Disney // 2008 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // December 21st, 2008
What if only one star can shine?
If there's one thing Disney has learned well in the last 20 years (besides more effective marketing), it's how to create a successful series. No longer content with blockbuster films like The Lion King or The Little Mermaid, Disney has routinely released sequels and spin-offs to their masterpieces. They've decided to extend this strategy into their television holdings, with things like Hannah Montana and the High School Musical franchise. Although the Cheetah girls are nowhere near as big as those two titans, this Blu-ray release of their third film One World shows that Disney is willing to lavish a little attention on the threesome.
The Cheetah girls are floundering after the loss of their member Galleria (Raven Simoné), unable to find a gig. Because of the lack of work and their uncertain future, the girls are worried about what will happen to the Cheetah Girls. However, luck strikes when the three are tapped to star in a Bollywood movie. They travel all the way to India, only to discover that only one of them can star in the film. This sets off a competition that could spell doom for the Cheetah Girls.
This release is totally not aimed at my demographic (the 25-30 year old male with enough disposable income to buy a Blu-ray player), and I'm doubting that prospective Cheetah fans are going to use my judgment to determine whether they should buy this film. So, I'm aiming this part of the review at parents whose children are clamoring for more Cheetah Girls merchandise, including this release.
If you're already familiar with the Cheetah Girls, then this release is more of the same. The girls struggle with relationships with boys, competition, and worries about their future. The big difference this time is the film's setting in India. The departure of Galleria is explained away quickly in the film's opening minutes (she went away to college, in case you were wondering), and there's no family stuff going on this time out. For the curious who might have seen the film on Disney TV, the addition of the song "Feels Like Love" makes this an extended edition of the film.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Cheetah Girls, it's a surprisingly wholesome series about young women struggling to find themselves and remain friends despite being music/movie stars. Considering the push towards more provocative music from younger and younger women, the Cheetah girls are amazingly innocent. Some might find their dancing a bit suggestive, but it is miles away from the MTV-style bump and grind common with young performers. The girls are (unsurprisingly) focused on boys and relationships, but their interactions are very romantic and asexual. The main message of the film is that young women should believe in themselves and stick by their friends. I'm not a huge fan of the delivery, but I can't argue with the film's message.
Disney has been on board the Blu-ray bandwagon for quite a while, and even a relatively low-profile release like Cheetah Girls: One World gets a stellar presentation for the format. The video looks amazing. Colors really pop, and detail is high throughout the film. Because it is generally a bright, sunny film there are no problem with black levels or compression. The audio was equally impressive, with a hefty bottom end and a nice balance between dialogue and music. Extras aren't terribly extensive, but they'll appeal to fans of the film. There's a pop-up trivia track that contains tidbits about the Cheetah Girls and India. There's also a rock-along mode so that you can sing along with the film. There are also music videos for three of the songs in the film, as well as some bloopers.
It might seem obvious, but don't go to Cheetah Girls: One World for much of a view of Indian (or Bollywood) culture. This is stereotypical India, with swamis and elephants everywhere and lots of bright colors. I don't think it's shallow enough to be offensive to most, but it doesn't do nearly as good a job capturing India as Indian cinema does.
Again, this also might be redundant, but just about every aspect of Cheetah Girls: One World feels hopelessly generic, from the songs to the dancing on down to the acting. None of it is particularly bad, but none of it stands out as particularly good either. This might make it a bit tedious for parents to sit through.
Cheetah Girls: One World is a decent entry into the Disney line of films aimed at capturing the teenage music fan market. The girls have enough pluck to be good role models, and the plot is generic enough to not give offense. Because of the wonderful picture and sound quality, its easy to recommend this Blu-ray release of the film over the standard DVD edition.
Although it's hard to love the Cheetah Girls, it's even harder to hate them, so the court finds them not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Cheetah Spots" Trivia Track
* Rock-Along Mode
* Music Videos