Warner Bros. // 1994 // 119 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Lacey Worrell (Retired) // January 12th, 2005
Put the pedal to the metal!
Real Wheels: High Speed Adventures is a high-energy DVD for kids containing three episodes of the Real Wheels television show that has aired on various public television stations since the mid-1990s. Each episode is hosted by Dave Hood and Becky Borg, who have a series of adventures that depend on the topic the episode addresses. The episodes included on this DVD are as follows:
*"There Goes a Race Car"
Race Car Driver Dave and Race Car Driver Becky arrive in the desert by helicopter to experience off-road racing with a championship truck from the Baja 1000 race, then Dave demonstrates the inner workings of the truck. The hosts then travel to the Tucson Raceway to learn about NASCAR racing, from transport to the finish line, with a special emphasis on the job of the pit crew. They also visit the Skip Barber School, where Tom Cruise trained for his role in Days of Thunder.
*"There Goes a Motorcycle"
Biker Dave and Biker Becky visit a California motorcycle dealership to outfit themselves in the latest motorcycle fashion and to choose a bike to ride down the highway. They travel to the Honda Rider Education Center to learn about the parts of a motorcycle, then it's off to the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles to study the history of the motorcycle. Finally, there is a discussion of how motorcycles help the police to do their job.
*"There Goes a Spaceship"
Astronaut Dave and Astronaut Becky tour the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to learn about the history of space flight, from the first chimpanzees sent into space to the modern age of the space shuttle. An explanation of the different components of a space suit is provided, as well as the complications of living in an environment with no gravity. Dave comes perilously close to demonstrating exactly how one relieves oneself in space, and he and Becky have the opportunity to participate in training simulators.
Kids will likely be fascinated by Dave and Becky's adventures, because both hosts display a great deal of enthusiasm and energy for the topic at hand. They are not passive observers; they fully immerse themselves in learning how to safely drive race cars, practice good motorcycle safety, and conduct basic simulations of life in space. There are many positive things emphasized throughout each segment, such as reminders to the viewers to visit the library to learn more about a given topic. Another strength of this DVD is the writing: Dave and Becky explain highly technical concepts of physics in an easy-to-understand manner that just may pique kids' interest in the fun, rather than the laborious, side of basic scientific principles. For example, in "There Goes a Spaceship," Dave explains centrifugal force so clearly and completely that I found myself wishing he had been my eighth-grade science teacher.
Given the positive aspects of this series and the admonishments to stay in school and off drugs, it was rather shocking at the end of "There Goes a Motorcycle" to see Becky and Dave accept a ride from a stranger when their motorcycle breaks down by the side of the road. There is so much care and attention given to sending solid messages to kids, it is surprising to see that this glaring exception was overlooked. Also, in the opening segment of "There Goes a Racecar," there are far too many plugs made for Toyota. Another negative in this series is the tendency for some of the segments to devolve into slapstick. Typically, Dave acts silly and Becky has to rescue him. The two of them often digress into scripted arguments and corny jokes, and while young children will probably find it funny, adults may find themselves inwardly groaning at the forced hilarity.
The special features are quite nice and add to the overall experience. Dave tours the country on a "Real Wheels Live" tour, and this DVD contains a 10-minute excerpt from the stage show. Surprisingly, this featurette is entertaining and manages to avoid feeling like an overblown commercial for the stage show. The interactive glossary is helpful in defining some of the more technical terms used in the various segments, and the episode-specific blooper reel is worth a look as well. Dave and Becky come across as genuinely nice people who can laugh at themselves and who are committed to providing quality programming for kids. Another feature worth noting is that it is possible to access the main menu almost immediately upon turning on the DVD, which is a rarity in preview-laden children's entertainment, and an especially welcome one for impatient little viewers. The overall quality in terms of video and audio is excellent; the colors are bright and crisp, and the sound effects, such as revving race car and motorcycle engines, are also very good.
This Parents' Choice award–winning series is recommended for ages 3-8, which, judging by the presentation, is an appropriate recommendation. That said, older brothers and sisters may not mind watching the wide variety of vehicles and adventures showcased on the DVD.
Thanks to the solid writing, intriguing subject matter, and professional hosts, Real Wheels: High Speed Adventures is a solid investment for your kids' DVD collection. Kids will most likely be riveted to the screen, making repeated viewings almost a guarantee.
Review content copyright © 2005 Lacey Worrell; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Real Wheels Live with Dave
* Bloopers with Dave
* What's That? (Video Glossary)
* Video Preview
* Official Site