Dec 5, 2014

Review: The Toy That Saved Christmas (1996)

What is there to say really? Another day, another VeggieTales. Is that the expression? Sure feels like it anyway. There's just too many of them. I'm skipping some entries because I want to get through the Christmas ones before the month is out. The sooner I'm done with this series, the better because only VeggieTales could make thirty minutes feel like four hours. Only VeggieTales could make me want to become a complete carnivore.


Genre: animation, short
Directed by: Chris Olsen, Phil Vischer
Produced by: Chris Olsen
Written by: Phil Vischer
Music by: Kurt Heinecke, Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, etc.
Running time: 34 minutes
Production company: Big Idea Productions
Distributed by: Word, Warner Home Video, Lyrick Studios
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Lisa Vischer, Kristin Blegen, Dan Anderson, Ken Cavanagh, Shelby Vischer, Bridget Miller, Lesley Benodin


The Veggie gang are putting on a Christmas special, dubbed "The VeggieTales Christmas Spectacular." Bob the Tomato (voice: Phil Vischer) and Larry the Cucumber (Mike Nawrocki) are very excited but unfortunately they run into a big problem. They can't find the tape of the film they're meant to be showing. If they don't find it soon, the network is going to take their show off the air and play an episode of Bonanza instead. This leads to some desperate attempts at improvisation until the tape can be found.


I could feel the strain on my eyeballs as soon as I saw that Bob and Larry were hosting some show. No one could ever think that these two are capable of running a show on a network. No human or vegetable would ever give these guys a shot in a million years. Ever! But somehow here I am, watching Bob and Larry struggle and be unfunny.

Like a waking nightmare, The Toy That Saved Christmas begins with a celebration of the past five VeggieTales. A bunch of scenes from past shorts are mashed together with a song from hell. Somehow it isn't the worst song though. Trust me on this, I've become very astute at judging garbage. The worst by far is While By My Sheep which is atrociously sung by Junior Asparagus (voice: Lisa Vischer). It's unclear if the awful singing was intentional or not, but I hope I never hear anything of the like again.

It's like Phil Vischer has a personal vendetta against me. He must if he thinks that Silly Songs with Freakin' Larry is a good idea. I came close to shutting the TV off at this point, but I pressed on. Oh, Santa! is just as annoying as I imagined it to be and is funny exactly zero times. I really do hate these segments and I have a special place reserved in my compost for Larry the Cucumber if ever I see him.

(Spoilers) The tape is eventually found all because it was originally mistaken for a pizza. Good going guys. (End Spoilers) The main story we get "treated" to is about a town that doesn't know the true meaning of Christmas. Wally P. Nezzer (voice: Phil Vischer) brainwashes all the children with a commercial featuring his newest toy, Buzz Saw Louie. His message is pretty much this: Christmas is all about getting stuff and having more toys. The young veggies then run around bumping into each other, whining about needing more toys to no one in particular but themselves.

Animation is maybe a little bit better than earlier entries of VeggieTales, but there are a lot of weak points throughout. The Toy That Saved Christmas never seems able to hide the fact that a lot the action takes place in very empty and flat environments. Voice acting is weak as usual primarily because of Phil Vischer's insistence on being everybody. His Wally P. Nezzer voice is by far the worst of them all.

There's absolutely no tension when there should be and there is hardly a hint of any real humour. There are a couple of instances where Phil Vischer gives the viewer some winks, but they're poorly executed. The resolution of the story takes a comical five seconds to happen and we're also given a hamfisted message that Christmas is about giving and baby Jesus. Compare this short to the message that's given in A Charlie Brown Christmas and you can really see just how far away this Christmas special truly is.

With The Toy That Saved Christmas, I feel like Phil Vischer was really trying to go big. He struck out big too though. Without a doubt this is a step down from the already paltry product he's put out so far. I have a lot more VeggieTales to go through and quite a few more Christmas specials to see, but I'm really doubtful that Vischer can ever bring this franchise to respectability if he's behind the helm.



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