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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Jay Jay the Jet Plane (1999)

"We're gonna get there when we get there / And have a great time when we do / But half the fun of gettin' where we're goin' / is goin' there with you."
- Jay Jay the Jet Plane, Tuffy the Tow Truck

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: February 11, 2002

Stars: Eve Whittle, Dee Dee Green, Marie Danielle, Julie Renick, C. W. Walken
Other Stars: Jennifer Delora, Donna Erickson, Michael Jeffries, Jake Strongbear
Director: Hugh Martin

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h: 03m: 53s
Release Date: February 05, 2002
UPC: 043396076006
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ CCC+ C+

DVD Review

When it's pledge time at the local PBS affiliate, I often find myself wondering about the wisdom of funding John Tesh at Red Rocks, or the Three Tenors, or even Sesame Street, given the money that must come in hand over fist from lunch boxes and t-shirts and video games. (I know that as a daddy I hand over more than my share.) And it's with a rather queasy feeling that I watched Jay Jay the Jet Plane, apparently a staple of PBS Kids. Its heart is frequently in the right place, but I wonder about a number of elements here. (Big thumbs down, too, from the in-house critic, my five-year-old son. Jay Jay bores him.) Jay Jay the Jet Plane follows the travails of Jay Jay and a few of his colleagues in transportation. They're a smiley, happy bunch, clearly modeled on Thomas The Tank Engine and his friends, and the animation in Jay Jay is all computer generated, intercut with some live-action footage of one or two human beings in each story. The people seem superfluous, but the song in each story doesn't, and provides a hummable little highlight each time around. This disc contains five of Jay Jay's adventures, each running twelve minutes or so. If you're uninitiated in the ways of Jay Jay, you may be lost early on, as we start right in the middle of things, with a dream sequence. A Trip to Skylandia features Jay Jay wondering about far-off lands, and the possibilities of life beyond our sky and clouds. Jay Jay's Butterfly Adventure features the little plane buddying up with Breezy the Butterfly, and Jay Jay and the audience get a lesson on metamorphosis. Jay Jay is grounded by bad weather in the next episode, Jay Jay and the Magic Books, but he learns about the wonders of reading from his best friend Snuffy (also an airplane) and the local librarian. And now let us consider Tuffy the Tow Truck, who appears only in the final two stories here. Given her buck teeth, her almond-shaped eyes, the decidedly yellow tint to her skin and her poor articulation ("Dese twees aw bwocking da woad!"), it's hard not to think of grotesque caricatures of Asians from an earlier era. Not to be too politically correct, but these walk the line way too close to nasty stereotypes. (Do the animators hide behind the refuge of cuteness? If so, it's that much more disgusting.) And Tuffy takes over toward the end of the disc—she's on an insane quest to get to Pangabula Island (or, as she says, "Pangaboowa Iwand") in the fourth installment, Tuffy's Trip to Pangabula, seeming like no one so much as Lennie from Of Mice and Men talking about his rabbits. Tuffy hitches a ride on a boat with a first mate, Mr. Crabby (played by Michael Jeffries) whose spastic behavior is, I imagine, intended to be funny, but who writhes almost as if he has Tourette's syndrome. Hilarious! The fifth and final chapter, Tuffy's Adventure in Pangabula, as the title suggests, offers too much Tuffy, and not enough Jay Jay. (I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the creepy similarity between Big Jake, Jay Jay's airplane mentor, and Richard Nixon.) These elements are especially disturbing given the PC, ecofriendly vibe that permeates the rest of the stories, which have morals about not polluting the ocean, say, or make unsubtle points about differences and inclusion. (For instance, Mrs. Lee, the librarian, is deaf, and signs her story to Tuffy, who translates for Jay Jay.)

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: We're not talking high quality Pixar animation here, and similarly the quality of the transfer seems a little slapdash. Colors are occasionally garishly bright, and are inconsistent from scene to scene.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The dialogue is frequently difficult to make out, in the upper registers especially; this may be a transfer problem, but it sounds more like a scoring problem. Also, the audio engineers seem to have had some fun layering in airplane sounds, and they can occasionally be way too loud.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 5 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dragon Tales, Bear In the Big Blue House, The Trumpet of the Swan
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. "Think About" Moments—two thirty-second spots on water and air
  2. Sing-Alongs—four songs with words
Extras Review: The sing-alongs are probably the most kid-friendly feature here, Jay Jay karaoke, more or less, featuring the show's theme song and three other tunes from the episodes with the words bouncing along the bottom of the screen. The "Think About" Moments are little interjected bits of science class, made a little more palatable by Jay Jay's air traffic controller.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

A couple of insensitive missteps make it difficult to recommend these particular stories wholeheartedly; but then, these tales are generally more earnest than inspired. I'd cue up a safer choice like Thomas the Tank Engine before flying Air Jay Jay.


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