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Flik's Musical Adventure at Disney's Animal Kingdom:
Sing Along Songs DVD Review

Buy Sing Along Songs at Disney's Animal Kingdom: Flik's Musical Adventure from Amazon.com Flik's Musical Adventure at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Sing Along Songs DVD Details

Director: Greg Gold

Running Time: 34 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated / Video Debut: June 8, 1999

Song List: "Welcome to Harambe", "On Safari", "I Wan'na Be Like You", "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby", "Walk The Dinosaur", "It's a Bug's World", "Asia", "He Lives In You", "Circle Of Life"

1.33:1 Fullscreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: September 27, 2005
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $14.99
White Keepcase

By Renata Joy

Last decade, when the most popular home video medium was something called VHS, Disney primarily released two types of Sing Along Songs volumes: those designed to promote their new theatrical releases and those which advertised their various theme parks. Sing Along Songs: Flik's Musical Adventure at Disney's Animal Kingdom, one of four volumes newly issued on DVD, mostly falls into the latter class, though as the title implies, it prominently features the star of Pixar Animation Studios' then-latest film as well.

Originally released a year after the opening of Walt Disney World Resort's latest theme park, Flik's Musical Adventure starts out promisingly enough, what with a dramatic opening shot of the park's central landmark, the Tree of Life, against a rising sun, followed by an intro newly animated by Pixar of Flik, the A Bug's Life protagonist. Unlike many Sing Along Songs volumes which dive directly into the music and singing at hand, this one attempts to tell a story (namely that of a group of kids heading out on a safari), give animal fun facts, and, of course, promote the Animal Kingdom park at the same time. After Flik introduces the kids in the cast (the names of which no viewer will remember once the show has finished), the songs begin.

The musical selections are set to a mix of clips from Disney's animated films, promotional visuals from the wild Florida theme park, and some stock animal footage usually discernible by its grainy picture quality.

With new animation (a concept radical for most of Disney's preschool-tailored direct-to-video lines) from Pixar, Flik introduces you to his "Musical Adventure." The young visitors are excited to go on safari with their beautiful host.

The catchy, Swahili-infused "Welcome to Harambe" kicks off the festivities as our group of young explorers head to the African section of the theme park. The adults joining them in song and dance would seem to be authentic African residents, if only they weren't wearing their Disney Cast Member badges. Next, we are taken "On Safari" via the Kilimanjaro Safaris. Those who have been to Animal Kingdom know that while this ride is one of the highlights of the park, the animals rarely get quite as close as they seem to in this segment.

And what is animal footage without some silly apes? The Jungle Book's "I Wanna Be Like You" is featured here, albeit accompanied by some rather bright and mildly disturbing cross-dressing orangutans, and updates lyrics so that the kids want to be monkeys instead of the other way around. "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" offers little more than footage of baby animals, both of the Disney animation and live action (presumably not even taken from the park) varieties. The clips range from the expected (Dumbo and The Lion King) to the surprising ("Lambert the Sheepish Lion" and "Elmer Elephant").

"Walk the Dinosaur" -- yes, that radical song by Was (Not Was), though it is not performed by them here -- follows, showing less footage of Dinoland U.S.A. and the then-titled Countdown to Extinction thrill ride than of the kids dancing in the fossil dog play area inexplicably clad in Flintstone-esque cave people clothes.

Are you suuuure this is who you wanna be like? Though Was (Not Was) is nowhere to be heard, you still can't help but sing along with the brilliant prehistoric jam of their timeless 1990 album "What Up, Dog?"

Then, Flik takes the opportunity to show some "home movies" (some might call them clips from Disney/Pixar's A Bug's Life) set to "It's a Bug's World", which is a never quite right reconfiguration of "It's a Small World." Reworking classic songs appears to become the new theme, as the next selection, "Asia", is set to the tune of "The Siamese Cat Song" from Lady and the Tramp. What works well as a short melody in its original setting here grows increasingly grating on the nerves, as it is turned into a longer song that spouts out facts while at the same attempting to rhyme.

