Case Number 17309: Small Claims Court

JONAS: ROCKIN' THE HOUSE

Disney // 2009 // 113 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // September 22nd, 2009

The Charge

You've been Jo Bro'd!

The Case

Before this disc turned up in my mailbox, I'd heard of the Jonas Brothers but knew little about them. I was aware that they were a boy band of brothers, that they all wore purity rings, and that they were part of Team Disney.

Having appeared in other Disney Channel productions, notably Hannah Montana and Camp Rock, the boys now get their own series, the aptly titled Jonas. Having premiered to respectable ratings in Spring 2009, Disney is now releasing a smattering of episodes as Jonas: Rockin' the House.

In Jonas, the Jonas Brothers dig deep into their personal thespian wells to play...the Jonas Brothers! Kevin, Joe, and Nick (don't ask me which is which) live with their parents in an old firehouse, and they all go to some kind of school where the girls wear plaid uniform skirts and the boys wear blazers with an emblem. I guess it's a high school, though it might be a college or some kind of private reformatory institution since 21-year-old Kevin and 16-year-old Nick both attend it. In the series as in real life, they are the famous Jonas Brothers, but despite their constant presence in real-life print and Internet tabloids, everybody here pretty much leaves them alone. They have wacky adventures involving things like finding the right birthday present for their mother and crushing on a pizza delivery girl.

And that's pretty much it. Disney seems to be counting on the boys' clean-cut good looks and geek-cool personas to put this one across, and fortunately for Disney, they pretty much do.

Unlike most other Disney shows -- Hannah Montana, for instance -- that use the conventional three-camera, shot with an audience (and laugh track) format and play out standard sitcom stories, Jonas is done with a single camera, no laugh track, and lots of editing. Rather than playing it sitcom straight, the episodes are filled with silly sight gags, word play, running jokes, and junior league absurdities. Jonas seems to take its inspiration from The Monkees, which, of course, took its inspiration from the Beatles movies A Hard Day's Night and Help!

Naturally, Jonas is less creative and adventurous than these well-regarded predecessors, its benign anarchy aimed squarely at the 'tween crowd. Still, it's goofy fun, and I can see it playing well with its audience. The brothers might not be great actors or comedians, but they're personable, appealing, and seem to be having a good time. Nothing here is to be taken seriously. In the set I received, there are no "very special" episodes or anything worthy of an afterthought. Like the Brothers' music, it's pleasant enough, even amusing, but you're probably not going to remember it after it's over. The brothers' real-world lifestyle -- no drinking, smoking, or partying of any kind, plus they are publicly virgins -- is reflected here, but without being preachy or moralistic. Subjects like sex and drinking just don't come up, meaning this is a safe bet for all ages.

Jonas is getting a typical Disney Channel roll out: single disc with a few episodes and a couple of throwaway bonuses. There are actually five episodes from the first season and two "world premiere" bonus episodes that I'm guessing will turn up on Season Two. Other than previews and ads, the only other extra is a segment in which the brothers prank co-star Chelsea Staub. Everything looks and sounds alright -- it should, since the program is a 2009 vintage. I guess this business of releasing seasons in pieces makes sense from a business perspective, though as a consumer, if I were a Jonas fan, I could see getting annoyed at the idea of getting only a few episodes at a clip. On the other hand, the disc has an allowance-friendly price of under $20, so it's not all bad news.

The Verdict

Silly, inoffensive, and slightly ironic, Jonas is Monkees-lite for the post-millennium crowd. It's not ground breaking, but it's a cut above the usual Disney Channel fare. Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2009 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Disney
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 113 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Prank Featurette

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1044418/combined

* Official Show Site
http://tv.disney.go.com/disneychannel/jonas/

* JonasBrothers.com
http://www.jonasbrothers.com/