Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 05/02/04 12:44:16

"Christian dogma posing as free-spirited children's animation."
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

"I'd like 4 children's tickets for ridiculous religious brainwashing please."

OK, maybe that's a bit harsh. Seeing as I'm a 31-year-old Jewish cynic from Philadelphia, it's plainly obvious that I am not the intended audience for Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. As I'm naturally turned off by any sort of children's programming that espouses antiquated and arcane religious dogma, I suppose this flick already had two strikes coming to the plate.

But much like the Veggie characters in this movie, I know the importance of both compassion and mercy (two nouns repeated ad nauseum throughout this limp and meandering chore) - and I'd wager that the well-meaning bible-thumpers responsible for this flick would say something like "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" - so here goes:

Errr. The CGI animation is suitably slick-looking and colorful? That's as nice as I can be.

The flick follows a crew of biblical-age vegetables who revisit the tale of Jonah, here an asparagus stalk suffering from a loss of faith in God's command. Ordered to visit the decidedly unholy town of Nineveh, Jonah opts instead to hightail it in the opposite direction. Along with some veggie pirates and an Arab worm, he ends up in the belly of the whale before realizing how great God is and all that happy stuff.

I'm not exactly sure what to make of a flick that features a song about "God's Word" and includes lyrics like "Don't do drugs; stay in school" but I'm pretty sure there's nothing about crack cocaine mentioned in the Bible. Yes, if you're the sort who considers Ned Flanders a role model then you may want to pick this banal and listless video up for your kids - but don't be surprised if this one gets left in mothballs while Toy Story stays a family favorite forever.

Religious silliness aside; this could be a kid's flick about killer robots and mechanical dinosaurs and I'd still have trouble recommending something so blandly written, drably presented and irritatingly performed. (The voice acting in Jonah ranks among some of the least appealing I've ever heard.) Throw all that subtly creepy Televangelist schpiel on top of such an uninspired kiddie flick and you're looking at an 82-minute sensory irritant of the highest order.

Like I said earlier: clearly this stuff isn't meant for someone like me. But I know a feature-length advertisement when I see one.

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