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Featured DVD Review: Strawberry Shortcake: The Berryfest Princess

February 27th, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake: The Berryfest Princess - Buy from Amazon

It has been nearly 30 years since Strawberry Shortcake was first introduced and while its popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years, it is still around today. The latest direct-to-DVD release is The Berryfest Princess. Clearly I'm not in the target audience for this, but I've reviewed enough kids shows to know when one is working and when one needs work.

For those who don't know what Strawberry Shortcake is all about, it chronicles the adventures a group of six berry-theme fairies in the small village of Berry Bitty City. There's Strawberry Shortcake, the leader and the owner of the Berry Cafe; Orange Blossom, who runs the general store; Blueberry Muffin, the smart one; Plum Pudding, the dancer; Raspberry Torte, the designer; and Lemon Meringue, the beautician. Along with Kadiebug, Sadiebug, and the Berrykins, they live beneath the flowers helping them grow.

The movie begins with the last snowberrykin melting. That can only mean one thing: it's spring! And springtime means it is time for the Berryfest Spring Festival. However, Princess Berrykin has been called away by the Bitty Berrygrowers' Association and she's not there to perform all her traditional tasks, so they have to decide who should be this year's Berryfest Princess by holding an election. (I won't spoil the surprise, but I'll give you a hint: the show's not called Raspberry Torte.) After a grueling election where the girls learn that it is better when they work together, the new Berryfest Princess has to organize the parade route, work on the decorations, plan the dance routines, get the food made, cut the Wanderberry, and more. The obvious choice is to delegate, but when the others put too much pressure on her it's just too much to handle. Will the Berryfest Spring Festival be a success this year?

It's a good adventure, with a lot of life lessons given along the way. The story is a little episodic in nature, almost as if it was designed to be three episodes that were then stitched together as one movie. (Or perhaps one movie that was designed to be separated into three episodes in case the show is syndicated on TV later on.) Also, at just 64 minutes long, it's a little short to be considered a feature-length movie in my opinion. However, those are the only two real complaints I had. The design is bright and colorful, while the quality of the animation is in line with other direct-to-DVD releases like this. There's not a lot of music in the movie, but what there is catchier than what I was expecting. It will certainly entertain most kids, while the adults watching with them won't be looking for excuses to leave the room, especially if they grew up on Strawberry Shortcake when they were young.

There have been some complaints about the new, modern designs. I've heard them described as closer to Bratz than the Raggedy Anne design of the original, which is a perfect way to sum up the update. Also, some of the names and personalities have been changed. For instance, Raspberry Tart is now Raspberry Torte, perhaps because 'Tart' has a negative connotation when used to describe a woman. (Besides, tortes taste better.) That said, kids that are of the right age now won't care, while adults who grew up on the show will instantly recognize the gang and will get a nice hit of nostalgia.

Extras on the DVD include a sing-a-long version of the final song plus coloring pages that you can print out. That's not a lot, but it is in line with the previous release.

The Verdict

Strawberry Shortcake: The Berryfest Princess should please fans of the franchise, both young girls and those who grew up on the show that have young girls now. If you bought the previous release, then this DVD is also worth picking up. If you haven't seen any of the re-launched series, give it a rental.

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