Sunday, June 9, 2013

VeggieTales Review: 'Twas the Night Before Easter

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Entertaining Story
Cons: Theme is weak and not part of the story
The Bottom Line
Fun Veggie story
But Easter deserves better
Not one of their best

VeggieTales' Second Look at Easter is Sadly Disappointing

When I heard that VeggieTales was going to do a second Easter video, I was thrilled.  Not only do I love these computer animated veggies even if I am out of the young kid target range, but their first Easter video is one of my all time favorites.  Maybe that raised my expectations too high, but I found 'Twas the Night Before Easter to be sadly disappointing.

The story focuses on Marlee Meade (played by Petunia Rhubarb), a young reporter in Crisper County who is tired of the veggie interest fluff pieces she normally does.  She quits her job to revitalize the local theater.  Teaming up with her cameraman/writer (played by Larry the Cucumber), she decided to put on a new musical "Up with Bunnies."  It will premier right before Easter and use musical theater to spread hope to others.

Then she learns that local girl made good Cassie Cassava (voiced by American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle), winner of the popular show Americans have British Judges is going to be in town to sing at her home church on Easter Sunday.  Marlee knows that if she can get Cassie to perform during opening night, she'll reach a wider audience.  Can she do it?  Will that really help the community?

Now, this video does have some good things going for it.  Although I watch very few of the reality talent shows, I still got most of the references they made to them in this show, and I loved them.  In fact, the jokes were plentiful in this video, and I laughed several times.  They also brought back the classic songs "Lost Puppies" and "The Bunny Song," which will please long time fans.  As always the animation is fine.  It's not big screen quality, but it makes great use of their smaller budget.  There's a new silly song, or should I say "Dance Craze with Philippe and Jean-Claude" that was very funny.

However, they dropped the ball when it comes to the theme of the episode.  I don't have a problem with what they tried to teach, that we are called to serve others.  I can see how it could be tied to Easter since that is what Jesus did when He died for us - He served us.  But, that theme was shoehorned into the story, mostly at the final wrap up with Bob and Larry.  Honestly, if I watched this without paying too much attention, I would have thought this was another Easter video about bunnies.  That's not what I watch VeggieTales to see.  I expect them to have a strong theme that weaves itself through the entire episode.  Furthermore, they could have done this theme with any story and not tried to tie it to Easter.  I was expecting more about what Easter is all about, and that hardly got a mention.

Plus they've already done the theater production plot at least once, and I think twice.  It definitely felt recycled.

Maybe An Easter Carol was strong enough and they shouldn't have tried again.  Or maybe they needed another pass at the script to make their themes actually a part of the story and not just tacked on to a fun ride.  'Twas the Night Before Easter certainly is enjoyable, but I really do expect more from Big Idea.

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