Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie

The VeggieTales are a phenomenon in the Christian market, and to this point virtually unknown everywhere else. They are the brainchild of Mike Nawrocki and Phil Vischer, who use computer-animated talking vegetables to teach children Biblical lessons in an amusing fashion. Nawrocki and Vischer are self-described fans of Monty Python, and some of that absurdist and subversive humor pops up in their various videos, in a completely wholesome manner of course. Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie is their first foray into the secular world, and the movie manages to retain nearly everything from the videos from the animation, humor, enjoyment, and teaching. There is a decent amount of appeal for non-Christians, as long as they are small children. Adults will most like find Jonah a tad on the annoying side.

The story is familiar; God instructs his prophet Jonah to visit the land of Nineveh and tell them that they are sinning. Here, they are mean, nasty, and slap each other and everybody else with fishes. Jonah refuses, and runs in the other direction. Here, he enlists the help of a trio of vegetables calling themselves the Pirates who don't do anything. God punishes them by with a storm, and in the end, Jonah realizes what he is doing is wrong and goes to Nineveh.Nawrocki and Vischer wrote and directed the movie, and they also supply a large number of the voices. They frame the Jonah story with a story involving the familiar veggies Archibald Asparagus and Bob the Tomato. Archibald and Bob are taking some kids to a Twippo concert when their car breaks down and they meet the pirates in a seafood restaurant. Nobody is happy, and the pirates relate to them Jonah's story in order to give them all a better sense of appreciation.

The message is a little strong and the movie drags in places, but Nawrocki and Vischer tell it in such a way that while it does focus on God, the brunt of the lesson is to be compassionate and merciful. Some of the musical numbers could go away, but these are the things the small kids will enjoy the most (and the things that will annoy adults the most). The most ironic thing is that in terms of Christian movies, Jonah is by far the one of highest quality, even though it arguably has the lowest aspirations and its target demographic is young children. Most of these horrendous films try to hide their message, where Jonah basks in it. It is proud to be a religious movie, and wants everybody to know it.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 25 minutes, Rated G.

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