Directed by Paul Hoen
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 85 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English HD
Release Date: April 3, 2007
Review Date: March 30, 2007
After High School Musical shocked the world and became not only the highest rated made-for-cable movie in the Disney Channel’s history but also the start of another multi-million dollar franchise for the studio, the moguls at Disney found yet another smash hit in Jump In! which in its initial airing overtook High School Musical to rank now as the ratings record holder for a made-for-cable film. The company has wasted little time in getting this new DVD to an eagerly awaiting cadre of youngsters and their parents. Like its equally popular predecessor, the film is a story of being true to your instincts even in the face of disapproval and ridicule. It also features a toe-tapping soundtrack (though this clearly isn’t meant to be a musical) and a host of favorite performers from other Disney Channel productions.
Corbin Bleu stars as Izzy Daniels, an up and coming contender for a Golden Gloves boxing championship. In the midst of preparing for an important bout, a neighborhood sweetheart of his (Keke Palmer) introduces him to the flashy and challenging sport of Double Dutch, a jumping rope competition which mixes speedy footwork with gymnastic moves and eye-ear-foot coordination to an almost incomprehensible degree. Izzy quickly becomes taken with the sport and when a member of the local team quits, Izzy decides to fill in. Will his father (David Reivers), a former Golden Gloves champion who wants a title first and foremost for his son, accept that Izzy wants to ease off on the boxing in order to become a champion at jumping rope? With an overbearing father and a truckload of derision waiting for him if his secret participation leaks out into the neighborhood, Izzy has some tough decisions to make.
One must always keep in mind that this is a Disney film, so this ‘hood is the cleanest one you’re ever likely to see: no gangs, drugs, or profanity. There are bullies to be sure but bullies that can be talked to and reasoned with and who can turn their lives around with just a little gentle guidance. So, the film is free to show its protagonists with problems about choices involving sports instead of choices concerning more life threatening situations. It’s what we’ve expected from Disney films for over fifty years, and this one is no different. Director Paul Hoen who has directed several previous films for the Disney Channel doesn’t stumble with his work here. The film moves along well, and the actors are just skilled enough to pull off the light dramatics and the heavy athleticism of their roles. (Doubles were used for all of the principal participants, but the actors are clearly doing some of their own stunts, much to their credit.)
The level of athletic skill demanded of Double Dutch participants is something to behold, and the various routines which inhabit this film are clearly the centerpiece of the production. There is one extended fight sequence for Izzy and the local bully (Patrick Johnson, Jr.), but it pales in comparison to the real sport on display here. And having learned that pop music attached to a film on their channel can sell big, the soundtrack is peppered with various hip-hop tunes and one lovely ballad, “Where Do I Go From Here?”
This made-for-TV movie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Colors are accurate and flesh tones very lifelike. There is no evidence of edge halos, mosquito noise, or any other type of video artifact. The full frame transfer has obviously been made from a pristine master. One regrets, however, that the film wasn’t shot in 1.78:1 so that the impressive scope of Double Dutch artistry not to mention the frenzied competition that climaxes the production could have been more impressively captured on film. Despite being produced for the standard definition Disney Channel, a little forward thinking on the part of the producers could have given us a pulsating video presentation of this unique sport that is rendered a tiny bit less impressive using the old Academy ratio. There are 12 chapters in this presentation.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is clear and solid but doesn’t maximize the surrounds as thoroughly as it could. Yes, the music that saturates the soundtrack gets pumped through the fronts and rears impressively, never drowning out the dialog emanating from the center channel. But more could have been done with surround sounds at other times: during the fight sequence, as Izzy gets heckled at school once his secret is exposed, on a playground as Izzy watches smaller kids performing amazing feats of Double Dutching, and in other locales.
The DVD offers up five bonus features. There are two music videos of songs which play on the soundtrack during the film: star Keke Palmer performs “Jumpin’” and the T-Squad raps “Vertical.” Both videos use footage from the film intercut with the performances of the featured artists.
There is a seven minute “making of” featurette that includes interviews with the stars of the film, discusses the preparation for the rope jumping sequences, and even offers us brief glimpses of the stars’ doubles. There’s some interesting background here, but as usual, the featurette could have doubled its length to go into more depth with the film’s production. Another featurette featuring star Corbin Bleu is entitled “Learning the Moves” which offers rudimentary steps in beginning to Double Dutch at home.
As is always the case with Disney videos, there are some sneak peaks at films coming to television, theaters, and on video including High School Musical 2, Enchanted Tales, and Ratatouille.
Jump In! is a film both safe and entertaining for the entire family. It offers some impressive physical feats, some light dramatic moments, and a message for youngsters about following your heart and being true to yourself. It could certainly be used by parents looking for ways to help their children see that there are many roads to success that don’t always involve compromising your dreams to satisfy others.