Saturday, June 1, 2013

VeggieTales Review: It's a Meaningful Life

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun story with a great message, new silly song
Cons: Christmas setting narrows the time to watch it
The Bottom Line:
Funny silly song
Reminder to be content
That's needed year round

"Every Time a Bell Rings, a Customer Gets His Wings."

Considering that VeggieTales has only released three Christmas episodes after close to 20 years of producing videos, I was surprised when I first heard about It's a Meaningful Life.  After all, they just did a third Christmas video last year.  But it's a delightful addition to the series.

As always, this straight to DVD series starring computer animated talking vegetables starts on the countertop.  Host Bob the Tomato isn't prepared for the episode because his plans are always interrupted by someone else, usually co-host Larry the Cucumber.  Fortunately, Larry comes through once again when they get a question from a girl who hasn't made the team and is upset.  Larry knows just the perfect story, and starts to tell it.

As the title suggests, our story is a takeoff of the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life.  Stewart (Larry the Cucumber) is ready to get out of his little town, and he is counting on catching the winning touchdown to help him do just that.  However, at the last second, he trips and someone else gets the glory.

Years later, Stewart is married to Donna (Petunia) and running his dad's toy train factory.  The factory, and the town, are having financial trouble, and if the factory doesn't make 2000 trains that night, Stewart will go bankrupt and lose everything to his high school rival.

When things go horribly wrong, Stewart finds himself wishing again that he'd caught that football.  And then a mysterious train appears to show him just what his life would be like.  Will he be better off in this alternative universe?

I must admit I've only see the Jimmy Stewart/Donna Reed classic a couple of times, and it's been years.  Even with my limited knowledge of that movie, I still picked up on several references, like the main characters' names and the quote I used for my review title (said in a restaurant that serves chicken wings).  I bet that those who love the original will find many more references.

The story works well for their theme of contentment, something I needed to hear right now.  They even include several good songs that remind us that God is at work in our lives for good even when our dreams get dashed.  It's not as heavy handed as it could have been, but the theme is very obvious even before we get to the Bible verse at the end.

Unlike the previous Christmas DVD's, this one is mainly Christmas because of the setting and the fact that they are spoofing a Christmas classic.  Frankly, I think it would have actually been stronger with a different time setting because then it could be watched year round.  After all, we need to remember to be content year round, not just in December.  (Or maybe that's just me.)

Part way through the story, we break for "Bedtime Songs with Junior Asparagus."  Yes, this is the latest silly song, and it's an instant classics.  Junior's Mom is trying to sing him to sleep, but as she leaves the room, he keeps asking her to come back and give him another toy to sleep with that night.  After the first verse or two, they start speeding up the song and singing over each other.  Again, nothing to do with Christmas, but the song is absolutely wonderful.

I certainly understand why this release was another Christmas release, but I wish it hadn't been.  It's a Meaningful Life is a great VeggieTales release with a Biblical reminder we need year round.

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