Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

School House Rock! (Special 30th Anniversary Edition)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Starring:
Jamie Aff as Scooter Computer (voice)
Lynn Ahrens (voice)
Joshie Armstead (voice)
Mary Sue Berry (voice)
Blossom Dearie (voice)
Bob Dorough (voice)
Bob Kaliban as Mr. Chips (voice)
Christine Langner (voice)
Lori Lieberman (voice)
Sue Manchester (voice)
Essra Mohawk (voice)
Zachary Sanders (voice)
Jack Sheldon (voice)
Maretha Stewart (voice)
Grady Tate (voice)

Special Features:
Disc 1:
The Original 46 Animated Songs
All-New Song, "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote To College"
Play-All Feature
Shuffle-All Feature
Rockin' Top 10 Jukebox

Disc 2:
The Long-Lost Song, "The Weather Show"
Never-Before-Released On Video, "Scooter Computer And Mr. Chips" 3-Song Set
Behind the Scenes Footage
Top 20 Countdown
"Earn Your Diploma" Trivia Game
Arrange-A-Song Puzzle
4 Music Videos By Contemporary Artists
Emmy Awards Featurette
Nike Commercial Of "Three Is A Magic Number"
Audio Commentaries
5.1 DTS Of All-New Song "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote To College"

Other Info:
1.33:1 Full Frame
Running Time: 283 Mins.
Dolby Digital
Captions Subtitles

Synopsis:
Back in the 70's and 80's, ABC would run short musical "School House Rock!" features between Saturday morning cartoons. Featuring topics such as grammar, science, math, money, and America, the shorts would present the subjects to kids in snappy and memorable 3-minute songs and cartoons. For example, one of the most memorable was a song about conjunctions featuring trains and a song called "Conjunction Junction". Another explained the process of a bill becoming a law. The short, simple lessons helped children get interested in and memorize these otherwise bland topics.

Now the kids that grew up on these cartoons have are adults and still remember the lessons School House Rock taught. This DVD offers up a bit of nostalgia for those adults as well as educational entertainment for a new generation of kids to watch and enjoy.

The Movie:
Like many children of the 70's and 80's, I also grew up watching School House Rock. While watching this DVD with my kids, I was amazed at how many of the cartoons I still remembered. I was also amazed at how clearly they explained some of these otherwise complicated subjects. This DVD collects all 46 of the songs in one place. It's a great little bit of nostalgia for adults. My child also watched the DVD with interest and I'm sure they'll come in handy for explaining some topics when she starts school.

While the animation now looks somewhat dated, the lessons are timeless. Principles of electricity, interjections, nouns, and American Independence don't really change over 30 years. This DVD features some of my old favorites like "Conjunction Junction", "Electricity, Electricity", and "Interjections!". The newest one explaining the Electoral College is also presented in DTS format which is a nice touch. As an added bonus, the cover inside the DVD features the lyrics to the top 10 favorite songs as well as the newest one, "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote To College".

Overall this is a disc that kids and adults will enjoy. You may not be keen to sit down and watch all 46 at once, but it's nice to have them on hand.

The Extras:
For a 30th Anniversary DVD, this one comes through on the extras and special features. On Disc 1, you can access all of the cartoons and even select the order you want to play the top ten in. It's cool because you can just select them and play them in the order you want without having to jump back to the menu every 3 minutes.

Disc 2 is where the bulk of the extras are. A fun and somewhat dated feature is the "Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips" cartoons. Created by the makers of School House Rock, they explained the basic principles of computers in the 80's. One cartoon explains the BASIC programming language. Another shows how computer hardware and ancient floppy discs work. While now rather dated, they are still fun to watch and an admirable work by the "School House Rocks!" creators.

Another featurette shows the making of the "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote To College" cartoon. This is one of the most interesting of the extras. It shows all the faces behind the cartoons including the singers, writers, animators, and musicians. Even if you weren't particularly fond of these cartoons, the story behind their creation is rather interesting. You get a real sense of how this was a labor of love for them.

Besides some games, commentary, and other features, there are four music videos with "School House Rocks!" songs re-recorded by contemporary artists like Lemonheads and Better Than Ezra. I believe that they are from a CD released a few years ago, but they still make fun little videos.

The Bottom Line:
"School House Rock! Special 30th Anniversary Edition" is a fun piece of nostalgia for adults and their children. Many of the lessons that the cartoons teach are still useful today.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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