Tag Archives: DVD Review

DVD Reviews: “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Numbers Roundup” and “Handy Manny: Big Construction Job” with Mickey Mote

My three-year-old son’s first words were “poop” and “remote,” so when Disney announced its Mickey Mote line of DVDs, I knew we had a winner. If your little ones share his fascination for anything that has buttons and can reprogram your TiVo to record The Jimmy Sturr Show while you aren’t looking, you’ll want to check this out.

Basically, what we have here is a chunky red remote, shaped like Mickey’s head, that works with a growing catalog of DVDs, two of which Disney was kind enough to send along with the Mickey Mote. Having let my little menace have his way with the Mote while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Numbers Roundup and Handy Manny: Big Construction Job, I can tell you that it works as advertised — and these titles, while certainly devoid of anything I’d voluntarily watch on my own, are chock full of Disney Channel fun.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is the Disney Channel’s top-rated offering for toddlers, and Numbers Roundup bundles roughly 100 minutes’ worth of simple math adventure for the little ones. You can navigate the DVD with the Mickey Mote, and use it to watch in Discovery Mode, a two-tiered feature which asks the kids to answer questions (easy or slightly more difficult, depending on age level) using the buttons. It’s nothing more revolutionary than the Teddy Ruxpin doll that used to talk to your TV, but the Mickey Mote is easy to program, and its four big buttons (star, square, circle, triangle) are simple to use.

And then there’s Handy Manny: Big Construction Job, a feature-length adventure starring Disney’s copyright-baiting mashup of Bob the Builder and Diego the Explorer. I personally find it rather astonishing that this show has been nominated for an Emmy, but it’s fun to imagine Wilmer Valderrama (who voices Manny) trapped in a cartoon world, and my son loves Bob the Builder, so he was all over Big Construction Job. Again, Discovery Mode is both simple and robust; probably the worst thing about the Mickey Mote is that my kids are going to start reaching for the real remote again.

If you’re looking for affordable gifts for your kids during the holidays, you could do worse than the Mickey Mote and its attendant DVDs — a DVD/Mote set will set you back about $25, and the standalone Mote-enabled movies are about $20. Think of them as less pricey alternatives to Leapster games, and you’re on the right track.

DVD Reviews: Scholastic Storybook Treasures Roundup

There are so many Scholastic Storybook Treasures releases that you need a special shelf (or three) just to hold them all, which makes it something of a challenge to review them as they come out — but release schedules be damned, this is one product lineup that deserves your attention, no matter how massive it gets. These three titles are the latest Treasures to grace the Scholastic Storybook lineup:

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! … and More Animal Adventures, featuring five stories and a handful of extras. The extras are more for parents — your kids probably aren’t going to sit still for interviews with the author and illustrator of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! — but the main feature includes about an hour’s worth of dependably entertaining stuff. The headliner is Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s 1989 favorite, which gives the wolf’s perspective of the classic tale; here, it’s narrated by the suitably wolfish Paul Giamatti.

Batting second is the Zach Braff-narrated Wallace’s Lists, adapted from the Barbara Bottner/Gerald Kruglik/Olof Landstrom book about a mildly OCD mouse whose need for lists is challenged by a new friend; rounding out the disc are animated versions of Helme Heine’s The Pig’s Wedding, D.B. Johnson’s Henry Builds a Cabin, and Simms Taback’s This Is the House That Jack Built. They’re all fine stories, loosely connected by theme, and offering the same blend of entertainment and education (the box says this title supports “early reading, problem solving, and friendship,” if you’re worried about that sort of thing), and for less than $15, it’s a worthy addition to your rainy-day DVD stash. Continue reading

DVD Review: Scholastic Storybook Treasures, “The Halloween Stories Collection”

Scholastic Storybook Treasures: The Halloween Stories Collection (Weston Woods/NewVideo, 2010)

They’ve put together so many collections that I can’t believe they still have any new ones left to release, but if there’s a series that deserves infinite installments, it’s Scholastic Storybook Treasures — and there they go again, with a three-hour-plus bundle of 18 creepy (not really), crawly (maybe a little) stories celebrating the Halloween season. Perfect for teachers looking for a classroom treat, parents of trick-or-treating youngsters, or kids who get a kick out of seeing their favorite books come to (occasionally somewhat limited) life onscreen, The Halloween Stories Collection is good, clean seasonal fun — and at under $12.50 at Amazon, it’s priced to sell, too.

Synopsis: 18 not-so-scary stories in a 3 DVD collection. From the kid-friendly Halloween stories A Very Brave Witch and By the Light of the Halloween Moon, to family favorites The Teacher From the Black Lagoon and Where the Wild Things Are, kids and parents delight watching their favorite books spring to life on DVD.

Where the Wild Things Are
In the Night Kitchen
Alligators All Around
One Was Johnny
Chicken Soup with Rice
A Very Brave Witch
By the Light of the Halloween Moon
A Dark, Dark Tale
The Witch in the Cherry Tree
The Three-Legged Cat
The Three Robbers
Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain
Continue reading