Jonah: A Veggietales Movie

Those who didn't embark on parenthood in the late '90s may not be familiar with VeggieTales, a wildly successful series of straight-to-video, family-friendly kid-flicks aptly described by their creators as a cross between Monty Python and Sunday School. Here's what you need to know: The characters are all cartoon vegetables and the stories stress biblical...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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Those who didn't embark on parenthood in the late '90s may not be familiar with VeggieTales, a wildly successful series of straight-to-video, family-friendly kid-flicks aptly described by their creators as a cross between Monty Python and Sunday School. Here's what you need to know: The characters are all cartoon vegetables and the stories stress biblical themes. Depending on your age and your level of religiosity, this may strike you as somewhat icky. If not, you're the right demographic to enjoy this first full-length feature starring the familiar series characters. After a brief framing segment in which the Veggie family van breaks down, stranding them at an out-of-the-way seafood joint, we go directly to the familiar Biblical story of Jonah and the whale, tarted up with a series of Disney-esque musical numbers, a new-to-the-series comic foil (a worm-grasshopper hybrid named Khalil) and some genuinely impressive computer animation. It seems mean-spirited to criticize a children's film whose central message involves the value of compassion and mercy. And to be fair, the Veggie brain-trust also throws in some amusing anachronisms to keep adults and/or cynics from nodding out, along with a sly homage to Omar Sharif's famous entrance in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. It should also be said that the scene in which the veggie citizens of Nineveh stand around slapping each other with fish is genuinely funny, in a Python-esque kind of way. Co-director Phil Vischer's voicing of the title character is also highly entertaining, since he sounds for all the world like Nathan Lane in high dudgeon, affecting a plummy English accent. Still, even generally sympathetic adults may eventually find their minds wandering, if only because of the characters' continual, annoying hopping; being vegetables, they have no legs, you see. And there's no getting around one central problem: The big, concluding musical number — "Jonah Was a Prophet" — is such an unholy mix of the addictively catchy and the world-class irritating that you may find yourself banging your head against the nearest wall in an effort to rid yourself of its pernicious influence.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: G
  • Review: Those who didn't embark on parenthood in the late '90s may not be familiar with VeggieTales, a wildly successful series of straight-to-video, family-friendly kid-flicks aptly described by their creators as a cross between Monty Python and Sunday School. He… (more)

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