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Strawberry Shortcake: World of Friends

Fox // Unrated // February 7, 2006
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Cornelius | posted February 15, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The problem with asking me to review the new "Strawberry Shortcake: World of Friends" is that I am a thirty two-year-old man. Obviously, I'm slightly outside the target audience. But then, I have a five-year-old daughter, and if I can survive frequent repeat viewings of "My Little Pony" and "Care Bears," then gosh darn it, "Strawberry Shortcake" should be a walk in the park.

As it turns out, it's not all that bad, considering. For starters, this is not the dreadful 1980s cartoon, but an all-new series with surprisingly solid animation and voice work. Sure, the writing is basic cartoon fluff, easy to tune out when necessary, but considering how cheaply a project like this could have been thrown together ("Just whip something up to sell more dolls, pronto!"), there's actually a refreshing bit of quality on display here. My daughter and I have not seen any of the other recent "Strawberry Shortcake" video releases, but judging from "World of Friends," perhaps I won't shy away from the rest of this series.

Which is not to say "World of Friends" is noteworthy storytelling; it's about as simple as you'll find in modern cartooning. The feature contains two episodes of the new "Strawberry Shortcake" TV series edited together, clumsily enough for adults to notice but not so much that the kids will. The stories, which left me with the same kind of glazed-over apathy that no doubt struck my folks when they would watch my favorite shows with me way back when, have something to do with Strawberry Shortcake traveling the world and meeting new friends - and it's always great to meet new friends.

(The overprotective parent in me got itchy at the beginning of this story, as it seemed a bit irresponsible to tell young children that strangers are just friends you haven't gotten to know. I calmed down once I realized the writers were handling the idea with acceptable caution. It's not a story about strangers, but about overcoming a reluctance to befriend kids who might be different than you. You know, a good message for the young ones.)

There's some side stuff about a puppy who goes missing or whatever, and someone makes a big mess while trying to bake something, and the characters sing a few bouncy tunes, and that's about it. Not enough to wow any grown-ups in the room, but plenty to captivate any young ladies. It had my daughter hooked for the entire program, and then some: ever since watching it, she's been talking about friendship and helping others and all sorts of positive ideas. For that, I will never complain about sitting through 44 minutes of overwhelmingly girly storytelling.

The DVD

I find it sad that Fox felt it necessary to kick off this disc with their "You Wouldn't Steal a Car…" anti-piracy PSA. What better way to win kids over than to accuse them of video piracy before they've had a chance to sit down. Does Fox think there are kindergarteners out there lurking the bit torrent sites?

(We also get the requisite compilation trailer for other Fox family releases. Fortunately, all of this is skippable.)

It should also be noted that true to the Strawberry Shortcake tradition of making every doll smell like fruit, the DVD case is scented like candy strawberries. Girls will probably find this adorable. Parents will probably be wondering "where's that smell coming from this time?"

Video

The image (presented here in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio) is bright and crisp, beautifully capturing the details of the animation. Again, perhaps this is because I was expecting the older, lousy cartoon, but I'm still pleasantly surprised by how clean and vibrant this series looks.

Audio

The soundtrack is a simple 2.0 Dolby Stereo, clear without any fancy upgrading. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are available.

Extras

The "Picture Pals Game" is a simple, quick activity in which kids must figure out which character is being described. Good for young viewers, and a nice way of learning how to work the remote control. Strawberry's encouragement throughout is a nice touch.

The "Berry Special Places Tour" takes us on a brief (just over two minutes) animated visit around the Friendship Clubhouse. Nothing thrilling, although young fans might get a kick out of it.

Rounding out the extras is an annoying commercial for the new line of Strawberry Shortcake dolls that's sneakily contained here under the label "Strawberry Shortcake: Whole New World trailer." Shame on you, crummy advertising!

Final Thoughts

If you've made it this far, chances are you're a parent who's looking into this series for your kid(s). It is for you, mom and/or dad, that I give this video a Recommended rating. Its running time is short but not too short, and the low price makes the inescapable repeat viewings worth it. You might not be too keen on it, but your daughters will surely enjoy themselves.
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