Posts Tagged ‘Johnny deep’

The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything – A Veggietales Movie

October 13, 2008

What Is It?

It has been years since the asparagus incarnation ofJonah hit theaters, but here is the follow up film based on side characters (sort of) from the first. Pa Grape (Phil Vischer), Larry The Cucumber (Mike Nawrocki) and Mr. Lunt (Phil Vischer) play George (Pa), Elliot (Larry) and Sedgewick (Lunt), three guys who work as bus boys at a Pirate themed dinner theater. After being fired, they find a blinking electronic ball that sends them back hundreds of years to the time of Pirates. (Luckily they happen to be dressed in their pirate costumes.) Here hey have to overcome their individual issues to follow the clues and save the Prince from the King’s evil exiled brother.

How Was It?

I went with my daughter Eowyn. We were one of three families in the theater. When I giggled at a reference to the soap opera “The Days of Our Lives” I brought the grand total of laughter up to “1 giggle”. This was a lack luster comedy where everything had the feeling of “haven’t I seen this before?” If you have a background in film (by which I mean you have seen more that 15 movies in your life) you will pretty much know what is going to happen by the end of the first 20 minutes. This flat, yet contrived, plot line is then accented by jokes that feel like the script simply said “insert obvious cultural reference here.”These references then have no joke connected with them. We are just supposed to think the irony of a kids movie quoting Pacino, in
Scarface” is funny, which unfortunately, it isn’t. Even Mr. Lunt running from a mob of living cheese curls, is just not as wacky and fun as you would expect. By the time they are running from giant rock people you just do not care.

Still there were two bright spots. During a useless montage of the pirates “not doing anything” (seriously for 2 minutes 31 seconds.. nothing) they play a new Newsboys song (Yo Ho Hero) with lyrics written and sung by Christan Music Legend: Steve Taylor! The other spark of genius comes when the credits start and are interrupted by Mr Lunt saying they forgot to show a part of the movie. The following 2 minutes is the Brilliant Veggie wackiness that we have been waiting for the entire film! (Ironically, that song clip is on the
Pirates web page! under “Video” and then “A Look Inside”)

According to IMDB.com, the script was written before Johnny Deep ever dawned a Captain’s hat. This would explain why there are none of the expected references to the Caribbean. Hold on. This film was a pirate movie by people who had done great things in the past, but a contrived plot and the ruining of great characters made it painful other than 2 really cool scenes…. maybe this IS “Pirates of the Caribbean 3!”

Is It Good For Kids?

There is nothing here that is new for the Veggies. The biggest caution would be for children too young to understand repentance and personal growth. It would be necessary to point out that the character’s attitudes through the bulk of the movie was wrong, and the right way to respond was when they repented and changed their behavior.

You can see a complete break down of what is on the screen at Screenit.com

What About Spiritual Issues?

There are references to God but there is no time with QWERTY at the end to spell it out for you. It seems to be left open for Parents and Sunday School Teachers everywhere to get to say “Do you know what that means?!”

(Spoiler)

The Father/King who does return at the end had a plan the entire time and meant to help everyone by it. The symbolism is a notch less obvious than Pilgrims Progress, but almost as silly. The antagonist of the story is the King’s evil brother. I could see where some people could twist this to be an endorsement of the Mormon theology of Satan being Jesus brother, but I do not see anyone bringing that up outside of self important religiously minded movie critics trying to over analyze a film to make you dependent on their reviews and recommendations. Ya, you know the type.

What Is Your Recommendation?

I have found that Veggie Tales is very hit or miss. They are very good at taking an existing story and packing it full of irony and gags or doing a short free form bit. They have no talent in coming up with their own story
and making it work. (Case in point: Jonah – Story taken from the Bible, Pirates – They made it up.) It would be a nice thing to support this outing, unfortunately it’s so hard to support a poorly done kids comedy. I would wait for the DVD in the hopes that the special features are funnier than the movie was. In the mean time
you can down load the MP3’s of Steve Taylor and The News Boys doing “Yo Ho Hero” and the ending Veggie song. (I mean download them legally from a site where you pay per song.)

Advertisements

A Look at Horror, Monster and Scary Movies

October 11, 2008

It’s beginning to look a lot like….

 

We are in an odd season. Here we are celebrating things that “go bump in the night”. TV and movies have joined the festivities. So, with little hope of finding “Harvest Party the Movie”, what is a Christian to do?  

If we look in the Bible, what do we see in regards to evil and monsters?

From Cain and Abel to the martyring of the two witnesses in the book of Revelation, we see all manner of evil acts by all manner of people. The prophet Daniel sees a vision of monsters attacking the world, John sees a great dragon chase a woman to devour her baby.  Even the living creators that encircle the throne of God have a monstrous edge to them. So if the Bible does not shy away from evil, and even monsters like demons, dragons and Satan himself, what do we do with modern depictions of them?
 

First, the Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”   As Christians, it is not only our duty to avoid participation in evil, but to show evil for what it truly is.

Film writer/director Scott Derrickson told World Magazine “Horror is the genre with the most sensitive moral compass. No other genre defines good and evil better. No other genre allows for spiritual and religious  ntent more than horror…The danger of the genre is that it can easily cross over into exploitation”   So what is being shown to us in the movies?

