[Screen It]


(2008) (voices of Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki) (G)

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Animated Comedy: A trio of dinner theater workers tries to decide if they're heroes when they're magically transported back to the 17th century and are mistaken for pirates as they attempt to rescue a princess from her nefarious uncle, a real pirate.
Elliot (voice of MIKE NAWROCKI), George (voice of PHIL VISCHER) and Sedgewick (voice of PHIL VISCHER) are armless and legless vegetables that work as "cabin boys" at a pirate-themed dinner theater show. While they long to be performers in it, they're relegated to being the wait staff.

Unbeknownst to them, a 17th century princess, Eloise (voice of LAURA GEROW), has sent a mechanical/magical "help seeker" ball into her future (their present) looking for heroes. It seems her uncle, Robert the Terrible (voice of CAM CLARKE), wants to take over the monarchy while Eloise and her brother Alexander's (voice of YURI LOWENTHAL) father is off sailing the high seas.

Having already kidnapped Alexander, Robert the Terrible now wants Eloise, and with only her trusty butler, Willory (voice of PHIL VISCHER), helping her elude capture, she needs reinforcements. As they're still dressed in their dinner show garb, Elliot, George and Sedgewick are mistaken for real pirates, but they're not so sure they're cut out to be heroes.

Nevertheless, when they learn of Eloise's plight, they agree to help -- albeit in different stages -- even after learning of Robert the Terrible's reputation as a notorious and very real pirate.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
As many a parent can attest, it's hard enough to get younger kids to try different foods, and that's particularly true when it comes to their first serving of vegetables. Of course, many of them eventually come around to eating and even liking them, although reheated leftovers are another matter altogether.

While involving a different sort of taste, the folks at Big Idea didn't have as much of a problem getting kids to like their different offering of vegetables. Of course, theirs were of the computer-generated variety, and they populated comedy videos that mixed Biblical tales and messages with a lively story, Monty Python type humor and fun musical numbers. They then followed that up in 2002 with "Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie," a big screen version of the same that went on to become a moderate-sized success.

Now, three of the characters from that film have been served up for a second helping of armless, legless vegetables in "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie." Unfortunately, rather than being crisp and appetizing to kids and adults like the first time around, this one feels far soggier and listless despite initially appearing like just another serving of what viewers consumed before.

While young kids and those with an appetite for the VeggieTales universe might eat this up, there's little here to satiate older kids or especially adults (despite the obligatory cultural references to the Love Boat, Edward Scissorhands and, of all things, Scarface and its oft-repeated line, "Say hello to my little friend" - albeit not quite in the same context here).

I was fairly shocked to go back and read my review for the first film. It's possible the material was that good, or that I was just in an unusually happy and/or more accepting mood for what was offered and thus cut it some (or a lot) of slack. Then again, perhaps I was suffering from a fever of some sort and/or this second big-screen installment has dropped in comparative quality as it simply didn't elicit anything resembling the same sort of positive reaction I had the first go-round.

In fact, and despite a lot of things occurring up on the screen (as the titular characters experience all sorts of travails in a number of "exotic" locales), those not enamored with this universe will have plenty of time to ponder how these characters hold their pirate swords sans any semblance of arms, hands or the like. In fact, anything that's "grasped" or "carried" simply floats nearby the possessor.

I know, I realize it's more than a little nitpicky to criticize such matters when we're dealing with talking and mobile vegetables (without legs, they're forced to bounce along). And the younger the kid and the bigger a fan they are of this particular little industry, the more they'll probably enjoy this offering.

Yet, the flat humor, mediocre action and adventure, and blasť story -- all courtesy of the returning directing and writing duo of Mike Nawrocki and Phil Vischer, (who also voice many of the characters) -- didn't otherwise hold my interest to any appreciable extent and simply isn't as tasty as the first serving. Accordingly, "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie" rates as a 4 out of 10 simply for being a relatively inoffensive diversion for the little ones.

Reviewed January 7, 2008 / Posted January 11, 2008

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