From his lofty perch, hanging over the slopes of Kilimanjaro under a parasail with razor sharp rocks below, Judge Bryan Pope gives this DVD a thumbs up.
Take sports to the extreme!
As a youngster, the closest this judge ever came to extreme sports was a game of Frisbee golf that got entirely out of hand. So you can imagine how unprepared I was for the feats of derring-do that Popular Mechanics for Kids: X-treme Sports & Other Action Adventures had in store. Continuing their quest to show "the science behind all the fun," PMK's fearless foursome (Elisha Cuthbert, Jay Baruchel, Tyler Kyte and Vanessa Lengies) zigzag throughout North America engaging in any sport that carries a high probability of resulting in broken legs and cracked skulls. Call me a fuddy duddy, but watching this from the comfort and safety of my couch is as adventurous as I want to get.
Like the other titles in PMK's highly entertaining DVD series, X-treme Sports & Other Action Adventures contains four half-hour episodes from the popular Discovery Channel show. This disc includes:
• "Sports": Jay visits Nike headquarters to find out what goes into creating the perfect basketball shoe, and then he shoots hoops with Damon Stoudamire of the Toronto Raptors. Later, Montreal Expos' Pedro Martinez gives Jay some pointers on pitching and helps him prepare for the opening pitch at an Expos baseball game. Meanwhile, Elisha and Tyler try their hands at competitive skateboarding before hopping on their mountain bikes and joining three-time women's Cross-Country World Champion Allison Sydor on a trail ride. PMK expert (at what, I'm not sure) Charlie Powell demonstrates how to clean in-line skates so the wheels will spin smoothly.
• "X-Treme Rides": Tyler braves "road rash" while approaching speeds of 65 miles per hour on a downhill street luge, then goes for a ride on a high-flying powered parachute. Vanessa tries to tame the wild wind as she learns how to kite ski. Charlie, clad in his worst Tarzan getup, teaches kids how to make a zipline in their own backyard.
• "Sports: Riding, Gliding & Sliding": Elisha hangs ten with a surfing expert and becomes a hockey goalie for the Montreal Canadians, while Tyler hits the slopes with a team of Olympic snowboarders. Charlie gets some pointers on proper running technique.
• "Fun in the Desert": The gang flies to Arizona, where Vanessa finds a rattler and a boa during a nighttime snake hunt before hitting the dunes for some sandboarding. Tyler kicks into high gear when he goes road racing, desert style. Charlie teaches kids how to produce enough water to survive in the desert using only a water bottle, a large piece of clear plastic and a small stone. Thankfully, it does not involve recycling urine.
X-treme Sports & Other Action Adventures is jam-packed with footage of its young hosts doing way cool stuff, but it also has so much more to offer. Aided by simple but colorful graphics, these episodes answer questions that have more than likely crossed the minds of most elementary school-aged children. To wit: What creates a wave? How about a sand dune? What is a mirage? And I applaud any learning program that goes so far as to address even the ickiest questions, such as why feet stink. Hey, sports are exciting, but they're not always pretty.
Inquisitive and fun, PMK strikes a balance between smart and silly (although goofball Charlie, the sole adult among the cast, comes close to overstaying his welcome). It's no wonder PMK garnered multiple broadcasting awards during its run, including the National Educational Media Network's Silver Apple Award and the Bronze Plaque from the Columbus International Film and Video Festival for Excellence in Children's Programming. Those are impressive credentials, but for the best indicator of PMK's quality and appeal, consider this: my son has watched this title no fewer than half a dozen times as of this writing, and he has since explained to me why people sweat (covered in "Riding, Gliding & Sliding"). Also, Gators & Dragons (another title in the PMK series) has become the most-circulated title from my DVD collection, at least among my friends and coworkers who have young kids. Unless I miss my guess, X-treme Sports & Other Action Adventures will soon join it.
Popular Mechanics for Kids: X-treme Sports & Other Action Adventures is presented in its original full-screen format with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. The package does not include subtitles or extras.
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