In our love-hate relationship with movies, many evangelicals dream of a magic bullet: the one film that will make Hollywood moguls pay attention to us. The team at Big Idea Productions has taken a different approach, gradually building a loyal audience while retaining creative control (see "The Top Tomato," p. 94). It now can deal with Hollywood from a leverage point of commercial success.
Jonah should be a breakthrough film. It has the family-friendly worldview of the VeggieTales video series, color-rich and crisp cgi animation, and enough pop-culture references (Jaws, Saturday Night Fever, a Raffi-style children's singer) to keep adults laughing.
Consider the opening sequence, which sets the stage for this retelling of Jonah's reluctant journey to Nineveh. It lampoons sing-along songs ("Billy Joe McGuffrey" is as cheerily repetitive as "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall") and includes as many pratfalls as a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Character development is not this film's great strength, and some could dispute whether Archibald Asparagus is the best choice to play Jonah. Archibald, with his high-pitched voice and British accent, is less believable as a prophet than as the whiner Jonah becomes when the Ninevites repent.
Audience favorite Larry the Cucumber steals his scenes as one of three "Pirates Who Don't Do Anything," as their lethargic theme song expresses it. Larry's attachment to his rubber-duck life preserver provides subtle comic relief after Jonah is swallowed by a whale.
Khalil the Wise Caterpillar
A new character, Khalil, is a Middle Eastern caterpillar (complete with turban and bushy mustache) who enjoys some of the funniest lines and delivers the film's central lessons. Developing this character is a bold choice in post-9/11 ...1