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Jonah – A VeggieTales Movie

****½

From the Cover

Get ready as Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber and the rest of the Veggie gang set sail on a whale of an adventure in Jonah, Big Idea’s first full-length, 3-D animated, feature film.  Filled with music, laughs and some of the silliest adventurers ever to be swallowed while, this is the story of Jonah and the whale as you’ve never seen it before– a story where everyone learns that one of the best gifts you can give– or get– is a second chance.

This movie is made up of two separate plot lines.  Rather than trying to cover both of them in sequence, I’m going to cover the plot lines separately.  Hopefully this makes sense.

Bob, Junior, Laura, and the Here and Now

The setup for the Bible story is a couple of fights that are going on in the van that Bob the Tomato is driving on the way to the Twippo concert.  In the midst of singing a song, Mr. Asparagus breaks the steering wheel off of the car because Bob’s looking at a map– and they end up off the road after a porcupine shoots out one of their tires.  In all the commotion, Laura the Carrot loses her backstage pass out the window.

When they all show up at a fish restaurant trying to find a way to still get to the concert– Junior and Laura are still fighting and Bob and Mr. Asparagus are feuding over whose job it was to do what and who to call first.

It is at this point that the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything hear the arguing at the table and decide to tell Junior and Laura the story of Jonah.  They are now the narrators for the Bible story– and only break in to underscore the importance of the lesson.

At the end of the Bible story, they ask the veggies “what have you learned today”– a take off of the ending countertop if there ever was one.  They then apply compassion and mercy directly to the two situations, and are greeted by Twippo, who offers to give them a ride to the concert and to sing a song for them right there.

Jonah, Veggie-style

Jonah gets the Veggie-style makeover.  He includes commandments like “don’t do drugs” and “stay in school” to hit the moral crowd.  Along with some of the other sins Nineveh was embroiled in is “slapping with fishes” and as Jonah flees he ends up having the Pirates as transportation to Tarsus.

At this point, we meet Khalil, a worm with an identity crisis.  Of course, instead of casting lots to find out why the storm is coming up, they have to play go fish.  (And the whale is one of the cards.)  There’s an amusing sequence where the whale takes the boat for a ride after they’ve tried to save him.

Inside the whale hasn’t changed since Pinocchio in that there’s still the small boat, it’s cavernous, and there’s room for 100 angels (give or take a few).  They get Jonah to realize that God is a God of second chances, and he’s sent back to Nineveh.

Once there, he finds that he can’t get in without the help of the pirates, who think they are folk heroes for winning a contest, but find themselves (conveniently) in front of the whole city on accounts that they stole some cheese curls.

Jonah gets them to listen to him because he’s been inside a whale and lived to tell about it (the Ninevites worship the fish).  They repent, and he leaves and finds a nice spot to watch God destroy the place.

Only that’s not what God does.  And Big Idea uses Khalil as the voice of God to tell Jonah how absurd it is to be so bent out of shape that his weed died, but to desire that the whole city be destroyed.

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Jonah was a Prophet

This is by far one of the most catchy tunes from the movie that actually carries the whole message.  (The other being Second Chances).  I don’t know how many times my kids have sung “Jonah was a Prophet, Ooo ooo.”

from Jonah – A VeggieTales Movie

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What I Learned from Jonah

Jonah – A VeggieTales Movie was my first VeggieTales episode I ever saw.  It was back when Penny Peach and I first got married, and we knew that we wanted little fruits and veggies of our own, and the idea of cartoons that had godly lessons in them really sounded interesting.  Of course we watched it before we had our little garden, and the thing that impressed me most– especially after watching the commentary disc– was the fact that they didn’t end the story at the Ninevite’s repentance– where most stories end it.

You see, repentance is a great thing, and we shouldn’t overlook it, but this story was about more than just God’s message to Israel’s enemy.  It was also about God’s love, compassion and mercy towards Jonah.

Jonah, you see, responds a lot like us every day.  We know exactly what God wants us to do– it’s in His Word which we all have like 5 copies of (even if two are collecting dust, and one’s the interlinear and the other is in King James which is hard for you to read).  We know His commands, but like Jonah we choose to go the other way, to do the other thing, and then when trials come we know that it’s because we disobeyed, but we’re still reluctant to do the right thing– or we do so because we “have to”.

Jonah really is the Christian’s story.  It’s one of mercy towards us, because we have a mission to share the Gospel, but how many of us are fulfilling this mission where we are every day?

How many of us are ready for the fire and brimstone, because we know that “no one will repent” and even if they do, they’re still bad.  What a sad commentary of Christianity– and what a challenge to us!

Why The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything Poses a Problem

I’m not sure what the current total as far as viewers for the new movie, but when I last checked it did not seem to be doing as well as Jonah, and I have a hunch as to why.

VeggieTales has an unique problem– one that other cartoons do not have– in its original audience base.  It made it big by being a Christian alternative to other cartoons, distributed via Christian bookstores on videocassette.  Its apex was Jonah– a Bible story told by Vegetables that appealed to its base.

You see, for as much time as Phil Vischer or I spend telling everyone that VeggieTales is more than just Bible stories (it’s about half Bible stories half parodies), that’s not the impression of those that actually buy the videos.  The Christian base believes that it is mostly Bible stories (if not all Bible stories) even if they’ve seen the episodes that mimic Gilligan’s Island, Indiana Jones, or Rocky.

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