Mar 28, 2015

Review: VeggieTales: Madame Blueberry (1998)

They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. If that's the case then I must be one of the strongest people I know. I've now forced myself through ten videos of VeggieTales, not including the Christmas-themed ones I skipped ahead to during this past December. After getting through Madame Blueberry, the bitter reality is that I may have won a battle, but the war is far from won.

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Genre: animation, short, family
Directed by: Mike Nawrocki
Produced by: Chris Olsen
Written by: Mike Nawrocki
Music by: Kurt Heinecke, Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki
Running time: 38 minutes
Production company: Big Idea Entertainment
Distributed by: Word Entertainment, Lyrick Studios, Warner Home Video, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Megan Moore Burns, Mike Sage, Lisa Vischer, Dan Anderson, Shelby Vischer

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Synopsis


Madame Blueberry (voice: Megan Moore Burns) lives in a grand house in a tree, but is always sad. Despite being doted on by her butlers Bob the Tomato (voice: Phil Vischer) and Larry the Cucumber (voice: Mike Nawrocki), she feels that her neighbours all have nicer things than she does. She even keeps framed pictures of all their nice things that she wishes she had. It's her lucky day however when a Stuff-Mart opens down the street, selling all the items she could ever want.

Review


Today's VeggieTales lesson is about being thankful. The story of Madame Blueberry gets that message across, but only in the way VeggieTales can. It hammers it in with a jackhammer, throws in a bunch of lame jokes and actually feels a little bit preachier than usual VT fare. I understand that VT is for kids and all that, but even kids deserve a bit of subtlety and Madame Blueberry has none. A bear driving a Hummer has more subtlety.

The voice acting with Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki biting off more than they can chew continues to annoy me. That'll never change though and it's something I just have to accept I guess. I'm glad that the decision was made to at least have a new voice actress out of the usual regulars in Megan Moore Burns. She does the titular character and does OK work. This is mostly because I'm glad to hear a different voice for once.

Animation is still quite poor, but I did notice a bit of boldness in the opening seconds of Madame Blueberry. The forest where we find the main character's house is all rendered and doesn't look as sparse as past VT landscapes. It looks awful, especially by today's standards but it's a small example of improvement for this series. So, keep up the good work? I think?

In terms of the songs, the absolute low point of Madame Blueberry is "Stuff Mart Rap." I bet there's a YouTube video of it somewhere but I don't want it anywhere near here. It's enough that I've actually said the title, so look it up on your risk. I bear no responsibility for anything you might break. Besides that, Madame Bluberry's main problem with its songs is that it's much too repetitive. "The Thankfulness Song" is done three times which is at least one time too many (more like three though).

The Silly Songs with Larry segment becomes Love Songs with Mr. Lunt which is totally fine with me. The less Larry the better. I wasn't expecting much with this segment, but I was surprised at the idea of  "His Cheeseburger." It's silly, no question about it since it's about a squash and his love for a cheeseburger and subsequent betrayal of said cheeseburger. The song itself isn't all that funny, but the idea is. That's something right?

Overall, Madame Blueberry is one of the better VeggieTales videos I've seen so far. The production is a smidgeon better and there are some good ideas here even if the execution isn't all there. There are still many annoying and irritating moments throughout, but less so than the norm. With Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki still being so heavily involved, unfortunately I don't think we're anywhere near VT becoming respectable though.

Rating


4/10