Okay, we all make mistakes from time to time, and for me, wanting to watch this disc is one of those mistakes. You see, it's like this: I'm old enough to remember the film Song of the South, a Walt Disney classic from 1946 that has long since disappeared into the vaults. Even though Song of the South is no considered in any way, shape or form a politically correct film – hence it's disappearance from the public eye – I was always a big fan of Uncle Remus, the happy-go-lucky emancipated slave who spun tall tales of mischievous forest creatures with human personalities. So even though I knew this updated version of Uncle Remus' fables would not have the same politically incorrect, syrupy-sweet Disney-fied look at the post slavery-era South, I was hoping for something that would get me upset and have me on the phone with my friends. "I was just watching that new The Adventures of Brer Rabbit, and you'll never guess what I just saw…!"
Sadly, that was not to happen. Instead of digging up some juicy bit of bordering-on-offensive animation that's good for a laugh amongst friends who actually enjoy having their sensibilities shocked, I was subjected to something no adult should ever have to endure. I was forced to watch an animated children's film meant for children. Now, in case some of you don't know exactly what I mean, it's like this: some animation for children is also meant to be enjoyed by adults. Think of classic Looney Tunes, or most of the Pixar catalog. And then there's that crap adults get stuck watching because they didn't practice birth control. These are the sort of children's videos that no rational, thinking adult is ever going to simply watch for entertainment sake. These are the sort of videos that children watch hundreds and hundreds of times, over and over and again, driving their parents and guardians to the brink of madness.
The Adventures of Brer Rabbit is not the worst of the children's videos out there. It will drive you crazy, but it is innocuous enough – and in some odd way entertaining enough – that it will hold up to repeated viewing (which is what these sort of videos are all about). Based on the book Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales as Told by Julius Lester, this direct-to-video release puts a modern spin on the old Uncle Remus tales. Uncle Remus, for those of you that don't know, was a fictional character created by Atlanta journalist Joe Harris in the 1870s. Harris wrote several collections of stories that were steeped in contemporary black culture, while at the same time drawing from a mix of African and African-American folklore. These tales most often revolved around Brer Rabbit, a classic trickster character who was always getting in and out of trouble.
The Adventures of Brer Rabbit updates many of the classic Uncle Remus folktales that cover everything from how animals came to Earth, to how Brer Rabbit tricked Brer Bear into guard a peanut patch. Of course, everything has been given a serious polish, so as not to be considered offensive or racist, while at the same time the voice work by the likes of Nick Cannon, D. L. Hughley and Wanda Sykes keeps everything rooted within the black culture from which these tales were first spawned.
The Adventures of Brer Rabbit is presented in full fame 1.33:1. The picture quality is good, even though the animation is not spectacular. Older children and those used to higher end 2-D animation may not be too impressed.
The Adventures of Brer Rabbit is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.
There are two interactive games on The Adventures of Brer Rabbit, but I could bring myself to check them out.
Kids between the ages of about four and seven are most likely the best audiences for this disc. Although it is one film, it is broken down into shorter stories, so younger kids can watch is small doses. Kids over the age of seven or eight will probably get bored, and find things a bit too cute. Adults will just have to suffer through it all – unless you don't have kids at all, in which case there's no reason to watch this.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]