The Strawberry Shortcake Movie: Sky’s the Limit definitely surprised me. As I turned this 96-minute movie on I expected to be bombarded with female stereotypes: flowers, butterflies, and the color pink. Though Strawberry didn’t fail to deliver these dainty, feminine elements, it also offered six very strong and independent female characters.
After watching the intro on car seat safety, sponsored by AAA and unable to be skipped, the movie begins. The opening scene shows the town of Berry Bitty City where all the girls live; Strawberry, Orange, Plum, Blueberry, Lemon and Raspberry. The Berrykins (who pick the berries to keep the berry juice flowing which is what powers the entire city) dance while picking berries and singing a song about their “very nice life.” Orange, the craftiest of the girls, has created a juice fountain and is showing it off to all her friends, while Strawberry works on a new smoothie recipe. We are introduced to the only character different from Strawberry and friends, Mr. Longface. He is the lovable caterpillar who seems to offer the girls’ guidance while reading his family’s stories from an “old family journal.”
In the midst of all the fun a major storm hits Berry Bitty City, but the girls and Mr. Longface have a good time even when stuck indoors. After the rain and commotion end, the girls find that Berry Bitty City’s water supply has been cut off by a giant boulder that has fallen into their main stream and can’t be moved without crushing the entire city. This is a big dilemma, since without water the berries can’t grow and without berries the city wont be able to function. While the girls mope around and realize that they are going to have to move their city and replant all their berries in another area with a water supply, Mr. Longface comes up with a solution. In his “old family journal” he found the way to a magical geyser stone that when in contact with the sun makes fresh, clean water spew from the ground. And so the adventure begins…
Once all the girls and Mr. Longface start on this adventure they are faced with a multitude of challenges. First, his compass doesn’t work, so Orange uses her creative imagination to navigate the ways. Then bunnies trample the daisies the girls are walking along and so they create “daisy gliders” that fly through the sky transporting the girls to where they need to go. Lemon, the most timid of the characters, needs lots of support from her friends to be able to make it through this adventure. This is representative of the movie’s entire theme: if your friends are there to help, you can do anything.
After one too many challenges the girls begin to regret this adventure and almost turn back and accept the defeat of having to relocate. After seeing Plum cry over the thought of losing her home, all the girls and Mr. Longface realize that they must continue on. Their determination finally leads them to the location of the magical geyser stone. After feeling much disappointment that the stone Mr. Longface shows them doesn’t supply water, the girls all go to sleep and wait for the sun to come up. In the middle of the night Mr. Longface awakes while he thinks the rest of the group is asleep to throw the magical geyser stone away and avoid the disappointment destined for the morning. But the girls wake up, and after having to save Mr. Longface from falling off a cliff and the girls all working together, the geyser stone falls into the river below. They also learn this “old family journal” was actually a cookbook, and the stories he’s been telling and the adventures he’s been taking them on have actually been 100% fabricated. In turn, they realize that the great geyser stone had no magical powers and in no way would have saved Berry Bitty City.
Once the girls return to Berry Bitty City, they realize the only way to save their town is to work together towards finding a solution, because clearly using magical stones and shortcuts was not going to work. All the girls work together to move the boulder, which seemed an impossible task. Once the town is saved, the girls forgive Mr. Longface, and you are led to assume they live happily ever after.
Overall, the story is filled with lessons of determination, friendship and forgiveness. I think it is integrated very well, offering a movie that children will love to watch and parents will be happy to purchase. I also feel the movie is very empowering to females; it demonstrates that you don’t need a man to do the metaphorical heavy lifting. To succeed all it takes is a few determined friends who are willing to work together, encourage one another to pursue their ideas, and help each other through whatever challenges they face – be it jumping a gap in the cliff or creating a system to move a huge boulder.
The video is presented in widescreen format. The animation is digitalized and crisp, almost reminiscent of a video game as opposed to a tradition children’s cartoon. The colors are vibrant and captivating. Each girl is dressed in the color according to her fruit with flowing hair a child will be entranced by. The movie is visually stimulating to both adult and child.
The Dolby 5.1 Surround offers dialog, effects and music. The dialog is clear and easy to understand. The sounds of the special effects add to the overall effect of the movie as a whole, making each adventure even more exciting. The music is pleasant and sets the tone for the story. Overall, it is high quality sound that carries the movie along and beckons no complaints.
Music Video – “Café Cabret” Sing-Along. Fun for kids to watch and learn the lyrics to Strawberry and friends’ empowering song about trying no matter what seems to stand in your way and always finding your way back home.
DVD-ROM Printable Coloring Pages – The DVD works as a CD-ROM offering another viewing option, and the coloring pages offer a fun past time for kids who can’t get enough of Strawberry and her friends.
Strawberry Shortcake is usually viewed as a hyper-feminine character, so I didn’t expect much when it came to empowerment. I was pleasantly surprised by the story and character development. The plot was both entertaining and educational. Since the last time I saw a Strawberry Shortcake film was before the age of the DVD, the video quality definitely caught me off guard. I was thoroughly impressed by the animation and thought the color made it even more entertaining and captivating. I will definitely be passing this DVD on to the 5-year-old girl I nanny because it is overall a great DVD for a young girl to add to her collection.