Disney // 2007 // 48 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // April 30th, 2010
Full-throttle fun for everyone!
Handy Manny is back in his latest adventure, putting his foot to the metal in the Wood Valley 500 car race! The latest DVD installment of the popular Playhouse Disney show should be easily appreciated by the notoriously fussy and hard-to-please key demographic of males and females ages 3-7.
Handy Manny: Big Race features three episodes:
* "Handy Manny Big Race"
Manny and the Tools and their friend Elliot have to turn a beat-up jalopy into the fastest, most coolest racecar ever in order to win the Wood Valley 500 race! It's going to take some serious teamwork, but Manny and friends can get the job done! When Elliot is unable to take the wheel, it's up to Manny to win the race!
* "Bunny In The Basement"
Manny and the Tools get called to replace a grate in a basement, only to find that a bunny rabbit has invited itself in! It's up to Manny to fix the hole, as well as solve the bunny situation.
* "Fast Eddie's Scooter"
When Manny and the Tools put in an order for lunch, they're surprised when no food shows up. Unfortunately for them (and the rest of the town), Fast Eddie's scooter has a bent wheel, so no food deliveries can be made. Manny to the rescue!
Handy Manny is a bit youthful for my tastes, but is harmless and wholesome entertainment. Manny (Wilmer Valderrama, That '70s Show) is the local handyman in town, good-natured and friendly to everyone, always helping people out with their odd jobs and things that need fixing. His Tools are a bit on the creepy side, on account of them being totally sentient and flying through the air to fix things without being asked. Also, they usually speak Spanish, because Handy Manny is a language-based learning show. Manny and the Tools drop Spanish words and phrases here and there and then helpfully explain their meaning to all around them. The idea being, I assume, to expose your tiny land mammals to good ol' espanol nice and early in their development. Not sure how much scientific is involved here, but it makes a certain kind of logical sense.
Outside of the fact that the tools kind of freak me out, there's not much to dislike about this show. It's cheerful, brightly colored, and pleasantly animated, with catchy, upbeat musical numbers and is friendly as all get-out. Every episode centers on co-operation, teamwork and getting things done one step a time -- all great lessons for young, impressionable youths. Toss a bit of rudimentary Spanish 101 into the mix, and Handy Manny is a hit. Honestly -- what's not to like? Call it Disney's answer to Dora the Explorer and Bob the Builder.
From a technical perspective, this disc gets the job done. The full-frame presentation won't win any awards, but colors are vibrant and pleasing, and the computer animation comes across clean, if a bit on the soft side. Audio comes in a surprising 5.1 surround transfer, which is overkill for this kind of title, but most welcome. Not much going on in the rear channels, but during the race car sequences, things fill out nicely. French and Spanish 2.0 surround tracks are also included, as well as subtitles for English, French, and Spanish. The only extra is an interactive discovery mode, which lets you play through the "Big Race" episode with some interactive pop-ups for added learning.
You don't get a lot of value here for a DVD, but that's pretty much par for the course with Disney and these kind of releases. In a perverse way, you have to admire the brass of these guys, offering up a 48-minute DVD with almost as many minutes of trailers, previews, and advertisement. They're just lucky the target audiences of this DVD are in preschool and can't send them hate mail yet.
Handy Manny: Big Race is good-natured and harmless entertainment for kids, at best providing some early exposure to Spanish language. At worst, it might send some mixed signals about the pecking order of the Latino male in our society -- the handy man who fixes everything and never actually seems to get paid for it -- but maybe that's only if you grow up like this Judge into a right cynical jerk.
All joking aside, I'd let my kid watch it, which is pretty much the best compliment I can pay.
Un poco tonto, pero no culpable.
Review content copyright © 2010 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 48 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Discovery Mode
* Official Site