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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Jay Jay the Jet Plane: Learning Life's Little Lessons (2002)

"Cross my wings and hope to fly!"
- Jay Jay the Jet Plane

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: May 02, 2002

Stars: Eve Whittle, Dee Dee Green, Marie Danielle, Julie Renick, C. W. Walken
Other Stars: Parachute Express
Director: Hugh Martin

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:53m:52s
Release Date: April 23, 2002
UPC: 043396084872
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Welcome back to Tarrytown Airport, for five more adventures with Jay Jay the Jet Plane and his high-flying friends. The emphasis in these stories is on imparting morals to children, but they're not done with a heavy hand, and their lessons are generally unarguable.

In the first episode, Herky the Helicopter comes down with a nasty case of Upsy Downosis, and I think we all know how painful that can be. He's afraid that if he lets on that he's sick, he won't be able to attend the fair in the next village, Rivertown. But his efforts to fly only make his ailment worse, and soon he's laid up in the hangar—no fair for him. Brenda Blue the mechanic imparts the lesson: if he had admitted that he was under the weather as soon as he felt bad, he might be well enough by now to attend the fair. Soon his pals are all in the aviation infirmary, too, and so everybody's visit to the fair is going to be delayed. The little life lesson here for kids is to let an adult know when you don't feel well, but it seems sort of roundabout, and Herky resembles no one so much as a pitcher or a running back minimizing an injury to keep the coach from benching them. (Herky's voice is a little peculiar, too, sort of a cross between Jackie Stewart and Forrest Gump, with a headcold.)

It's Tracy's turn to step in it in the second installment, Tracy's Sonic Boom. Tracy the airplane is eager to be just like her mentor, Savannah the SST, and break the sound barrier with loud sonic booms. (Savannah is supposed to be a Southern belle of an aircraft, I guess, but with her beestung lips and impossibly long eyelashes, she looks more drag queen than Scarlett O'Hara.) Tracy's lesson is promised for tomorrow, but she takes a shot at it today, and ends up crashing in the forest. Savannah comes to the rescue, but not before conveying the lesson that you should wait for guidance before trying something new.

Happily, everybody avoids trouble in the next chapter, Herky & The Opposites Game, which has more to do with Snuffy, an opposites game novice, than with Herky. Snuffy learns the ropes from Herky and Jay Jay, with a special assist from Old Oscar, an ancient biplane. The moral goes down a little easier here—there are older and wiser folks around, and it's a good idea to ask them for help—but the bulk of the information is about basic opposites: smooth and rough, wet and dry, and so on.

Snuffy develops an inordinate fondness for his creation Jack Frosty in the next episode, Snuffy's Snowman, and insists that Jack come with them to play, and even spend the night in the airport hangar. (This is problematic, as it is heated, and Jack starts to melt.) Think too hard about this one, and you'll be asking all sorts of questions, such as: how do airplanes, even computer-animated, anthropomorphic ones, build a snowman, given that they have wings, and lack arms, hands and opposable thumbs? An agreeable solution is reached when the planes transport Jack back to the snowcapped mountaintop, where he and Snuffy won't have to fear the coming of the warmer months.

It's all about perseverance in the final chapter, Tracy's Shooting Star. Poor Tracy misses out twice on the astronomical fireworks, first on a camping trip led by Savannah, then back home on the runway. But Brenda convinces her to "hang in there" (though she responds: "Hang what? In where?"), and the third time is a charm—her shooting star crashes to the earth, and the meteorite is to go on display at the Tarrytown museum, with a plaque mentioning Tracy.

There are fewer adults interacting with the animated characters on this disc than on the previous Jay Jay offering, and for the youngest children especially, this is a blessing.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Transfer is serviceable, though the color levels are a little inconsistent. Perhaps it's a problem with the computer animation, but tones vary in weird ways—for instance, the carrot serving as Jack Frosty the Snowman's nose ranges arbitrarily from fluorescent orange to ashen gray.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Stereo sound is adequate, though surprisingly enough the Spanish-language track is warmer and has less interference than the English one.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

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

Extra Extras:
  1. "Think About" Moments—two thirty-second spots on change and rocks
  2. Sing-Alongs—four songs with words
Extras Review: Brenda Blue presides over the two "Think About" Moments, the briefest of introductions to metamorphosis and geology. Follow the bouncing words with the Sing-Alongs, for Jay Jay's theme song and three other tunes featured in the episodes—great big capital letters perfect for preschool crooners.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

The little people in your home may have already booked their flights, and overall the episodes here are genial enough. It's too much to hope, I know, that my son will forsake such fare for The Simpsons anytime soon, but that's probably all for the good, for now, as Jay Jay provides some wholesome (if rather uninspired) fun.


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