stick out.

Contrast doesn’t pose a challenge. Most of Pet Shop takes place during the day in bright exterior lighting. That helps reduce grain and keep imagery perky. Darker scenes add dense black levels without crush. This leaves room for detail, even with the so-so mastering. Close-ups score points for facial detail and exteriors grab the town’s texture.

Audio

Remixed for 5.1, this primarily utilizes the stereo channels. That’s no surprise when considering the VHS origins. Ambient spread inside the pet store will capture some chirps and barks across the fronts. Outside, the downtown area produces mild effects such as cars passing.

A small score adds nice bass where the sedate action cannot. While only Dolby Digital, fidelity doesn’t exhibit any faults. Range is fine, and clarity stays consistent.

Extras

Originally included on the VHS, the 20-minute Videozone features a bevy of trailers and promo materials for Full Moon/Moonbeam features.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Pet Shop
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

A ’90s era relic, Pet Shop is generally harmless, corny entertainment for super young kids even with some questionable undertones.

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