Movie Review–The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie

Cue that old familiar Hee Haw Tune: “Oh where oh where could that Bob be? Why did he leave Larry here all alone? Larry tried to star in the movie on his own. Alas, he needed the help of his friend….” And that pretty much sums it up, from a certain point of view, namely mine.

The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie is a cute and safe diversion for the seven and under crowd and the parents who love them. It boasts cute songs, silly pratfalls, goofy characters and a passable plotline, however derivative it might be. Yet this is the very thing we have come to expect, those of us who have followed Veggie Tales from the beginning, especially the previous theatrical release. And for us, it works. Yet, judging by the nearly empty primetime theater crowd, it did not go off so well for people in my neighborhood. At least, not at the 7:15 Sunday night showing. So I enjoyed the movie with a nearby father and his five year-old daughter. That is, I enjoyed it while not nodding off during the mad cheetos chase scene. No, I did not miss much. The scene was really rather garish. Who would have thought that cheetos could look so nightmarish? Hey, that rhymes! But I disgress….

As suggested in my opening attempt at musical foreshadowing, Bob the Tomato was oddly and inexplicably absent from this installment of the movie series. He did show up in the opening credits to help rotate the Big Idea logo so that it did not face the viewing audience backwards. Honestly, this was the highlight of the show for me. From there, it slid into a malaise of unenergetic ordinariness. I think the main problem I experienced was the absence of a crowd of kids to instill a sense of wonder into this jaded critic. In my mind’s eye I could imagine the points where a crowd of little ones would giggle, ooh and aah. And there were a couple of subtle nods to the adults, reminding them that the intended audience is families and not necessarily individual sleepy male adults.

I think I would have enjoyed the film far more with a gaggle of little ones and their parents in tow. Yet, considering the movie on its own apparent merits, I felt disappointed on a few points. First, as I already have stated, I felt let down by the absence of Bob. Second, the derivative nature of the pirates theme felt a bit anti-climatic, given the unfortunate box office fall from grace of The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Third, the lack of any apparent innovation in the animation technique seemed to stand out to me. It had the usual visual appeal, which works in DVD small screen format, but it seemed dated, given the overall advances of industry standards. Fourth, I became confused when the three protagonists were transported to another time and place in the distant past to become heroes. Yet, in the past, there appeared to be knowledge and capability of technology (mechanical dragon and also mechanical body parts for the evil one legged captain) which was inconsistent of ancient pirate times. Kids would not necessarily notice this or care about it, but I found it kind of odd.

On the whole, I liked the movie, despite my criticisms. I think it is appropriate for little ones and their families. It is rated G. It says some important things about the value of every person, no matter their station in life. It has a broad name recognition which extends beyond the borders of the church campus. So any criticism, by me or by professional critics should not be taken as a slight against the Big Idea company. Rather, it should be taken as a source of encouragement, understanding that a Christian production company is providing content which is often is on a par with the best that Hollywood has to offer. Yet with that recognition, also comes the pressure to perform at increasingly higher levels. Who knows. Soon it may be time to call in Larryboy to knock one out of the ballpark….

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6 thoughts on “Movie Review–The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie

  1. Glenn – We saw the movie Saturday night, in a theater that was about half full, but that didn’t help much.

    I think your review is on target. We felt let down by the movie, although my son is already begging to buy the DVD.

    At several points the plot crossed from “silly” to “non-sense” which is unfortunate.

    I was also disappointed at how completely non-Christian the Veggie Tales have become. Yes, there was a good moral to the story. Yes, you could make a case for some kind of “Father” allegory, although having the villain as his brother would cause some real theological concerns.

    I don’t think public school teachers would get any flack for showing this film to their classes, unless the kids complained that it was boring.

    At least we have our old Veggie DVDs

  2. Hi Tony,

    Thanks for dropping by. I can appreciate what you are saying. I understand why you raise concerns with the apparent evil brother to good father allegory. If someone were to take this at face value as a biblical perspective, that certainly would be problematic. Personally, I think it goes back to the derivative nature of the story, which is typical of most of the Veggie Tales stories, both in the theatrical and straight to video versions.

    For my part, I would not say that Veggie Tales has become non-Christian, although I would agree that this specific installment did not have explicit evangelical truth claims or biblical references. For me, that is not necessarily a bad thing in a movie, so long as a Christian worldview is evident. I agree that we are hard-pressed to find it in this film, although it can be argued it is present in a more subtle form. Phil Vischer discussed this issue at length on his website and also on kidology.org. I will say that this film fell far short of my expectations for the reasons I stated in my review. I am not sure that adding more explicitely distinctive evangelical elements would have helped the quality of the production as it currently exists. Lest anyone should take issue with my opinion, I would have been just as happy with the film if it had contained biblical references and a more definitive Christian message. Yet, the main vehicle, the story and the production itself seemed to fall short of making the movie memorable for the long term.

    Good thoughts. I hope that future releases, if they are forthcoming, will have a better showing.

  3. I wonder what impact this will have for their business model? I really do want to see the franchise continue, but I don’t see how they can justify continuing theatrical releases if the sales are so poor.

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