Do you like to sing along with Larry? Do you fear the Island of Perpetual Tickling? Ever received bad advice from Fibrilious Minimus, the Fib from Outer Space? If so, chances are that you don't need an introduction to VeggieTales, the immensely popular series of Christian family videos in which talking cartoon veggies act out Bible stories, sing silly songs, and teach valuable moral lessons to children.
Big Idea Productions has at long last brought their nutritious heroes to the big screen. Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie is the franchise's first feature film, a $12 million dollar production filled with that unique Veggie humor that recalls both Monty Python and The Muppet Show. It boasts a spirited soundtrack that features a show-stopping gospel number set in the belly of the whale. And the message—that God is a God not of judgment, but of "second chances"—is clear.
So, now that these garden-variety personalities have hit the big time, how are mainstream critics responding? Fairly well.
"The religious component … is substantial but not excessively didactic," says Claudia Puig (USA Today). "The comedy is funnier than might be expected from art that preaches. The main lessons Jonah attempts to teach are compassion and mercy. That's an unusual—and welcome—message these days."
Kenneth Turan (L.A. Times) calls it "a pleasant surprise … playful, high-spirited and unmistakably amusing. It's nice to see that a sense of humor and a sense of values don't inevitably have to cancel each other out." He especially applauds "The Credit Song" … "which bemoans the fact that songs under the credits never have anything to do with the movie just seen. Even atheists can smile at that one, and, to a surprising extent, at the rest of Jonah as well."