You have to hand it to whoever thought up the irresistible idea of Strawberry Shortcake decades ago: little scented dolls with names like Apple Dumpling, Angel Cake, Orange Blossom, and Gingersnap, who live in a candy-shaped world and have pets named Pupcake and Honey Pie Pony. Like retro favorites such as The Care Bears and My Little Pony, the franchise has experienced a resurgence in the past few years, as an entirely new generation of girls has discovered the now-updated brand.
Strawberry Shortcake: Cooking Up Fun follows the adventures of Strawberry Shortcake and her friends as they try to create a cooking show for television. Apple Dumpling, who is younger than the other girls, wants to help them cook, but she succeeds in making a mess and inadvertently undermining their efforts in the kitchen. When she falls asleep after being banished from the kitchen, she dreams she is grown and that the other girls are babies for whom she must provide care. Once the novelty of this wears off, however, the storyline drags a bit. Later on, Honey Pie the Pony suggests that the girls start a kitchen cooking show, and they follow suit.
Cooking tips are given as well, such as keeping hair tied back, having an adult present to supervise, washing fruits, vegetables, and hands to avoid germs, and being "berry careful" not to get burned by the oven or stove. These tips are quite useful, although they are delivered as a list of sorts, rather than interspersed throughout the story, so it is unclear whether or not young viewers will actually remember enough to heed the warnings. Some themes, such as hand washing, are repeatedly emphasized, which is a good thing indeed. The overall story, however, is quite choppy – it shifts from Apple Dumpling's dream to the cooking show with little transition.
Girls over the age of 10 will find this disc to be babyish, but it's suitable for younger girls, who will be able to relate to the themes of the often annoying interference of younger siblings and the wish to be more grown up in order to participate in activities. It is somewhat alarming, however, that with the problem of childhood obesity and the related health problems such a hot topic, that the stick-thin characters spend practically all of their time either conceiving of, baking, or eating sugary treats. So, realistic this is not.
There is absolutely nothing objectionable in terms of content; it is hard to argue with themes of friendship, safety, and cooperation. That said, with so little drama and few problems to solve, the entire mixture comes across as, shall I say, bland.
The super-bright and cheery world of Strawberry Shortcake and her friends will undoubtedly appeal to little girls. This colorful confection looks absolutely gorgeous in this full-screen presentation, making it hard to deny the visual appeal of this disc.
The sound, featuring an English language track in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, is quite good. English and Spanish subtitles are also available.
The only included on-disc extra is a music video for the Strawberry Shortcake cooking show. It's not much different than the movie, so it is doubtful that girls will want to view it more than once. They will likely be far more interested in the sheet of stickers that comes with the disc which features each of the major characters, as well as the mini-cookbook, which contains recipes for baked goods such as pumpkin pie and sugar cookies, as well as helpful kitchen hints. These little extras help to make up for the relatively short 45-minute run time of the disc.
Rewatchability on this one is hard to predict; rent it first to see if it's a keeper for the little girls in your life.