The enormously successful VeggieTales franchise — originally a direct-to-video series featuring a variety of limbless, computer-generated vegetables hopping and bouncing their way through various comic moral quandries — has been taken to task for being a thinly disguised Christian catechism class. But this short and charming G-rated pirate yarn — the second theatrically released VeggieTales feature and the first distributed by a major studio — isn't nearly as allegorical as THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA or THE GOLDEN COMPASS and it's occasionally quite funny.
Somewhere in the middle of the ocean, sometime during the 17th century, the ship carrying young leek Prince Alexander (voice of Yuri Lowenthal) is attacked by gourdly Robert the Terrible (Cam Clarke) and his crew of piratical vegetables. Robert is not only the most feared buccaneer on the high seas — a master of the "mechanical arts," he's fashioned himself some pretty scary limbs — he's also Alexander's uncle and he claims that his cowardly brother, the king (Clarke), has permanently decamped to the western seas. In the king's absence, Robert is determined to assume the throne, so he plans to hold the young prince hostage in his secret island lair until the crown is handed over. As Robert takes Alexander prisoner, his sister, Princess Eloise (Laura Gerow), and her faithful asparagus butler Willory (Phil Vischer) are hiding below deck. Hoping to save her brother and her kingdom, Eloise turns to the Help Seeker, a small, blinking golden globe her father has given her for use in just such an emergency. Eloise asks the globe to seek out a group of heroes to come to the rescue, and the gilded orb bounces off into the sea. Meanwhile, in the present day, three menial "cabin boys" who wait tables at "Pieces of Ate," a pirate-themed dinner theater featuring a swashbuckling, Gilbert and Sullivan-styled floor show, have just been fired. Elliot (Mike Nawrocki), an easily frightened cucumber with a long list of phobias; Sedgewick (Vischer), a lazy gourd with no stick-to-it-iveness; and George (Vischer), a meek grape whose kids respect the show's star, Sir Frederick (Vischer), more than their own father, are mulling over their grim futures outside the stage exit when Princess Eliose's Help Seeker bounces out of the back of a garbage truck. With a brave press of a button by Elliot — the first step toward the cuke's eventual transformation from wimp to hero — this most unlikely heroic trio is transported back in time to the pirate-filled seas of the 17th century, just in time to save Princess Eloise. But can three salad ingredients save an entire kingdom?
With an obvious debt to GALAXY QUEST — check the rock monster and those hysterically vicious, toothy cheese puffs — and nods to such decidedly non-kiddie fare as Brian De Palma's SCARFACE, the film, like most animated features these days, brims with pop-culture references but doesn't seem smug or, worse, lazy. The film's last-minute messages, delivered upon the glorious second coming of the king (no matter how difficult the task before you, you're never really facing it alone; the real hero is the righteous man) really are straight out of Sunday school, and it would have been nice if just one of the heroes were a girl (a chickpea, perhaps?). That said, it's wholesome fun for the whole family, and any adult who's seen that one very sick, very wrong episode of Comedy Central's Drawn Together will have an extra reason to laugh. Stick around for the inspired take on the B-52's "Rock Lobster" just before the credits roll.
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- Released: 2008
- Rating: G
- Review: The enormously successful VeggieTales franchise — originally a direct-to-video series featuring a variety of limbless, computer-generated vegetables hopping and bouncing their way through various comic moral quandries — has been taken to task for being a t… (more)