Friday, June 21, 2013

VeggieTales Review: The Little Drummer Boy

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Humor, good mix of characters
Cons: Lesson almost non-existent
The Bottom Line:
Classic Veggie laughs
But the lesson is too rushed
Good, could be better

VeggieTales Takes on the Classic Story of The Little Drummer Boy

The last few years, the guys behind VeggieTales have given us a new Christmas video every year.  This year's offering is The Little Drummer Boy.  Since I don't know much about the story except for the song, I don't know how close it sticks to any other versions of the story.  I found this one sad but compelling until the end.

Junior Asparagus has become obsessed with the drums, playing them all the time.  While his parents go out Christmas shopping, he is supposed to go caroling with his friends, but a mix up leaves him home with Grandpa (Pa Grape).  Mad at his friends, Junior intends to sulk, but Grandpa decides to tell him the story of the little drummer boy.

Back in the time of the Romans lived a little boy named Aaron (Junior again) who had a happy home life and a gift with a drum that could make animals dance.  When his family home is destroyed, he sets out with just the animals left, determined to live as isolated a life as possible.  Will he stay angry or will he have an encounter with the newborn king?

For much of this video, I felt like the old magic was back.  While they didn't use the countertop wrap around (the modern story with Junior filled in for that), I felt like they had some characters we hadn't seen in a while playing the roles they used to play.  The jokes weren't as plentiful as some episodes, but I laughed a few times, and one section with some Star Wars references had me dying.  This was the computer animated gang doing their best to entertain while imparting a lesson.

Of course, around this humor is a very sad story.  Aaron's story is tragic to begin with, and then how he is taken advantage of in the middle of the story really upsets as well.  In fact, it's easy to see why he was so bitter and angry.  I'm not sure how young kids will handle that part of the story.

I was expecting something big to happen that would illustrate forgiveness or help Aaron see why he needs to forgive those who have done him wrong.  Instead, after encountering the baby Jesus, he suddenly forgives.  I felt that a good chance to teach an important lesson was just brushed aside.  True, the Veggies tackled forgiveness years ago, but this lesson was so shallow it almost felt like an after thought, especially after the build up.  And that is disappointing.

There is a newish silly song here.  "The 8 Polish Foods of Christmas" originally appeared on a CD they released back in the mid-90's, but it has never been animated.  They've gone back and used that audio with new animation.  I've always loved the song, and the result is great.

VeggieTales take on The Little Drummer Boy is entertaining, but the weakened lesson is a wasted opportunity.

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