January 17, 2008 | Comments ()

By Agent Bedhead | Film | January 17, 2008 |


O Cucumber of my soul
Our Father, the King, when I witness your Sword
Something in this Ship of Fools just won’t stop
I know your Asparagus watches over me

Holy crap. Between this movie and First Sunday, it feels like I’ve had a double shot of Jesus Juice this week. Besides the fact that I want to get all high on life and shit, this experience hasn’t been nearly as bad as you’d think. In fact, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything just might present a perfect antidote to the whole Captivity madness, for if any film should contain a pureed-organ smoothie scene, it would have to be one where the characters consist of mostly vegetables. In addition, this film presented an unparalleled opportunity to witness swashbuckling vegetables with a moral conscience. These anthropomorphic globules, who by their own admissions are actually fruits, share their knowledge of world-class philosophy and, most importantly, their blind faith. As a follow-up to direct-to-video pieces of crap as well as Jonah, 2002’s rather aggressive exploration of Old Testament lore, we receive the newest installment of the VeggieTales franchise, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. This is the first VeggieTales film brought to you not only by the evangelists at Big Idea but also by Universal Pictures, so the message within takes the form of a parable instead of the direct method of preaching. This allows the kiddies to enjoy subliminal morality, while their bored parents doze.

It’s somewhat surprising that the VeggieTales have taken a turn towards the watered-down mainstream in this seaward tale, which may in fact piss off some of the hardcore Bible-inspired parents out there. In fact, I am stunned at the audacity of the filmmakers to pretty much alienate their target audience by tossing out a loosely-framed canned tale that contains about as much spirituality as a single bean sprout. Until now, VeggieTales has been pretty much a two-man operation and it remains mostly so. The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything is directed by Mike Nawrocki and written by Phil Vischer and co-produced by both. In addition, most of the voice work is done by Nawrocki and Vischer as well. However, the influence of a major film studio is pretty obvious — not only because the message within The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything has been subdued, but also because the visuals are anything but muted. Instead of the formerly 3D-plasticky look of the series, this movie is awash with the vibrant blues of the sea and the warm colors of sandy beaches. The script, however, could have used some fortification, for even talking vegetables should have more substance to work with. Instead, the film lingers through many unnecessary regurgative scenes, eventually teaching that a true hero isn’t necessarily someone who is physically strong and abundantly courageous. Essentially, it’s not the size of your cutlass sword, but rather, what you do with that sword, ya dig?

The atypical heroes of this film are three regular VeggieTales characters who step into the roles of “cabin boys” (busboys); they work at a pirate-themed dinner-theater restaurant that serves, um, vegetables. Larry the Cucumber appears as Elliot, Mr. Lunt (a gourd) plays Sedgwick, and Pa Grape rolls in as George. All three of the friends are yearning for vegetable stardom in the restaurant’s pirate production, but after a non-seasoned audition, these losers are told that they’re not hero material. Their shortcomings are rather obvious — Elliot has no courage, Sedgwick lacks motivation, and George doesn’t think he’s worth a shit — and lend the meaning to the film’s title. Meanwhile, a 17th century ship owned by two leeks, the good Princess Eloise (Laura Gerow) and her wimpy brother Alexander (Yuri Lowenthal), is pillaged by the dread pirate, Robert the Terrible (Cam Clarke), who takes Alexander as a hostage. Then, Eloise and her butler, Willory, send a magical device (crafted by “our Father, the King”) to find heroes to rescue them. We don’t know much about Eloise, but as in all rescue stories, the victim is the least significant of all the characters. All we know is that Eloise is good, and that’s all that matters. Of course, the hero-finder snatches up the wrong guys, Elliot, Sedgwick, and George, to rescue and defend the righteous Kingdom. It’s pretty damn lame as a storyline, and if I said more, it would give the rest of the sparse plot away, but the Biblical parallels aren’t difficult to conjure up.

A few slightly interesting characters appear during the course of the threadbare adventure. Ferocious killer cheese curls and rock monsters, both of which seem borrowed from a Japanese anime film, attempt to kick the heroes’ nonexistent asses. In addition, allusions are made both to Edward Scissorhands and Scarface, the latter of which was pretty bizarre in the context of a Christian morality tale. Also disorienting are the lack of arms and legs on most of the veggie characters, who hop instead of walking as well as row boats and clash swords with only the aid of “ghost” limbs. Hell, I guess the suspension of disbelief for this weirdness is a test of one’s faith, which is a scary enough proposition if you really think about it, so please don’t. This VeggieTales movie probably won’t interest anyone who either isn’t of preschool age or hasn’t been ingesting special brownies. This film is suitable for those looking to occupy a young child who adores pirates but is too young for the violence of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. While the movie is completely wholesome and a good diversion, there really isn’t much story at all. I think that the average 22-minute episode of “Dora the Explorer” offers more lessons and entertainment value than this 88-minute feature film. If you simply must see this film, then wait for the damn DVD — just don’t tell me about it, or I may show up on your doorstep with a jug of Jesus Juice.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and will see you in hell. In the meantime, she can be found at agentbedhead.com.

I Should've Had a Motherfucking V8

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie / Agent Bedhead

Film | January 17, 2008 | Comments ()



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