The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie

Movie Information

The Story: Three misfits -- a cucumber, a gourd and a grape -- must rescue a princess and foil a plot to murder a king. The Lowdown: Low-grade animation and simplistic plotting meet with incredibly dull, if harmless, results.
Score:

Genre: Morally Sound Animation
Director: Mike Nawrocki
Starring: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Cam Clarke, Yuri Lowenthal
Rated: G

The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything most assuredly do not. In any case, they don’t do anything interesting. I suppose I might feel differently if I were 4 years old, but the movie arrives on the scene about 49 years too late to test that theory, and my memories of being that age are somewhat spotty. (Well, my fourth birthday party was definitely a high point—one that no subsequent birthday festivity has ever measured up to.) Regardless, this second VeggieTales theatrical feature was tough sledding. I kept hoping someone would arrive on the scene with a Veg-O-Matic and put a stop to it.

Frankly, the whole VeggieTales enterprise is a little baffling to me. Yes, I understand that these are morally upright, faith-based produce, even if this latest offering lightens the religiosity of their first theatrical outing, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (2002). And I get the basic concept that all the characters are strangely ambulatory vegetation.

The method of locomotion is hopping, since, as we all know, vegetables haven’t any legs. I’m not sure why that’s much of a consideration in a cartoon, unless they thought legs would make the whole thing unbelievable. It’s also a strange consideration, since we’re meant to take it on faith (I guess) that these refugees from a chef’s salad are capable of wielding a cutlass, steering a ship, and generally doing things for which one arm would seem to be the bare requisite. The items they brandish, however, just sort of hover in mid-air as though held aloft by telekinetic powers. Granting this, there’s an internal logic question of why the villain of the piece, Robert the Terrible (Cam Clarke), has bothered mastering the “mechanical arts” to fashion gimcrack arms and legs. Not only do these makeshift prosthetics gain him no advantage, they’re just extra appendages to knock off. I don’t suppose it really matters. After all, the exact kinds of vegetables that appear in the movie seem a bit up in the air.

Some of the legumes have useful names like “Larry the Cucumber,” which helps to clue you in, and the asparagus is pretty obvious, but otherwise I’ve no clue what most of these characters are supposed to be. All the sailors resemble hot dogs wearing striped shirts. Perhaps they’re parsnips with jaundice, or carrots with a vitamin deficiency. Our three heroes, in any case, are (I’m told) a cucumber, a gourd and an unusually large grape (OK, these are all fruits, not veggies), who are “chosen” to rescue a princess (possibly a green bean with a bosom?) and thwart Robert the Terrible’s plan to kill off “The King” (also voiced by Cam Clarke) and usurp the throne. This the largely unwilling fellows do with the aid of something that bears a startling resemblance to the Golden Compass, and they’re rewarded with self-confidence and medals (à la the Wizard of Oz) by the grateful monarch, who was simply testing them all along.

Presumably, this is kind of a Lucifer-vs.-God thing with songs and sketchy animation. I really do question the thought process behind likening God to the Wizard of Oz. I mean, God is, well, God, and the Wizard of Oz is the most beloved humbug of popular fiction. Surely, this can’t be the desired message. All the same, small children will probably love it, even if their elders may be dreaming of a nice mixed green salad before the proceedings are mere minutes old. Rated G

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

4 thoughts on “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie

  1. Ken Hanke

    Movies like this often find me asking Mr. Souther, “Tell me again why I wanted this job?”

    Really, it’s a trade-off — and in all honesty, a lot of people read the column for reviews like this and IN THE NAME OF THE KING. Some undoubtedly just like to see me suffer.

  2. Steve

    I confess, I do love the reviews on the stinkers. Not because I like to see you suffer (although I guess there is a tiny bit of schadenfreude in knowing that even your dream job has drawbacks), just because they’re usually funnier and more entertaining to read.

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