In “The Screwtape Letters” CScott Derrickson.S. Lewis said that demons (the teachers of evil ideas 1 Timothy 4:1) either want us to believe that they do not exist or be obsessed with them. We see this in film today. Most movies that include monsters and images of evil are either harmless because we do not believe in “real” evil. Movies like Scary Movie” and “Casper” just use these images as something to laugh or cue at. Or, in “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas“, darkness is just there for goth teens to say “cool” under their breath. Then there is the other side, focused too much. Movies like “Freddie vs. Jason” and “Scream” present killings and evil in a pornographic manner for us to revel in.  

So do we ever see anyone get it right?

Movies that present evil as something hideous and terrible, and at the same time, not something to revel in? J.R.R. Tolkien said that the best “fairy” stories are not primarily concerned with the fairies themselves, but he people in the stories. The magical element helps us to see a bit of the human condition. The same is true of the best monster movies. It turns out that monsters of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s  were just that. The idea of many was that turning from God and His natural order produces monsters.

Dracula  was a parody of Jesus, an anti-Jesus who was stopped by the power of Christ. It was a graphic llustration of the biblical fact that those who are living in their sins are dead, though they live. (1 Timothy 5:6) Frankenstein was trying to take the place of God and create a person in his own image. Dr. Jekyll was trying to separate himself from his evil side without God. Instead he created and fed a monster who was a personification of his “fleshly lusts” (thus the name “Hyde”). Movies made about these characters don’t allways stick to the source material, and thus the original symbolism. (While the 1940’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde expanded on the Biblical symbolism, “Mary Riley” is  Jekyll and Hyde story that tones down the human nature – sin stuff.) Some just take the monsters and use them for cheap thrills with no real meaning (“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, “Van Helsing”).  

 

You can see a biblical use of monster symbolism in the vampire flick “The Addiction.” Here being a vampire is only the full realization of your sin nature. A philosophy student (played by Lili Taylor) deals with the problem of evil in the world as she fights her longing for blood now that she is a vampire. She goes through every philosophy of dealing with her sin nature from Buddhism (with Christopher Walken) to Hedonism
(one of the grossest scenes in the film). Finally (Spoiler) with quotes from “R.C. Sprol” she takes communion and Jesus Christ is the answer to vampirism and our sin nature.  

 

In “Deceived” a group of scientists, clergy, and military men are trying to contact aliens. Here they are trying to use these communications from the aliens as a source of salvation outside of God (though the more they interact with the alien’s messages, the more they are driven to horrible and sinful acts from greed/lust to
murder).  (Spoiler) The source of the transmissions is demons and Biblical salvation is the only way to protect yourself from its influence.  

 

In M. Night Shyamalan‘s “The Village” the people are surrounded by woods where horrible creatures live, but  he movie is really an experiment in human nature. It explores the question: “Is society the cause of evil, or is man inherently sinful?”.

 

In his earlier film, “Signs“, the monsters are aliens in the sky. As Mel Gibson and the rest of the cast worry and wonder about the creatures’ existence, M. Night’s movie asks the question: “If there is something evil coming to you, is God there to take care of you?”.  

 

Aforementioned filmmaker Scott Derrickson invites the audience to consider if it’s possible that a spiritual world could exist in the courtroom drama/demonic thriller “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”.  

 

Then, on the other end of the scale, there is the Frank Perettie adaptation of “The Hang Man’s Curse“. A highly trained Christian family takes on a school that is plagued by cult activities and its curse. The feel is on a par with “Buffy/Angel” style production and speaks to the issues of suicide and the sanctity of life.

Also from Perettie, The Visitation is a “direct to video” horror… e r… creepy film. A Midwest town is put on the map when miraculous signs start invading their benign existence. From supernatural healings to the likeness of Jesus’ face in the stained tile of the bathroom wall, everyone is touched by the accompanying message : “He Is Coming.” Revival meetings start. One pastor (Randy Travis) believes this may be demonic. One former pastor (Martin Donovan) believes this may be linked to the ritualistic murder of his wife. One mom  (Kelly Lynch) is fearful her son (Noah Segan) is in danger and the son, along with most the town, believes that a messiah has come for them… and maybe he has.

 

You could go back a couple more years to “Bless the Child.” Here a little girl is anointed by God to lead many to Him. Thus a demonically powered cult (with a “new age” cover) tries to destroy the girl. It’s a b movie with
it’s heart in the right place. The problem with this one is that it is not clear if the girl is a “type” of Christ Biblically pointing to Him with similarities) or a “new Christ” (blasphemously replacing Him).

 

Finaly, we have “Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl”. Here we get a ghost story with pirates, and Johny Depp… how cool is that. Once again, going against God creates monsters. There are plenty of refernces to Biblical Christianity to say we are going with that world view. The Pirates have stolen gold from heathen gods, and now, they have wealth and power, but no pleasure. The greed for wealth has poisoned everything else, creating creatures that are not dead, but they are not really living. There is also
a great conversation that goes in very well with Matthew 6:21.

What is Your Recommendation?

Maybe this October 31, you will want to have a little “truth about evil” film festival while you and your friends enjoy popcorn and snacks, as you hand out full-sized candy bars (with invitations to your church youth group and “Do You Want To Know God Personally” books strapped to them) to any spooks that happen to interrupt, as they pass by. Who knows, a “Hey, whatcha watchin’?” may turn into one of the most important conversations of their life.