The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
As I've watched countless VeggieTales videos, their first film Jonah, and now The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, I've noticed similarities between this series and my favorite franchise as a kid, The Muppets. Both utilize a pool of diverse and established characters (sometimes they're themselves, sometimes they're "acting"). Both are aimed at kids—but wisely and slyly witty enough for adults. And both alternate between retelling known stories and living out original adventures.
While I enjoy all the Muppet movies, I prefer the original stories like The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper. These adventures allow for more creativity, greater freedom and in general, more room for the zany characters to go bananas. After all, you don't have as much story freedom when you're retelling a well-known story—especially, perhaps, a Bible story. And though VeggieTales always found fun but reverent ways to retell its biblical tales, Pirates is proof that the freedom of an original story can lend fun and creativity to the mix.
Besides, Pirates really isn't much of a story-telling departure for VeggieTales. Only about half of the VeggieTales videos are retold Bible stories; the others are parables and parodies. However, as VeggieTales co-creator and Pirates screenwriter Phil Vischer has said, it's the first time he's based a story solely on the personalities of characters. It was a smart move. After all, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (played by VeggieTale mainstays Larry the Cucumber, Mr. Lunt and Grandpa Grape) are arguably the most popular of the VeggieTales alter egos—except for maybe Larry's superhero character Larry Boy. In giving them their own movie, Vischer fleshes out these couch-potato pirates and creates a VeggieTales-worthy parable of the Christian life while he's at it.
The story begins with a battle at sea. The dreaded pirate Robert the Terrible, a veggie who has given himself mechanical arms and legs, is attacking a peaceful ship carrying two young veggies, Alexander and Eloise. Robert, the kids' power-hungry uncle, hopes to get rid of the rightful heirs to his brothers' throne. When Alexander is captured, Eloise turns to an invention from her father: a Help Seeker. She turns it on with the hope it will send her heroes. What it actually brings her are The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, three flawed bus boys from a pirate-themed dinner theatre in the future. Her advisor—and the bus boys themselves—is not too sure about this. But Eloise says: "I trust them because I trust my father."
The fake pirates mean well but have character issues that keep them from their dreams. Elliot (Larry the Cucumber) is scared of just about everything. Sedgewick (Mr. Lunt) is terribly lazy. And George (Grandpa Grape) buys into the idea that he's only a loser who will never measure up to "real" heroes. When whisked away in a magical rowboat to help Eloise, they're sure they don't have what it takes. But when they eventually meet the King, he assures them he made no mistake in selecting them. "The adventure I call you to may not be easy," the King says. "But you are never alone. The hero is the one who does what's right—no matter how hard it is."