Veggie Tales makes big screen debut in delightful pirate adventure

Audiences long ago moved past the oddly unreal sight of a talking animated pig or rabbit. Their character development within the story is all that matters. Imagine the surprise when a novice to the world of ‘Veggie Tales’ landed in ground zero for the wildly popular children’s series’ big screen debut.

The source of the storyline—talking spuds, asparagus and their ilk—quickly became simply a vessel for which to tell this most compelling of stories.

“Veggie Tales: The Pirates Who Do Nothing” opens nationwide in theaters January 11. For fans of the salad fixing’s pop culture phenomenon, they will undoubtedly exit a theater believing they had experienced a film for children fit for Oscar gold.

For adults and children alike, the tale is basic and injects enough humor adults would appreciate to completely fill the theater with laughter—certainly a rare sight in films geared towards children of ages in single digits.

The damsel in distress, ragamuffins with no direction propelling constant slapstick-laden humor into the story that are tapped to be heroes—kids, we’ve seen this before.

But where the “Pirates” story deviates is how it punctuates the Biblical themes of its creator, Big Idea Entertainment, without slamming audiences over their collective heads with faith-based fun.

Lessons abound from respecting elders, especially parents, to how heroes come in all sizes and shapes—they don’t have to be made of steel and wear an ‘S’ on their leotard.

Visually, the film is arresting. The soundtrack, as in any children’s film worth its weight, is delightful. Original tracks from some of Christian rock’s hottest acts manage to perform the same miracle as the creators of “Veggie Tales: Pirates Who Do Nothing”—produce vibrant, blindly enjoyable and enlightening entertainment without the Bible serving as an anvil on the proverbial animated rabbit’s head.

“The Pirates Who Do Nothing” begins very “Pirates of the Caribbean-esque.” From its swashbuckling soundtrack pulsating through the opening sequence to its wait-there’s-more thrilling ending, this is a buccaneer bonanza Captain Jack could sink his discolored teeth into and devour.

The Veggie Tales enigma is largely the product of writers, creators and the voice for a majority of their creations, Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki. The duo has spawned their inspirational faith-based children’s entertainment empire into a 50 million selling DVD empire—and let’s not forget the books.

What Vischer, who serves as screenwriter on this project, and Nawrocki as director, have done has brought a layer of emotion to these characters that play to the original point of animation—to deliver messages through the use of characters who would not normally be voicing any sort of opinion.

By using the canvas of a pirate’s tale for their first feature, the creative duo have landed in a safe haven for exploring the rights and wrongs of the world. The spiritual elements are present, but who can argue with the spirit of the Ten Commandments which seem to guide this film. If matched with a compelling story, the virtues of honor thy parents and do unto others as you would have done to you, is surprisingly not so overbearing and preachy coming from a cucumber.

“Veggie Tales: The Pirates Who Do Nothing”
Opening nationwide: Friday, January 11
Studio: Universal Studios
Run time: 85 minutes
Rated: G


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