Disney // 2009 // 58 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // April 9th, 2009
Good, Green Fun for Everyone
There's always something that needs repair in the town of Sheetrock Hills, and there's no better repairman than Handy Manny. Whenever something breaks, Manny and his gang of talking tools (a hammer, pliers, two screwdrivers, a tape measure, a hand saw, a flashlight, and a monkey wrench) go fix it. This DVD puts the spotlight on a small handful of Handy Manny's environmentally-themed projects. Each episode of the television program typically includes 2 11-minute story segments. This DVD offers four of those segments and one brand-new bonus segment, so essentially you're getting 2 ½ episodes of the show. The stories included are:
"Saving the Turtles": Manny and his tools need to build a new bike trail, but they have to find a way to do it without destroying a spot where a mother turtle comes to lay her eggs. Can they find a solution?
"Manny Goes Solar": A local shop owner wants to have a moving sign on the front of his building, but for some reason he can't find a source of electricity to power the sign. So, Manny and the tools install solar panels.
"Science Fair": It's time for the local science fair, but there's a problem. The air conditioning isn't working! It's up to Manny to cool things off so the science fair can proceed as planned.
"Light Work": An elderly woman's chandelier is in great danger of falling at any minute, and she needs Manny to repair it and make it safe again. Unfortunately, the lights are out and Manny's flashlight isn't working. Can he find a solution?
"Bloomin' Tools": Manny and the tools put together some indoor flower beds for one of their friends.
This very earnest little Playhouse Disney program provides harmless edutainment for kids, with an almost PBS-level emphasis on the "edu" part. A generous handful of lessons about environmental responsibility and friendship are presented in each little story. My only problem is that sometimes the program sets aside logic as an excuse to provide a lesson. Surely the creators of the program could have come up with a more convincing reason for Manny to install solar panels than the one presented in "Manny Goes Solar." Additionally, despite the show's desperate efforts to provide ethnic diversity at every turn, most of the characters are stereotypes. The Mexican guy is a construction worker, the Indian guy runs a convenience store, the white guy is a bumbling white-collar businessman, the Native American lady is a park ranger...you get the idea. To be fair, they do have a lady running the local hardware store, though she doesn't appear to know much of anything about hardware.
I also found it unusual that despite the wide array of ethnicities that appear in the program, kids are only taught new words in Spanish. Still, one language is better than none, right? The language lessons are presented a little less obviously here than in Dora the Explorer. Spanish words are thrown in all the time in conversation, usually by someone saying the same thing twice. An example: "The solar panels are powered by el sol, the sun!" Little musical numbers incorporating a similar combination of English and Spanish appear throughout the program.
The transfer is more or less flawless, though the very simplistic CGI animation (designed to look much more like standard 2-D animation than usual) hardly demands a knockout transfer. That said, colors here are nice and bright, blacks are deep, and there are no flaws of any sort. The stereo sound is perfectly adequate, and surprisingly pleasant. Most of the voice work and music here is far less likely to grate on the nerves of adults within range of the television than many shows of this sort. Extras include an interactive game called "Livin' La Vida Verde" (kids spot things that need to be recycled and click them) and some printable tips on being green.
Though the disc could have been a bit longer, Handy Manny: Manny's Green Team is acceptable viewing for very young kiddies.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 58 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Green Checklist
* Interactive Game