My initial reaction to most kid shows that have references to the bible are a mixture of sarcasm and skepticism. There is one exception to that rule: Veggie Tales. Veggie Tales was started in 1993 when VHS was still strong and kids were still highly impressionable under the influence of a weathered old videotape. They bring together a wonderful blend of a fun children’s show (under the guise of a bunch of talking vegetables) and have very good values to live one’s life by. So in my first title to review from the people at Big Idea, I receive a DVD about Abe and his Amazing Promise. Hopefully this Abe character has a promise about some cookies, I’m hungry.
Bob the Tomato receives a fan’s letter and decides to read it. He is joined by Junior filling in for Larry (the Cucumber). The fan’s letter is about “waiting” for something special. Bob relates his answers to the ancient biblical tale of Abraham and Sarah. This tale tells the story of how Abraham asked for a child and how it took fifteen years for them to receive that child. However, despite the hard pressures and substantial turmoil for Abe and his wife, God kept his promise and delivered them a child as a reward for their faith.
As it also turns out, they have an interview set-up with Abraham & his family to relate the actual tale. Bob & Junior join the film crew and find out that the interview is harder than they thought. The first problem is that they have barely any tape to record the interview. The film crew is easily distracted and on top of that every five minutes Junior is worrying about his cookies. (Which are apparently his rewards once he finishes the production) Somehow though, Bob & company get through the interview with Abraham as he relates the famous tale of waiting and how God always keep his promises.
Abe and his Amazing Promise is actually a very good Veggie Tales short. The message is strong, it’s good and doesn’t come off preachy at all. The jokes are fast and they will make children and adults laugh alike. There is just one problem with the tale. It’s too short! Okay, they have this wonderful tale of Abraham and Sarah and how they had to wait 15 years for their child to be delivered to them. Then they deliver it in the same amount of time it takes to cook a good pizza from scratch. Not to mention while telling the tale, there are constant interruptions from their tape running out or a confused nurse, or Junior talking about his cookies. I like a good cookie, but geez. Abraham flies thru the tale and most of us forget about it shortly after.
The other problem is false advertising. The dvd cover mentions Abe & the Amazing Promise, except it only takes up about 20 minutes. The other half hour is taken up by a three minute Silly Song (“Sneeze If You Need To”) and then about a 25 minute cartoon called Blunders in Boo-Boo Ville. For my money, I actually found Blunders in Boo-Boo Ville more interesting and funny (it also ties in the theme of waiting). But I guess since Blunders doesn’t specifically reference a bible story, it can’t be mentioned except as a footnote on the back of the dvd case.
The film is presented in 1.33:1 Fullscreen presentation. As usual, the color is fantastic and the hand painted scenery is gorgeous to look at. These guys really are great artists. My only concern is that this is the year 2009 and I really think they need to move to 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. I know this is supposed to be kid friendly and the whole we barely upgraded from a vcr last spring family concept but I think it is safe to assume that a lot of parents would probably appreciate the widescreen for their hi-def televisions. Or at least give the option. Personal opinion aside, the video is very easy on the eyes.
The audio is also very strong in this production with its 5.1 English Dolby Digital Track. Surrounds are actually used and the dialog is near crystal clear. Crashes & other sound effects register good quality. It won’t be just your kid’s laughter that you hear down the halls. Subtitles are also available in English and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Veggie Tales: The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything
- Behind the Scenes:
This section includes Making of a Lesson in Patience 7:36, Studio Commentary, Art Galley, and Discussion Guide. The commentary is surprisingly strong with the director John Wahba and producer Chris Wall. The art gallery is a very nice touch and probably one of the best features on the disc as Joe Spadaford and Chuck Vollmer discuss various pieces of art from the shows on the disc.
- Fun and Games:
This section includes Video Trivia, Do You Remember UR? (Memory Game), Silly Song Sing-A-Long 2:59, Interactive Storybook (Babysitter in DeNile) 2:54, and How to Draw Abraham 11:16 and the Boo-Boo Bird 7:56. The video trivia game is somewhat interesting and is easy even on the hard setting. I got 100% on the first try. This will treat you to a bonus clip. Do You Remember UR? is a harder memory game but I don’t have the best short term memory, so it is probably just me. The Sing-A-Long and the story book can be done with or without Larry (I prefer with) and will get some use. The How to Draw section is the best of the bunch and can even teach somebody like me how to make a somewhat coherent drawing of a boo-boo bird. Very detailed.
- Previews: 3-2-1 Penguins – Blast in Space!, 3-2-1 Penguins – Save the Planets!, Heroes of the Bible III, Tomato Sawyer & Huckleberry Larry’s Big River Rescue, MOPS, and Operation Christmas Child.
- Easter Eggs 0:58, 0:52, 0:36: I found three easter eggs on the disc. There might be more. The first one is on the main menu and is an extended scene of the Boo-Bette crashing and fall apart. Very good gag, I think they should have went with it. The second one can be found in the main sub-menu of the Bonus Features and is a deleted scene with Jacques after leaving Luxemonia Castle. It was alright. The last one is under the sub-menu of Fun and Games and is an alternate scene of the introduction of UR. Again, it is a very good gag and honestly I think they should played on this idea more than they did.
VeggieTales are always good tales to watch. They deliver a strong message and are usually pretty funny and quick about their gags and jokes. Abe and the Amazing Promise does this for the most part. The only issue I have with the tale is that it is simply too short. More time is spent on the gags and less time is spent on the actual tale of Abraham and Sarah and their long wait for their child. The message of patience and waiting is there but it isn’t as good as it could be. The dvd is also very strong with the usual awesome hand-painted scenery and a good audio presentation. Finally the extras on the disc give children a lot more to do than simply putting it back in the case. As with almost any tale, I can give this an easy recommendation but just note the concerns I have expressed above.