Judge David Johnson likes to eat carrots—especially when they talk.
Talking broccoli prompted my spiritual awakening.
The crew at Big Idea unleashes their newest Veggie Tales adventure, the long-awaited return of LarryBoy, the brand's flagship superhero and his grappling with nefarious siren, "temptation." A tasty treat or roughage?
Facts of the Case
Everything seemed to be going okay for LarryBoy (voiced by Mike Nawrocki). He was saving people and keeping the city safe and generally doing his superhero thing—but he's got a problem. It's an addiction to chocolate, a temptation he is powerless to say no to. His loyal butler, Alfred, forces him to get in shape and turn into the superhero God wants him to be. And he can't fight crime as FatBoy.
In a bit of bad timing, the newest supervillain, Temptation the Bad Apple, moseys into town, intent on trapping all the unsuspecting resident sin her web of impulse-driven satisfaction. Be it food, or money, or video games, this girl can ensnare anyone. It will then fall to LarryBoy to somehow repel her seductive advances of chocolate decadence, and learn an important moral about moderation.
Hey, I'll admit it, I get a kick out of the veggies. A God-fearing brother like myself appreciates Christian entertainment that actually, you know, entertains. I've seen lots of lame crap coming from the Bible-based community, which is why a VeggieTales disc is always so refreshing. The folks at Big Idea know how to tell a story. The Biblical values are still, there, sure, but it's all buttressed by top-shelf talent.
Unfortunately, the last VT release, Sheerluck and the Golden Ruler failed to groove me and I though it was one of the clunkier VeggieTales flicks I'd seen. I am pleased to report that this release sees the greens back in fine form. LarryBoy and the Bad Apple is not a homerun, but it boasts everything I like about the series: fun writing, a solid message, great visuals and charm.
LarryBoy is one of Big Idea's go-to characters. He was so popular, in fact, he got his own 2D spin-off series, but it's been a long hiatus for LarryBoy in the 3D realm. The character is trademark VeggieTales, goofy and funny and wholly inoffensive. He's a Spiderman/Batman amalgam, driving around in his plunger-wheeled car, swinging from rooftop to rooftop using his super head-plungers, and hanging out in his lair talking to his butler.
Too bad the parody stops short here. This is what I ultimately found lacking, the usual spot-on spoofs these guys are able to pull off. The recent Lord of the Beans, a take-off on Lord of the Rings, was a grand exercise in lovingly harpooning other works, rife with plenty of nods to the film and its fans. LarryBoy and the Bad Apple played around with the genre conventions of superhero movies, but refrained from more specific parody. That's probably not a huge deal and may just be limited to what I enjoy about these shows, but it would have been nice to see the filmmakers play towards one of their major strengths a little more, especially with LarryBoy, a premise that is primed for it.
Still, it's a good 46 minutes and I wouldn't dissuade any of Big Idea's many fans from picking it up. If you're looking for quality Bible-based kids entertainment that clearly projects morals, but is rarely preachy, Big Idea might have what you want. Welcome back LarryBoy; your adventures are always welcome.
These discs are always well put together. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks great, really supporting the bright, vivid colors of the animation. On-screen mayhem is well-supported by an active 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, which makes surprisingly effective use of the discrete channels. Lots of extras, too, highlighted by a studio commentary with the filmmakers, a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes and a load of games, puzzles and activities.
VeggieTales is pretty great in my book. I don't have a title for it yet, but there's definitely a chapter devoted to how much I like Big Idea's animated, value-laden mini-movies. LarryBoy and the Bad Apple brings back a popular character and represents a very nice bounce-back from an iffy previous release. The DVD presentation is top-notch as usual.
Mmmm, delicious. And nutritious!
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