What can be more fun than an anthropomorphic blue bird puppet on a long road trip with whiny brats? Judge David Johnson asks. Um, bocce.
"Mommy! What is that scary blue thing?!"
For when you find yourself slowly slipping into the realm of insanity with a minivan-load of screaming preschoolers and Grandma's house is still nine hours away.
Facts of the Case
Are We There Yet? is an hour-long kids' program designed explicitly to be shown during long, torturous car trips. Starring a crazy avian puppet named Miles the Goose, the feature includes games and songs and super-fun learning segments. Miles will shuttle you along to each chunk of fun, aided by the Question Kids and Rebecca Frezza and the Big Truck Band.
Let me just get this out of the way. Your little kids will probably be amused by the adventures of Miles the Goose and the cornucopia of wacky diversions he has at his disposal. There's enough singing and puppetry and sensory overload to last at least until Schenectady. That being said, allow me to state for the record (court stenographer, please take note) that Are We There Yet? is one of the weirdest, creepiest kids' discs I've ever seen.
Please, before you immediately write it off and think it'll be no good for your kids, understand that I'm coming at this with a jaded adult's discerning eye. The kids should like it fine. As for you parents…well, be glad that you're sitting up front, facing forward.
The program opens up with Miles the Goose (who looks less like a goose and more like the bastard offspring of Sam the Eagle and a pom-pom) introducing himself and stating his purpose—that is, to entertain the snot out of your rotten kids so you can have a few moments' peace on the highway—in so many words. But you've got to love his entrance. From a child's point of view, sitting in the back seat of a van, we're looking up through the sun roof, when suddenly Miles appears out of nowhere, looking down and acting all crazy. It reminded me of the scene from Terminator 3 when Kristanna Loken is sawing through the hearse, trying to kill John Connor.
From that point on, it's full throttle with an all-out assault of fun. The ludicrously cheesy Rebecca Frezza and the Big Truck Band are on hand to wow you with their musical prowess and unforgettable renditions of such classics as "The Big Truck" and the title theme, "Are We There Yet?." The Question Kids pop up here and there to launch the educational portions of the show. These little tykes are pretty cute and funny, and add a much-needed human element to the proceedings (Rebecca Frezza is hands-down the most attractive kids' musician I've ever seen, but she comes off as a highly advanced automaton programmed for "perpetual glee").
In my opinion, the best parts of the disc are the games. These aren't highly complex bits of sport, mind you; we're talking about such high-powered competitive fare as "Rain Drop Race" (where the kids root for beads of water on their windows to dribble to the bottom first) and "Puffy Pictures" (spotting shapes in the clouds). Still, their inclusion is a great idea, and they should appeal to bored young kids or adults sucking down exhaust fumes from a leaky catalytic converter.
Lastly, Banyan Entertainment did well to include easy "jump-to" scenes for its songs and games on the bonus features. Some goofy bloopers are also on hand.
Miles makes my skin crawl, and I think that Big Truck Band was performing from the auditorium in Bellevue, but Are We There Yet? should effectively satisfy the squirmy little rugrats for a decent stretch—or at least until the next rest stop.
Miles is sentenced to the nearest refuge for Creepy-ass Wildlife, but this disc is released with the blessings of the court.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Banyan Entertainment
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