"THE JUNGLE BOOK: 40TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION"
The film follows Mowgli, a child raised by wolves in the jungle of India. As he grows older, and as the great tiger Shere Khan returns, it is decided that Mowgli must return to the human village. The black panther Bagheera is put in charge of Mowgli’s return. However, along the way, they are distracted by many colorful character, including the relaxed bear Baloo and the mischievous orangutan King Louie.
In the 60s and 70s, the style of Disney animation changed, leading to a more rustic look that we associate with “The Jungle Book” and the early “Winnie the Pooh” shorts. While it appears less polished, it has a certain character that has been lost in these days of Flash animation and CGI. The roughness around the edges of “The Jungle Book” are part of what makes it such a classic. Even today, with its disjointed story, it’s a gem worthy of the “Disney classic” label.
Aside from one of the best voice casts ever assembled in a classic Disney film, “The Jungle Book” comes with some of the most memorable songs. While my favorite is “I Wanna Be Like You,” I still find myself joyfully humming “The Bear Necessities” each time I see it. On a personal note, while watching the film with my two young sons, it was delightful to see them burst into an impromptu dance routine for these two song selections.
The new double disc is also worthy of the Platinum Edition name, a special distinction for the Disney animated classics. The first disc contains the film with deleted songs, a modern music video, song selection and a spotlight on the lost character of Rocky the Rhino. Disc two comes with a 46-minute documentary about the making of the film, a featurette about how the film differed from Kipling’s work, art galleries, interactive games, Disney’s Junglepedia and spotlights on the animators and the boy who voiced Mowgli.
"CHILL OUT SCOOBY DOO"
This adventure takes the kids of Mystery, Inc. from their Paris vacation to the Himalayas, where they have a run-in with the Abominable Snowman. On their way, they stumble around Mount Everest, into Shangri-La and through ancient ruins.
Unlike the classic, yet rustic, cartoons of the 1970s, these new Scooby Doo mysteries have a slick look with crisp animation. However, the chemistry among the characters is still alive. The bulk of the action happens with Scooby Doo and Shaggy getting into scrapes and running from the monsters. A lot of the corniness is gone, but there’s still a few in-jokes for the adults who remember the original show.
This mystery offers a nice mix of supernatural phenomena and fantasy, which is a nice deviation from the old stories that taught us ghosts couldn’t exist but talking dogs could. “Chill Out Scooby Doo” follows the basic Scooby Doo formula, but puts the gang in a new setting at the top of the world.
As children’s videos go, “Chill Out Scooby Doo” is pretty watchable, mainly because of my love for the old television show. There’s enough story there that it doesn’t get boring, and the kids enjoy the antics of Scooby and Shaggy.
Included on the disc is the “Pirate’s Song” music video and a pretty slick interactive game that plays more like a real video game than most DVD set-top features.
"MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE: MICKEY’S TREAT"
This disc takes place in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse universe, a computer-generated world where Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie, Daisy and Pluto live. They get together in Mickey’s clubhouse each afternoon, as seen on Playhouse Disney.
This release of the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” series includes three episodes from the television show. One carries a Halloween theme (as Pete invites the gang to his place for a Halloween party), and the other two are regular episodes.
All episodes of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” are very gentle and friendly. There’s no real threat or danger, and they’re appropriate for even the youngest of ages. While the animation is crude and simple by Disney’s standards, they’re enjoyable to watch without being too tedious. The stories teach lessons about sharing and helping one another, and the young audience is always encouraged to interact with the characters on screen.
Included in the disc is a Halloween-themed episode of “Little Einsteins.” There’s also an online cookbook (with some recipes I’ll give a try this season) and a CD-ROM stencil set.
"HANDY MANNY: TOOLING AROUND"
“Handy Manny” is one of those shows that just gets on my nerves. I understand that it’s an excellent show that teaches safety, sharing and friendship to young viewers, but it’s just so sweet that I can’t take too much of it in one sitting.
However, fans of the show will enjoy “Handy Manny: Tooling Around,” new to DVD this fall. The story follows handyman Manny and his set of talking tools. When something in town needs fixed, people call on Manny to help. He’s good with his hands and his tools, and together they can find a solution.
“Handy Manny: Tooling Around” comes with five ten-minute episodes from the Playhouse Disney show. The only special feature included on the disc is the “Build It With Handy Manny” set-top game, which is actually more entertaining than the show itself (although the music did get on my nerves after a while).