Nov 24, 2014

Review: VeggieTales: Are You My Neighbor? (1995)

I don't know why I do this to myself. Every time I get ready to watch a VeggieTales movie, I have to mentally prep myself for thirty minutes of torture. I get ready to face the opener with my two least favourite vegetable hosts, Bob the Tomato and the Larry the idiot Cucumber. The thing is, I've been holding off on seeing more VeggieTales for too long and it's about time I get back on track. It's just really disconcerting to know that I have an exceedingly long road of singing vegetables ahead of me.


Genre: animation, short, family
Directed by: Phil Vischer
Produced by: Phil Vischer
Written by: Phil Vischer
Music by: Kurt Heinecke, Phil Vischer
Running time: 30 minutes
Production company: Big Idea Entertainment, Big Idea Productions
Distributed by: Lyrick Studios Video
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Dan Anderson, Lisa Vischer, G. Bock, Jim Poole, Mike Sage, Kristin Blegen


Story 1: Based on the Good Samaritan which is a parable told by Jesus, there are two towns on top of some rocky spires. There's Flibber-o-loo where vegetables wear boots on their heads and Jibber-de-Lot where vegetables wear pots on their head. They don't like each other because of their difference in opinion over what should be worn on the head, so they throw pots and boots at one another.

Story 2: Junior Asparagus (Lisa Vischer) is being put to bed and will be having a birthday pretty soon. He doesn't want to invite the new kid though because he talks funny. Dad Asparagus (Dan Anderson) wants him to reconsider because he believes that you can learn a lot from people who are different. Before Junior falls asleep, he gets a visit from Larry (Mike Nawrocki) and Bob (Phil Vischer) in a spaceship who are desperate for his help. Their ship's engines don't work anymore and a meteor is on a course to hit it.


The animation is unsurprisingly unimpressive, but there's only so much you do can on the shoestring budget that VeggieTales: Are You My Neighbor for sure has. Later on in 1995 we'd get another computer animated film in Toy Story, but that's a pipe dream at this point. Phil Vischer doesn't have $30 million to work with and he doesn't have the staff or equipment. However, I'll admit that the animation design is the most creative and bold so far out of all the entries from Big Idea Productions' short existence.

The first story is told all in rhyme and it's actually a success for the most part. I didn't really roll my eyes once, so that's a win right there. Dialogue is still a problem though and it's frustrating to see just how poorly the dialogue and animation are synched together. As always, Phil Vischer stretches himself too thin with horrible and unnecessary accents with his insistence on doing multiple voice acting roles.

With the second story, we get "treated" to a spoof of Star Trek. Junior for whatever reason is the man for the job to come up with a plan to save the USS ApplePies' crew of over 300 from being hit by a giant meteor made of popcorn. Poorly executed humour is much more prevalent in this story and it flubs on its attempt at tension. The message of loving your neighbor is also really badly integrated with a totally lazily placed song.

In terms of the songs as a whole, I'd give V:AYMN? a 5/10. It's uniformly uneven but then again, that's an improvement over the last two VeggieTales shorts. I have to voice my anger over the terrible Silly Song of this short which involves Larry and a hairbrush. It's a song that's annoying enough to make you froth at the mouth and drive you batty. I hate silly songs and apparently this song was voted the silliest song of the series by fans in 2001. That's probably a bad thing.

There is very little to be be impressed with in VeggieTales: Are You My Neighbor. One thing I'll give this movie is that it isn't too heavy handed with its Christian-ness. God is mentioned a few times sure, but it's done pretty respectfully. There's a good example of what Phil Vischer is capable of in the first story told all in rhymes and some of the songs are thankfully less annoying. I also noticed an improvement in the score. However, there's nothing funny in this VeggieTales movie and a lot of the same problems of the last two shorts persist.



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