The final two songs ("He Lives in You" and "Circle of Life") are Lion King-related, therefore it is fitting that they are both performed by cast members of the park's popular Festival of The Lion King show in front of the Tree of Life in a nighttime setting.

For a Disney park enthusiast, it may be fun to identify various parts of Animal Kingdom and share knowledge with those unfamiliar with the sights. Aside from that, the DVD offers little, especially for those over the age of 10. The shortage of Disney songs and the unnecessary inclusion of transitional fun facts tailored to introduce educational value both detour the expected Sing Along experience from being delivered. On the other hand, if you're looking for a volume that breaks free from the typical formulas of the line, your animal funny bone will be tickled for a total of 34 minutes, including end credits.

"Circle of Life" is as good a selection to end your safari as any. A big red dinosaur frightens park visitors on the thrilling Countdown to Extinction attraction.

VIDEO and AUDIO

While it is doubtful that there has been any attempt to remaster the picture quality, such a step is not especially necessary, as the video is a mere six years old. Although this collection of songs lacks the early '90s nostalgia value of the other three Sing Along releases, this reality ensures that any softness, faded color or the rare artifact are equally obsolete. As mentioned before, the only problems in picture arise during the stock animal footage, and this is due to the photography itself, and not the transfer. The newly-animated segments featuring Flik may not be up to the typical Pixar standards, but they are presentable and are a welcome alternative to the recycled animation as seen in recent direct-to-video outputs from Disney. Naturally, all is presented in the 1.33:1 "fullscreen" aspect ratio as it originally appeared.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track makes use of the surround speakers surely enough, but to such an extent that it is hardly noticeable. As a product of the digital age, there is a bit more life and a bit more channel separation here than what is offered in the older Sing Along Songs volumes it makes its DVD debut alongside. The rare bits of dialogue and various sound effects are well-defined, and the main aural attraction (the songs) are capably presented as well.

March of the Artimals is one of the park's attractions prominently displayed here. Musical notes bounce past a speechless Flik in the animated main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, and DESIGN

No bonus features are to be found on this disc, and none are necessarily expected, being that this is merely a repackaging of previously-released videocassette which (surprise!) was also lacking in items of the supplementary variety. Like the concurrently released Sing Along DVDs, the disc opens with the no longer new and exciting trailer for Cinderella: Platinum Edition (why they couldn't come up with a different trailer for once is beyond me), Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment, and the all-new Chicken Little trailer. From the menu, you receive exclusive access to trailers for such fun things as the upcoming Disney Learning Adventures, Disney Princess DVDs galore, and the Disney Princess Fantasy DVD Game.

A plethora of musical notes bouncing merrily on a staff are to be found on the 4x3 animated menus. A motionless Flik watches from the background as you make your selection toward melodical enlightenment, while the Sing Along Songs theme music gives a preview of the delights to come.

To infinity and beyond! (Sorry, I had to.) Decked out in their safari threads, Mickey, Minnie, and the cast of kids wave "jambo."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Of the four Sing Alongs Songs volumes released to DVD this week, Flik's Musical Adventure at Disney's Animal Kingdom stands alone in its format of forced edutainment, loose storyline, and occasional Disney film excerpt. Otherwise, it offers the half-hour of singing, dancing, and animated lyrics that you'd expect from the series. If you are looking for the typical park-themed Disney Sing Along DVD and their early '90s nostalgic grooving, the other three entries are certainly more apt to please. But if you're fan of A Bug's Life or Disney's Animal Kingdom (and the showcasing here will entice those unfamiliar with either), then this disc makes for an okay choice for youngsters, if failing to deliver enough entertainment to justify even the initial bargain pricing.

More on this DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Sing Along Songs: Disneyland Fun - It's a Small World
A Bug's Life (Collector's Edition)
The Lion King (Platinum Edition)
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (Special Edition)
Cheetah A Far Off Place
Sing Along Songs: Sing A Song with Pooh
Disney Princess Sing Along Songs: Volume 1 - Once Upon a Dream
Walt Disney Records: Summer 2005 CD Roundup

UltimateDisney.com | DVD Review Index | Sing Along Songs DVDs on the Direct-to-Video Page | September's Disney DVD Releases

Reviewed September 27, 2005.