Dec 12, 2014

Review: Veggietales: Saint Nicholas - A Story of Joyful Giving! (2009)

There are a whole lot of things about VeggieTales that brings out the worst in me. The preachiness is always a problem, the animation is usually an eyesore but probably it's the combination of voice acting and writing that gets to me. I understand that VT is for kids, but even kids deserve better entertainment than this. Yeah there are good messages and all that but if you need movies to teach your kids how to be good citizens then that's a parenting problem if you ask me. Let the kids have fun for crying out loud!

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Genre: animation, family
Directed by: Brian Roberts
Produced by: Kevin Gamble, J. Chris Wall
Written by: Mark Steele
Music by: Kurt Heinecke
Running time: 45 minutes
Production company: Big Idea Entertainment
Distributed by: Anderson Digital, Genius Products
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Gigi Abraham, Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Megan Murphy, Cyndy Trent, Amy Grant, Bryce Hitchcock, Anna Grace Stewart, Matthew West

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Synopsis


It's Christmas Eve and Bob the Tomato (voice: Phil Vischer) and Larry the Cucumber (voice: Mike Nawrocki) realize that none of the children seem to truly understand what Christmas is all about. Bob decides to tell the very unknown but true story of Saint Nicholas (voice: Gigi Abraham) which is set in Greece during Roman times. 

Review


There are a whole bunch of newcomers to the VeggieTales team in terms of producing, writing and directing which I noticed in The Star of Christmas too. The seven years since The Star of Christmas has brought even more changes as VT grows. We're definitely a long way from Phil Vischer doing everything which I've already expressed as a problem before too. This would all appear to be a good thing.

One change here is that writer Mark Steele seems much more into making semi-popular culture references now and again than Phil Vischer ever was. These references end up wearing out their welcome really quickly though and nothing else feels different in any way You could easily think that Vischer was the writer for Saint Nicholas - A Story of Joyful Giving! and that's a big problem.

Songs are once again a problem as usual, alternating between unbridled annoyingness to forgettable blandness. These aren't songs that can be remembered and sung later on at all. The transition into song is also pretty clumsy at times. I was hoping that there would be no Silly Songs with Larry segment like the other two Christmas VeggieTales movies, but something far worse happened. That came in the form of Helpful Humanitarian Songs with Mr. Lunt. I hope that this is a segment never revisited again. Knowing how VT is, I sincerely doubt my wish will come true.

I actually don't mind the Christianized version of Santa Claus' origins that only dips into over-preachiness a couple times,. It could've definitely been worse in that regard and the story itself is actually OK. It's really just the humour that is a major let down as usual. For example, Saint Nicholas has his own Larry the Cucumber counterpart in Octavius that is a big part of that failure. Fake accents on a bunch of characters are just par for the course.

I'm still waiting for the day that VeggieTales is actually funny. The production values have definitely improved with Saint Nicholas - A Story of Joyful Giving! The animation is a clear sign of that. It's still not very impressive if you compare it to movies from major studios, but I suppose that's expected. This very much looks like those direct-to-video animated releases that put most of their budgets to getting big names and close to nothing on animation. VT has no big stars though and its no-name cast isn't very talented either unfortunately.

Rating


4.5/10