ugg short boots Jump ropes in tales of double Dutch
January 17, 2007By Ginia Bellafante The New York Times
Is it blasphemous to suggest that in the world of urbane American child rearing there simply seems to be too much love between parents and teenagers? Too much trading of Ugg boots and playlists, too much consensus on Bob Dylan, David Sedaris and gnocchi? When precisely did the taste for rebellion expire?
Within certain demographics, young people seem to culturally distinguish themselves from their parents not by what they consume but merely by how they consume it. And for years now, television shows like Gilmore Girls and movies like What a Girl Wants have reflected this truth of shared affinity. It is hard to imagine an argument between Rory Gilmore and her mother, Lorelai, about movies, say, that wouldn’t merely turn into a debate about the merits of The Palm Beach Story versus The Lady Eve.
There is something vaguely lamentable about all this cross generational uniformity, and it would seem as if certain executives at the Disney Channel think so, too. Thursday, follows in the footsteps of the channel’s wildly popular High School Musical in advancing the culturally oppositional idea that children don’t have to like everything their parents do.
High School Musical has an athletic teenage boy defying his basketball coach father by getting involved with, well, his school musical. Jump In! offers more or less the same story. Here a boy pits himself against his father for the pursuit of his interest in jumping rope competitively.
Izzy, played by Corbin Bleu, realizes that his father is a good and decent man but doesn’t see himself becoming a boxer just because he was. So he makes the bold move of giving up practice sessions in the ring of his father’s gym to go join a bunch of girls out on the street to play double Dutch. It is to Disney’s credit that both here and in High School Musical not much is made of the choice to pursue more feminized pastimes. The real issue is choosing a parentally nonsanctioned one.
Izzy’s taste for jumping rope is merely an excuse for Bleu to show off his impressively acrobatic dance skills. You know exactly how the movie is going to turn out, but it is no less charming for that.
Musical with a message
The Broadway connection doesn’t end with Tartaglia. The show’s theme song was written by Steven Schwartz, the composer responsible for Pippin and Wicked, among others. Johnny and the Sprites is itself a musical, with each episode delivering two message vignettes (don’t watch too many video games; like yourself just the way you are) that the consistently buoyant and clever songs keep from feeling preachy. Parents, alas, may find something to like in it, too.