Judge Jeff Robbins hasn't seen so many bunnies since he was thrown out of the Playboy Club for heckling The Smothers Brothers.
Our reviews of Max And Ruby: Bunnytales (published February 6th, 2011), Max And Ruby: Rainy Day Play (published May 8th, 2011), Max And Ruby's Christmas (published November 2nd, 2004), Max And Ruby's Halloween (published September 14th, 2005), Max And Ruby: Springtime For Max And Ruby (published April 18th, 2005), and Max And Ruby: A Visit With Grandma (published June 15th, 2010) are also available.
"Whew! That's a relief!"—Carny, upon finally ridding himself of the annoyingly self-absorbed Ruby.
Despite featuring one impossibly unpleasant character at its core, Max & Ruby: Everybunny Loves Winter features twelve (mostly) sweet and entertaining simplistically-animated stories from the Nickelodeon program that are sure to delight their intended preschool audience. And, as the episodes are free of many of the traps of modern preschool shows—such as annoyingly simplistic songs or cheap attempts at interactivity—older siblings and parents are likely to welcome Max & Ruby into their homes as well. Or at least Max.
Facts of the Case
Initially created by Rosemary Wells for a series of children's books, the three-year-old Max and the seven-year-old Ruby are bunny (Everybunny loves winter, get it?) siblings whose parents have either died or abandoned them—think Party of Five with rabbits but without the melodrama (or unbelievably good-looking cast). Max is a charming, curious, imaginative bunny whose speech is usually limited to one particular word per episode, a trait that typically leads to misunderstandings central to the plot. Ruby is his loving but thoroughly dominating sister, who is often shown the error of her myopic ways by their wise old Grandma.
In the annals of preschool television, there have been few characters as unlikable as Ruby. Even Dora the Explorer's Swiper the Fox and Pete from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse come across as just misunderstood outsiders who are understandably jealous of the tight bonds and lucrative merchandising deals of their program's main characters.
But Ruby is nearly hopeless. Despite the love she receives from her little brother Max, the adulation given to her by friends Louise and Valerie, and the obviously strong adult female role model she has in Grandma, Ruby is demanding, selfish, narcissistic, hurtful, and bossy beyond belief.
So how does Max & Ruby: Everybunny Loves Winter still manage to be sweet, funny, and highly enjoyable? Because not only is it nearly impossible not to be charmed by the adorable, speech-challenged Max, but it is also a fist-pumping delight when Ruby does indeed get her badly-needed comeuppance, as she does in nearly every episode.
For the uninitiated, Max & Ruby stories (like many shows aimed at the very young), tend to feature repetitive elements. The simplified formula here is that Max wants one thing, Ruby wants another, Ruby attempts to force her will, and Ruby's stubborn thinking is shown to be foolish.
Since the stories are often similarly constructed, it's no surprise the quality of the outings doesn't vary too much. Therefore there aren't many complaints about the 12 tales included in Everybunny Loves Winter, but one could nitpick at the fact that, despite the DVD's title, only half of the stories actually take place in winter, with others being specific to fall or much warmer weather. But the preschoolers targeted by this release aren't likely to care, and neither should the adults buying it.
The first trifecta of episodes covers most of the variations in the Max & Ruby formula. In "Ruby's Snowbunny," Ruby refuses to let Max sled with his friend Roger until Max helps her build an overly-detailed snowbunny. (Any viewer not made of steel and glass will likely be agitated that Ruby won't let Max sled down the hill even once.) When the completed bunny almost gets destroyed by a wayward sled, Max swoops in to save the day.
In "Ruby's Snowflake," Max inadvertently ruins Ruby's plan to make three "exactly alike" snowflake cookies, but is redeemed by Grandma, who arrives to let Ruby know that since any moron knows that no two actual snowflakes are alike, neither should any snowflake cookies be exactly alike.
And in "Duck Duck Goose," Ruby and her fellow insufferable "bunny scout" troop members Valerie and Louise do their best to cruelly shun Max in order to complete their bird watching project, only to be surprised when Max helps them finish the assignment they were too daft to complete on their own.
If any Max & Ruby characters could be even more unpleasant than Ruby, it's the sycophantic Valerie and Louise, who greet every simple act and idea of Ruby's with so much awe and praise, you'd think Ruby was magically curing Intestinal Coccidiosis (hey, it's a disease that affects bunnies, I looked it up) with every wave of her paw.
Elsewhere, "Max's Big Kick," pays homage to "Peanuts," complete with a score reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy," and "Ruby's Big Win" succeeds as the most entertaining of the shorts here, as Max triumphantly and repeatedly wins at carnival games while also inadvertently helping the long-suffering Ruby get her first (and only) win. Conversely, "Max Says Goodbye" is the weakest here, as the too-simple-for-even-preschool-age storyline just involves Max preparing to leave the house by saying goodbye to his toys.
But "Max Says Goodbye" is the exception, as the twelve stories on Max and Ruby: Everybunny Loves Winter are largely sweet without being sickly, humorous without being stupid or gross, and, without being heavy-handed, highlight the positive attributes of Max's generosity over the less-endearing selfishness of Ruby.
The 12 stories on Everybunny Loves Winter are presented as four episodes with three stories each. All are in full screen format befitting their original television exhibition. There are no bonus features apart from trailers for several other Nickelodeon DVDs, which play automatically when the disc is inserted and can also be accessed via the disc's "Previews" menu.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
In Ruby's defense, it can't be easy to be the single parent to a precocious three-year-old, particularly when you've just completed first grade. And Ruby's character isn't all bad; in "Max's Balloon Buddies," she repeatedly foregoes her desire to see a carnival's "flower festival" after her brother's balloon animals meet one untimely demise after another.
Despite its misleading title, Max & Ruby: Everybunny Loves Winter is an easy recommendation for parents looking for something they can watch with their little ones without wanting to tear out their hare. (You see what I did there?)
Max and Grandma are absolved of all charges. Ruby is sentenced to undergo intensive psychoanalysis.
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