Dec 9, 2014

Review: The Star of Christmas (2002)

So I'm skipping ahead some more with the VeggieTales series because I honestly I want to get them out of the way. If I finish all the Christmas entries now then I'll be a step closer to being done with this unbearable series as a whole. I honestly felt like I hit a brick wall when I saw that the run time for The Star of Christmas was 50 minutes. That's 20 minutes longer than the usual VeggieTales short which is 20 minutes too much. You could also say that it's 50 minutes too much anyway.

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Genre: animation, musical, comedy
Directed by: Tim Hodge
Produced by: David Pitts, Terry Botwick, Phil Vischer, etc.
Written by: Phil Vischer
Music by: Kurt Heinecke, Christopher Davis
Running time: 50 minutes
Production company: Big Idea Productions
Distributed by: Public Broadcasting Service, Warner Home Video, Word Inc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Jacquelyn Ritz, Lisa Vischer, Dan Anderson, Jim Poole, Tim Hodge, Mike Sage, Matthew Hodge, Shelby Vischer, Josh Vulcano, Ian Anderson, Aimee Dupriest, Adam Frick, Peggy Heinrichsen, Julea Love, Laura Richey, Jesse Tewson

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Synopsis


It's 1882 and two London jingle writers are getting the chance of a lifetime. Cavis Appythart (voice: Phil Vischer) and Millward Phelps (voice: Mike Nawrocki) are making their big move into theatre production with a show called The Princess and the Plumber. Their goal is to teach London about love with the biggest and grandest production they've ever seen. They soon learn of a small pageant that poses a threat to their show because it will feature the Star of Christmas, a famous relic that hasn't been seen by the public in ages. Appythart and Phelps are forced to do something unless they want their show to bomb.

Review


The Star of Christmas has a lot more people working as actors and producers in comparison to the early beginnings of VeggieTales where Phil Vischer was pretty much doing it all. Vischer really isn't the man to do it all, so I'm glad he's allowed more people into the fold. The Star of Christmas as a production really shows that VeggieTales has grown, much to my relief. There are still some pretty big problems though that haven't gone away.

The story to begin with features two overly clueless characters. How on earth do Cavis Appythart and Millward Phelps really believe that Londoners will learn how to love by seeing a huge, great show with tons of lights? The message here of course is that Christmas isn't about lights and showiness, but about Jesus who is best communicated with simplicity. Cavis and Millward just seem a little bit too clueless for my taste, all so that this message can be hammered in.

I even think that The Star of Christmas contradicts itself. (Spoilers) What's up with that giant lighted-up star with Millward strapped onto it doing there at the final scene of the pageant? Never mind the impossibility of building something like that in a split second during a performance, but it seems to fly in the face of what The Star of Chrsitmas was trying to say. What happened to keeping things simple? (End Spoilers) The only explanation I can think of is that TSoC was apparently a very rushed production. I'm guessing no one had time to really think everything through as a result.

Animation is a pretty nice step up from what I've gotten used to seeing so far in this series. It pretty much looks a little bit worse than what you'd see in an early 2000's video game cut scene. Distant scenery looks a lot more convincing and mouths line up a lot better with the dialogue. (Spoilers) The chase scene through the church with Cavis Appythart, Millward Phelps and Moyer the Destroyer (voice: Jim Poole) honestly looks kind of alright. There are still some easy things to nitpick like the fire animation as well as most of the rocket car scene. (End Spoilers)

I was very happy about the lack of a Silly Songs segment with Larry in this one. What I'll say about the rest of the songs in The Star of Christmas is that they're a lot better than what I expected. They're not memorable, but they also didn't make me cringe too much either. One thing that struck me as pretty bizarre though was the use of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" in the final scene of the movie. I'm not sure who sang this version but it seemed very misplaced and it also brought the cheese factor up to an unbearable level.

The Star of Christmas shows that VeggieTales is slowly maturing. I think. I believe that most of that can be attributed to bringing in more people for production, voice acting duties and taking responsibility away from Phil Vischer. The movie does seem to fall into some familiar VeggieTales problems though. Improvements have been made in certain regards but humour still doesn't deliver, voice acting is still very questionable and nothing can hide the shortcomings of the story. Still, I'm glad to see that there just might be some chance that VeggieTales is getting better.

Rating


4.5/10