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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Teens > Children > Drama > Literature > Shorts > Animation > Educational > Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure (2011/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD) + Summer Eleven (2010/Image DVD) + Tikki Tikki Tembo and more stories to celebrate Asian heritage (Scholastic Storybook Treasures/New Video DVD

Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure (2011/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD) + Summer Eleven (2010/Image DVD) + Tikki Tikki Tembo and more stories to celebrate Asian heritage (Scholastic Storybook Treasures/New Video DVD)


Picture: B- & C/C+/C+     Sound: B- & C+/C+/C+     Extras: C-     Main Programs: C-/C+/B-



When we discuss children’s programming, I hope it is not always junk or fluff.  One area we can quickly address in this respect is that a young ladies.  We will do that looking at the latest round of releases.


The glossy (or gaudy, depending on your take) Disney release of Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure on Blu-ray and DVD puts Ashley Tisdale as the title character (no dog is she, but she has brought one along just the same and the character is a spin-off from the High School Musical franchise) in another one of Disney’s mall-movie safe consumerist fantasies where humor, thinking you are royalty and a sudden amount of money means paradise on earth with only comical obstacles that can be easily overcome.  This is definitely fluff and a project many could rightly criticize sets up distorted expectations for young female viewers.


In fun and moderation, not taken seriously, it is passable and yet does not offer much more than any such release the studio (or any competing company) has issued lately.  When she meets a male filmmaker (Austin Butler hardly convincing as the next Spielberg or anything else), we get fake, silly romance.  But then this is a project that celebrates artifice as if it is a normal thing; as if the unnatural is natural and it never adds up to much.  This is a TV project and rare to see such a project get this kind of release.  It is also pretty boring except that it is interesting to see how poor it is at times and that it even exists.  Only young ladies unusually impressed with this will find it rewatchable, but can there be that many?


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray is an HD shoot that has some good color, but more motion blur and other detail issues than expected, which is even worse on the included anamorphically enhanced DVD with poor Video Black, less color range and an overall lame image.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix has a weak soundfield, is too much towards the front channels and is nothing to write home about, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes in foreign languages and English on the DVD are worse with even weaker audio.


Extras include an Austin Cam featurette and Bloopers on both format versions, while the Blu-ray also has The Evolution Of Sharpay featurette. Oh well…


Much better and more realistic, Joseph Kell’s Summer Eleven (2010) is a good if shorter than I would have liked drama/comedy about a group of pre-teen young ladies (11 years old) who share a summer together with some trial sand tribulations that are far from fluff.  One might be in a feature film, while another is homeless.  There is a mother’s new boyfriend who does not like her two daughters and a family whose son (one of the gal’s older brother) is serving in Iraq.  I expected more fluff, but was surprised how smart, interesting and intelligent this turned out to be, with only budget restrictions holding it back.  For the first time in years, an indie drama I wished was some kind of hit and maybe a possible pilot for a TV show.  Adam Arkin is the one name actor among a surprisingly good cast, with the child actors more naturalistic than expected.  This is more like what I would want a young lady to enjoy.


The 1.78 X 1 anamorphically enhanced image can be soft in places, but is not bad for a low-budget production, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 may be stretching out the stereo sound a little more than it should.  Except for a few spots, this is well recorded enough.  A trailer is the only extras.


Among the shorts in the very nice compilation  Tikki Tikki Tembo and more stories to celebrate Asian heritage (the latest in the strong Scholastic Storybook Treasures series) offers Lon Po Po, an interesting variant of Little Red Riding Hood that is far smarter than many of the dumb “adult” versions that make the female leads look airheaded.  It also is another example of a young lady in a drama being treated with respect and intelligence much like the audience it is aimed for; too rare for our own good these days.  Tikki Tikki Tembo is joined by The Stonecutter, Tale Of The Mandarin Ducks, Grandfather’s Journey and Sam & The Lucky Money.  This is a nice collection of literary tales children of all ages and backgrounds will enjoy and I was pleased to see some of these again after so many years.


The 1.33 X 1 image across the shorts have good color, but some can be a little soft in places, with some being softer than others.  They are fine for DVD and very watchable.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on each also fares well, though some of the older shorts may be slightly compressed and on the monophonic side.  Read-A-Long subtitles are the only extra.


So of these choices, I recommend the latter two and can say that boring as it is, at least Sharpay’s is not offensive or degrading intentionally.  It is just that too many such releases are more like it that the educational, smart choices.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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