Handy Manny: Manny's Pet Roundup:
Manny's a dangerous cat, so it's appropriate that Disney should package a group of pet-themed episodes for this DVD release. Why is Manny so dangerous? Well, it's not really him, it's his theme song and his work songs. All I need do these days is look at or think about anything Handy Manny related and one of those songs gets stuck in my head for hours. That's a good thing if you're a preschooler learning about music, but not so good for adults. But is this DVD a good thing? Por supuesto! (Of course!)
Handy Manny is an Hispanic handyman with a cute toolbox full of seven delightful herramientas (tools) that not only help him on his daily rounds, they keep him company! "You break it, we fix it," Handy says when he answers a call. More often than not the broken thing is minor - a doorbell or latch on a rabbit cage, for instance - and if Handy doesn't know how to fix it, one of his tools does! Candy Store owner Mr. Lopart is always hanging around providing comic relief, while Kelly (the hardware store owner) always has the part the Handy needs. I think Handy has a 'thing' for Kelly, if you get my drift, and I suspect the feeling is mutual, but we may never know.
In this collection we get seven eleven-minute episodes, almost all about pets or little animals, but first there's the epic bonus episode in which Handy and crew help Mr. Lopart's nephews Lyle and Leland build a soapbox racer that won't kill them. (Mr. Lopart is the exact opposite of Handy, where building and fixing is concerned.) After that we have episodes that, among other things, see the crew help keep chicks warm in a Pet Store during a blackout, the tools watch after a cute stray kitty, and everyone goes mano-a-paw-no with a mischievous gopher.
The list of episodes is as follows:
Lyle And Leland Lopart
Blackout On The Block
Squeeze Makes A Promise
Renaldo's Pretzel Castle
Handy Manny is relatively harmless fun, with seriously soft-pedaled messages about being brave and listening to each other mostly. The tools are the true protagonists - taking the place of toddlers watching the show. My daughter and I have a current totem-tool, Rusty the pipe wrench - a tool that is scared of everything. I find it odd, since Rusty is there to teach preschoolers to be adventurous and not afraid - maybe my two-year-old is too young for this, but when Rusty goes into a dark closet and gets nervous, it seriously rattles my girl (she clutches at my legs in fear while averting her gaze). I'm not sure, but I think Rusty is actually teaching her to be afraid of the dark, instead of the other way around. Of course four-year-olds will have an entirely different experience, but hey, Handy, we love you! Don't scare my kid.
Otherwise, Handy and tools teach un poquito de Espanol (a little bit of Spanish) by tossing out words and phrases in the native tongue, then repeating them in English, and everyone has a mild good time. Wilmer Valderrama's ultra-low-key voice-work for Handy is really starting to grow on me (even as Handy's weird mechanical dog Fix-It is starting to disturb me). And the animation is painfully cute - check out those slow, round bunnies and kitties! Handy Manny doesn't reach the educational-fun heights of some of our other favorites (Bob The Builder and Little Einsteins, for instance) but as a low-impact viewing choice for brief down time, he's excellente.
I've found many people read my Handy Manny reviews wanting to find lyrics to his songs. The actual theme song is just voices repeating Handy's name over and over, but the other Handy Manny lyrics go a little something like this:
Let's Get To Work
"Hop up, jump in - come on let's go!
Hop up, jump in - si vamanos
Hop up, jump in - don't move too slow (keep up!)
Let's get to work, muy rapido!"
We Work Together
"Let's get going and fix it right
Twist and turn, make it tight
we work together now
Cut it, measure it, tap it flat
Bend and twist, just like that
Each of us has a special job
We work together - todos juntos
We can fix it right!"
Presented in its broadcast fullscreen ratio of 1.33:1, Handy Manny washes the screen in cheery, super-bright pastels and highly appealing 3D-esque CG animations. The image is, of course, perfectly clear and sharp, but edge-enhancement makes an 'admirable' showing (it's prominent) - perhaps due to Handy's humble TV origins . No other compression artifacts or visual problems of any kind appear.
Dolby Digital Stereo Sound is super-crisp, with all dialog mixed up front and easy to discern, while background music and song accompaniment never gets in the way of the words. Sound design and stereo separation are pretty unremarkable, as would be expected for a kids' show.
Spanish Language Audio, English Subtitles, Sneak Peeks for other Disney Kid's DVDs, and Game Time - The A-Maze-Ing Pet Roundup are the extras. Game Time lets your wee ones commandeer the DVD remote, and help various animals through five mind-bendingly simple mazes. I think even a three-year-old would find this stultifying after one or two mazes completed, and wander off bored to tears.
OK, except for Rusty scaring my daughter, and Handy's songs getting stuck in my head, I really like the show. It's not a heavy-hitter as far as life lessons go, but is super pleasant, and with this collection seems to be getting sillier, (a good thing) so most preschoolers (and a little younger) should find watching an episode or two a great way to pass 22 minutes while their caretaker checks his email. Plus, I think the suits have been listening to me, since I've complained previously about not enough material on these releases. So now the most recent batch I've reviewed had around 90 minutes of goods per DVD! Way to go, everybody - especially Handy and the tools. I say Manny's Pet Roundup is Recommended.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com