Children?s favorite singing food group is back, claiming, ?If you like to talk to tomatoes, if a squash can make you smile ? Have we got a movie for you!? The latest creation from the minds at Big Idea Productions is ?The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie,? an animated adventure film entertaining for all ages, but lacking the key characteristics that made the VeggieTales franchise so unique at its beginning.
The film begins with three misfit friends, Elliot the Cucumber (voiced by director Mike Nawrocki), Sedgewick the Gourd and George the Grape (both voiced by writer Phil Vischer), who are busboys at a pirate-themed restaurant. They dream of being stars in the restaurant?s pirate show, but when they audition for the parts, one disastrous mistake leads to another, and the set is wrecked. Not only do the fruit and veggie friends fail to get the acting parts, they are fired and kicked to the back alley.
All hope is not lost, however, when a mysterious blinking, beeping metal ball suddenly falls from the sky and lands in the alley. While Sedgewick and George scream, ?It?s a bomb!? and run to hide, Elliot (recognized as Larry the Cucumber from previous VeggieTales episodes) is, typically, curious. He pushes a button on the ball, and a rowboat (yes, a rowboat) falls from the sky. Now losing their fear to the lull of the unknown, all of the friends hop in the boat and, you guessed it, push of the button. However, falling from the sky and into to the middle of the ocean, which is just what happens, was not what they had in mind. Sedgewick, always leery of adventure (and by far the funniest veggie), advises in his thick accent, ?I?m thinking we should avoid pushing any more buttons!?
Continuing in standard VeggieTales form, the bizarre plot moves on to find Elliot, George and Sedgewick rowing to discover Princess Eloise, who calls them heroes and claims her father sent for them using the ?helpseeker,? which we learn is the blinking ball that teleported the wannabe pirates. Though certain they are by no means heroes, the three decide to play along and gladly face another adventure in helping the princess rescue her brother.
Yet true to the title of the movie, the three ?heroes? turn out to be slackers, playing tic-tac-toe, bowling with coconuts and spending most of their time laying in hammocks on the ship deck. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a strange adventure involving a giant whirlpool and rock monsters quickly ensues.
The VeggieTales legacy began in 1993 when Nawrocki and Vischer created what became a series of videos that retold Bible stories with animated vegetables and silly songs.
However, musically the new film carries merely average tracks, disappointingly lacking an equivalent to ?The Hairbrush Song? or ?The Water Buffalo Song,? nonsensical classics that helped to define its early movies. The Christian rock band Reliant K performs a version of the new film?s title song, a remake without the spark of the original. It was first sung by VeggieTales characters in the 1998 video, ?Are You My Neighbor?? Though fitting the goofy comedy of the film, these lyrics were more memorable when sung by vegetables: ?We are the pirates who don’t do anything/ We just stay at home, and lie around/ And if you ask us to do anything/ We’ll just tell you, we don’t do anything.?
Additionally, unlike previous VeggieTales productions, ?The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything? is not based on a Bible story. The quest archetype is present, with the king sending Elliot and his friends on a quest through the helpseeker and giving them the tools they need to complete it, but audiences will not notice a specifically Christian message.
?We ? use the allegory of life being a gift, that God ? calls us into adventure and provides what we need to heed that call,? Nawrocki said in a Big Idea Productions interview. The moral of the story is, as the king so aptly puts it, ?The hero is the one who, no matter how hard, does what he knows is right.?
The plot is simple enough for young audiences, but the dialogue is fast-paced enough to entertain adults. A play on the pieces of eight seen in ?Pirates of the Caribbean: At World?s End? and a scene in Jolly Joe?s Bar (serving ginger ale, of course!) are amusing twists.
Overall, ?The Pirates Who Don?t Do Anything? is sweet, but those looking for something like the classic VeggieTales stories will walk away disenchanted. Wait for the DVD and watch it with younger friends or family. Though the theme song purports, ?There?s never, ever, ever, ever, ever been a show like VeggieTales,? perhaps that?s best for the big screen.
3 stars out of 5