The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie
Directed by Mike Nawrocki. Voices by Mike Nawrocki, Phil Vischer, Cam Clarke, Laura Gerow. (2008, G, 85 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Jan. 18, 2008
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of … V8? That’s what you get when you cross VeggieTales characters with a pirate yarn. I have to say that before now, I wasn’t personally familiar with this popular series’ animated, direct-to-video, faith-based, vegetable characters, and I also somehow missed their 2002 big-screen debut, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. As I wasn’t expecting much, I must say that Pirates doesn’t disappoint. Yet in spite of its flat, computer-generated animation and a G-rated joke-a-thon, Pirates is an understandable kiddie attraction. The action and patter is nonstop, and there’s just enough message about the ability to overcome one’s fears, laziness, and self-disparagement to make it suitable for the young ’uns without insulting their intelligence. Surprisingly, there is very little in the way here of religious overtones (only a climactic speech by a king who extols the story’s unlikely heroes’ newfound confidence in higher powers). The film is too antic to arouse any emotion toward these vegetable characters; however, any kids attending the film will already be familiar with the series’ stock players of Larry the Cucumber, et al. In this film, the characters have new names and are dressed in pirate garb – which, essentially, are tuber tube tops held up by large swashbuckles. Those unfamiliar with the characters may find their absence of appendages alarming. They hop everywhere because they have no feet, and their lack of arms makes their sword-brandishing a surreal sight. They hop the plank, and a disconnected mop swabs the deck. I don’t think it’s meant to be a metaphysical puzzle. Director Nawrocki and screenwriter Vischer, who also gives voice to the majority of the characters, are the undisputed auteurs of this series. Only they know if it was scurvy that stunted these pirates’ growth.