A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jasper: Journey to the End of the World is a wonderfully animated DVD import from Germany, reissued for English-speaking audiences. The characters have British accents, and it might take a few minutes before young viewers become accustomed to the sounds. There is plenty of cartoon action, mostly laughable falls, slides, bonks, and chases. The lead villain is a mustache-twirling evildoer who hates kids; his henchmen are a bumbling strongman and a steely, teeth-baring cat. Our heroes get stuck in a washing machine, fall down a laundry shoot, and are stranded on ice, but all is resolved without injury or mayhem. Kids who are at ease with pretend vs. real jeopardy should have no problem with either the "danger" or the comic battles. Gentle messages about parents trusting their kids, the importance of teamwork and friendship, and not giving up run through the story.
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What's the story?
It's very, very cold where Jasper (voiced by Rick Adams) and his family of penguins live in JASPER: JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE WORLD. The elder penguins are certain that their habitat is the entire world: flat, white, and treacherous at its "edge." When Jasper alone sees a sign of something more -- in fact, an enormous luxury liner in their ocean -- no one believes him. One day, while in charge of his baby brother, Jasper sets off on an adventure that will prove him right. When Junior jumps into the ocean and lands on an ice floe, it's up to Jasper to rescue him. Winds overtake the brothers on their tiny ice floe, and as they float further and further from their land, snow and ice give way to sunshine and warmth. And there before them is the amazing ship. Before they know it, they've stowed away, met two new friends -- Kakapo, a very fearful parrot (Rob Rackstraw), and Emma, the ship captain's captivating little daughter (Kate Rawlings) -- and are united with them in a quest to save precious stolen parrot eggs from Dr. Block (Steve Hudson), a lemonade tycoon who wants to spread fear to all the children of the world. Will Kakapo save the eggs? Will Jasper and Junior find their way home? Will Emma find new "best friends forever?"
Is it any good?
This delightful tale with its wonderfully distinctive characters is one of those rare movies that both kids and grown-ups will enjoy. The animation, humor, and storytelling all are first rate. The very amusing action sequences find the heroes in all sorts of unusual shipboard predicaments -- swooshing down laundry chutes, clutching at portholes, and outwitting a diva who's interfering with their objective. Best of all, these sequences are dependent upon the personalities that have been established, so they are funnier and more inventive than others that rely strictly upon action alone. Terrific voice performances from all, with special kudos to Steve Hudson, who handles a slew of unique vocal roles. Recommended for all kids who clearly know the difference between real and cartoon jeopardy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Jasper's role as a big brother to Junior. Even though Junior is sometimes mischievous, how does Jasper treat him? Does he remain patient? Loving? If you have brothers or sisters, how do you handle any mixed feelings you have?
Find out what the word "extinct" means when it's related to living creatures. How does the threat of extinction make Kakapo's quest for the eggs so important?
Why did the penguins think the world was so small when the story opened? Upon what were they basing their belief? How did Jasper prove them wrong? How does learning new facts and listening to new ideas change us?
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