Directed by Mike Nawrocki. 85 minutes. DVD. Universal Studios. 2008. $ 9.99 ISBN 000013830397
Recommended for ages 2-8
VeggieTales is an American series of computer animated family movies featuring anthropomorphic vegetables. The stories convey moral themes; many retell Bible stories. The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything was the first VeggieTales movie released theatrically through Universal Studios. Taking place between the late 17th century and the present, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything follows Veggie characters Elliot, George, and Sedgewick (“played” by popular Veggie characters Larry the Cucumber, Pa Grape, and Mr. Lunt, the Gourd). Working as servers in a pirate-themed restaurant, they wish they could be heroes rather than cabin boys; after they discover a “Helpseeker” sent back in time by Princess Eloise, they are transported back in time, where they become actual heroes and learn that being heroic has nothing to do with how someone looks, but in his or her actions.
The computer animation is well done. The VeggieTales franchise has been around since the 1990s; creators Mike Nawrocki, who voices main characters George, Sedgewick and Bob the Tomato , and Phil Vischer, who voices main character Elliot – have built a successful book, movie and merchandising business, and reinvest money into it to keep it fresh and well-produced. The animation is rife with bright primary colors, and the Veggies themselves have expressive face with large eyes. The movie stumbles with its dialogue, which, while delivering an honorable message, does so with lackluster dialogue. The pacing is also a problem; the movie tends to drag as characters get caught up in dialogue over action, which may lose young viewers’ attention. It can also be confusing to those viewers new to VeggieTales that the characters are “acting”, and therefore playing other characters.
The movie’s positive message and popular characters make it a good choice for a movie day or evening at the library. The tone of the film is relentlessly positive; when the characters are feeling down, they lift one another up and always look for the bright side. The villains are never truly scary or horrible; they appear goofy more than anything else. A viewing, with a discussion about what makes people heroes, and how actions speak louder than words or appearances, would be a good way to communicate the values demonstrated in the movie. The VeggieTales webpage provides free downloadable printables that viewers can color and take home.