Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie, the best selling DVD of all time, which sold 50 million copies, is admittedly a tough act to follow, but The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything valiantly takes up the challenge. Not that its heroes look promising at first. Elliott known to Veggie Tales fans as Larry Boy, Sedgewick, who is Mr Lunt, and George, better known as Pa grape, are 'cabin boys' or waiters, in the "Pieces of Ate Dinner Theatre". Their audition for the starring roles in the theatre's pirate show ends in disaster. and they lose their jobs. While they are slumped in a pile of misery outside the theatre door, contemplating their bleak future, out of the blue, or rather out of the back of a garbage truck, adventure beckons. Elliot takes a chance, pushing the button on the mysterious, blinking gold ball, and catapults the three would-be pirates into a dingy somewhere in the ocean. The three are magically transported into the middle of a real pirate adventure.
Will they accept the challenge to save the princess' brother from the fearsome pirate, Robert the Terrible, who has kidnapped him to wrest the crown from the King's hands? The princess demands an answer. "But we're just cabin boys" the three pirates whine. Her father, the King, who sent them the golden ball, which she calls the Helpseeker, was mistaken.
Each of them suffers from particular limitation, Elliot has his 'fears', Sedgewick his laziness, and cheese-curl addiction, and George his wish for his kids to look up to him. No hero material here, just three losers who want to go home. Are they capable of rising to the challenge of the King's expectations?
Screenwriter Phil Vischer has taken the Veggie Tales away from a Scripture-based story, yet there is still a solid character lesson for children in this frothy pirate flick. Director Mike Nawracki describes the theme, 'God calls us into adventure, and equips us to fulfill that call". This wasn't immediately apparent, either to me or my 10 year old daughter who missed the wisecracks of Jonah. The middle of the film seemed a bit lost at sea, predictable and slow moving, until the King makes his appearance, and gives it a sense of direction. He praises the pirates, and tells them, "The hero isn't the strongest, or fastest, smartest, with the best looks. A hero is one who, no matter how hard, does what he knows is right." He reminds them of the signs and help he sent them along the way, saying, "my help is always there". The King is a God figure, who has brought out the bravery in Elliot the fearful, the ambition in Sedgewick the slothful, who nearly took the option of deserting the adventure for his easy chair, and inspired George, who proved he truly was the leader he always wanted to be for his kids. When the three are propelled back into their world, they have discovered their own greatness, thanks to the King's confidence in them.
Although I prefer the Biblical storyline and well-crafted characters of Jonah, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything stands out as much for what it doesn't have as for what it does. A family film with precious few potty jokes (a mention of a character's wetting himself), and absolutely no off-color anatomical references, alternate lifestyles, or crude language. There is none of the cynicism or nature worship which pervades children's entertainment lately, so Pirates is, in those respects, clean, inspiring family entertainment, which will delight your children, even as you are missing the sing along tunes of Jonah. Mild violence includes a kidnapping, attacking cheese curls, some fighting and blowing things up. This film will entertain the kids with no objections from Mom. You might even discuss what constitutes a true hero on the way home.