Scholastic Video // 2004 // 57 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 29th, 2004
Winner of this year's Greatest Title for a DVD Ever contest.
What does a monkey, a kid that looks like a shark, and sassy little girl from the South have in common? No, it's not the cast of the next Fox reality show (ba dum bum!). They're the stars of a trifecta of children's stories, courtesy of Scholastic!
The disc sports three short storybook tales geared toward the little ones. Actually, you get five total, including the bonus two stories in the extras portion. Aside from "The Great White Man-Eating Shark" and "The Happy Lion" (from the bonuses) the stories are relayed in the old-school narration-over-varying-shots-of-the-book style. You know, where the camera would train across illustrations in different angles and zooms to stretch out the scene variety. Ah, Reading Rainbow, the memories!
The three headliners are "Curious George Rides a Bike," starring the famous little monkey with a penchant for mischief, "The Great White Man-Eating Shark" featuring a ugly little kid that looks like a shark, and "Flossie and the Fox," a Southern tale of a small girl's battle of wits with a fox.
Alright, kids, what have we got?
Curious George Rides a Bike
by H.A. Rey
George, the little anthropomorphic jungle escapee, lives in a monogamous relationship with The Man in the Yellow Hat, an enigmatic persona who wears only a safari uniform and considers a monkey is best friend.
Here, we see George's curiosity lead him into a series of adventures atop a new bicycle. These include his acceptance as a paper delivery, er, boy (the townsfolk seem to have no problem accepting a monkey on a bicycle throwing newspapers at them). But George's A.D.D. kicks in halfway through the route and he abandons the job, opting instead to make sailboats out of the newspapers and send them down the river. One thing leads to another and George finds himself a) picked up by two strange men willing to give hitchhiking monkeys a lift, b) rescuing a bear, and c) participating in a gala animal show. Man that monkey does more in ten minutes than I'll do in my whole life!
Analysis: Nostalgia is the big winner for me, but small kids not totally bankrupt of focus should enjoy the story.
B + for Bananas plus fun!
The Great White Man-Eating Shark
by Margaret Mahy
Norvin, a boy with an ugly name that matches his ugly features, has found his calling as a world-class swimmer. His shark-shape aids him in his crawl stroke, but his favorite lagoon is always packed with people! Upset at constantly colliding with bystanders, Norvin decides to strap on a homemade dorsal fin and scare people out of the water.
The morons fall for the gag, but eventually venture into the water. Norvin repeats his diabolical scheme until the water is all his to practice in. What he doesn't expect is to be hounded by the real deal, a female shark looking for some love.
Analysis: The animation helps with the interest, and the repetitive style of the story is kids books formula. Norvin is funny looking, thus entertaining, and you can't beat the moral: if you're ugly you're probably also a selfish jerk.
B for Bastard!
Flossie and the Fox
Flossie has a demanding task to accomplish. The little girl must deliver a basket full of eggs to the other side of the woods. But within the forest is a deceptive fox that has been harassing townsfolk and -- forgive me -- poaching eggs.
When Flossie encounters the egg-thief in the woods, she preys upon the fox's ego, asking for proof that he's a fox and not an imposter. For about ten minutes, the two go back and forth with "you ain't a fox" and "am to."
She manages to keep the fox distracted enough to not notice he's been snookered...
Analysis: This will be a tough sell for the kids used to exploding monsters and spandex-clad superheroes riding around in Dino Zords. Unfortunately not much happens, and it doesn't happen for a while.
C for "Can we go to bed yet?!"
The video is a hodge-podge of archival story footage and more modern illustrating. As a result, the stories can range from scratch and blurry to relatively crisp. But the kids won't care. They won't care about the sound either (a stereo mix), as it's just narration.
Extras include two bonus stories, "The Happy Lion" and "Cat and Canary," two short, low-impact features that will offer an additional twelve-minute or so of amusement.
Harmless and violence-free, these blasts-from-the-past could provide a refreshing alternative to the sugar-laden kiddie entertainment of after-school kinetic-fests. And who doesn't love Curious George?
Not guilty. Have a cookie and some milk.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Scholastic Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 57 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Two bonus stories
* Spanish version of "Curious George Rides a Bike"
* Read along
* Official Curious George Book Site