Big Idea // 2006 // 44 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 13th, 2006
Tuba or not tuba. (Cha-ching!)
The Big Idea boys are back with their end-of-the-year show, a retelling of the Gideon story from the Old Testament with the usual produce twist.
As is the game plan with these Veggie Tales releases, each program is tagged with a theme and the story or stories feed into it. For Gideon: Tuba Warrior the lesson is "Trusting God." The show kicks off of with a nod to the forthcoming Big Idea feature film The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. In a subtle plug, the titular pirates stop by to introduce the stories and jaw a bit with Larry the Cucumber. Transparent marketing, sure, but a fun change of pace.
The first story is a brief Veggie-telling of George Mueller, a real-life evangelist who opened orphanages in England. Here we meet Mueller who explains his strategy of trusting God and praying for needs to a skeptical reporter. Story number two is the main narrative, focusing on Gideon, a tuba player for the Hebrew nation who's selected by God to lead the charge against the invading Midianites. He's reluctant, demands tests from the diminutive angel sent to enlist his service and eventually selects a crack squad of marching band members -- armed with flashlights -- to repel the enemy nations, and put their zucchinis to the sword.
Big Idea has earned a reputation for outputting clever, well-produced children's entertainment with Biblical morals and this release shows why. It flaunts all the best elements that have made the Veggie Tales series so hugely popular: vibrant, attractive computer generated animation, witty dialogue and a light, infectious tone. Add that to the very up front Biblical principles espoused by the talking cucumbers and asparaguses and it's not hard to see why the series has become beloved by people of faith, as well as the mainstream.
Gideon delivers on the Veggie Tales promise. While the first story, the George Mueller telling, is more or less a straightforward Sunday school lesson about prayer and faith, the Gideon story nails the ingredients of a memorable Veggie production. Larry the Cucumber (voiced by Mike Nawrocki) is his typical hapless self, just dolled up in marching band colors, but his shtick fits well with the feel of the story (quick recap for those of you that snoozed through this lesson in Sunday school: Gideon was a regular guy, called by God to defeat the invading Midianites using a small band of Israelites). Here, the Midianites are characterized as hairy pickles (I don't want to know) who daily display their fearsome strength. Gideon, skeptical that God really is calling him to stand up to these guys, puts Yahweh through some tests, pulled off with the aid of some nice wry commentary by the Angel of the Lord (a guava or something).
The story allows for some fun to be had, as the Israelites (played here by peas) are sorted not by gulping water with their hands (as in the story) but drinking Slurpees. And instead of massacring the Midianites, the assembled Hebrew/Vegetable defenders pull off a complex drum routine, sending the invaders scurrying back into the wilderness. Along the way there are a lot of subtle gags that should please adults (my favorite: a radio station dedicating songs to "invading hordes") and a lot of unsubtle ones to float the kiddies' boats. And, bonus, Bob the Tomato scores with a rare Silly Song appearance: "Ukulele Karaoke with Bob." Overall, another solid offering from Big Idea.
And, as is typical, another solid DVD presentation. Though a widescreen treatment would have been appreciated, the full frame video looks very nice: bright, solidly colored and crisply detailed. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is well-mixed, too, taking advantage of the discrete channels.
A grocery cart full of extras: "Making at Tuba Warrior," a behind-the-scenes look, a featurette on "A Real Drum Line," commentary with the cast and crew, an art gallery with artists' commentary, games, trivia, singalongs, and a storybook. And, best of all, no bagged spinach!
It's Veggie Tales. Funny, Biblically-based (but not preachy), and a joy to look at. This Tuba Warrior does not blow.
Not guilty. And vitamin-rich!
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Big Idea
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 44 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Studio Commentary
* "Making a Tuba Warrior" Featurette
* Art Gallery
* "A Real Drum Line"
* How to Draw
* Family Activity
* Video Trivia
* Interactive Storybook
* Tuba Mix Panel
* Music Game
* Bonus Clips
* DVD-ROM Content