Movies: Abe and the Amazing Promise

I used to buy every Veggie Tales video as soon as it came out, but disappointment with some of the more recent ones, combined with family financial difficulties, made me reluctant even to spend money renting the newest one. (Well, almost the newest one – I just went to bigidea.com and discovered that Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah’s Umbrella just came out but I haven’t seen it in the store yet.)

It occurred to me this weekend, when I picked up Al from his class in the KidzTown area at church, that the KidzTown Public Library just might have Abe and the Amazing Promise. Sure enough, there it was, so I checked it out, and tonight Al and I watched it. He laughed a lot, and commented afterward that its lesson on patience is one he needs to remember. So I have to conclude it’s a good show.

Watching it, though, I couldn’t help thinking that it just wasn’t the same as some of the earlier Veggie Tales shows I enjoyed so much. King George and the Ducky is a family favorite, along with Where Is God When I’m S-Scared? and Are You My Neighbor? I really like Sumo of the Opera, but most of the other recent ones just miss somehow with me.

I’ve read speculation that it has to do with Big Idea having been bought by a larger company. I’ve wondered if the creative minds behind the series have used up their best ideas, and continue to churn out shows because that’s “what they do” even when the inspiration just isn’t there. But I read a customer review at amazon.com that points in a different direction.

Abe and the Amazing Promise is apparently “the first full-length episode directed by John Wahba. … Wahba’s emphasis seems to be more focused on bringing to life a film that plays to a child’s sense of imagination and humor, rather than engaging in the asides and in-jokes for adults that adult fans are used to finding sprinkled throughout the VeggieTales series.” Other reviews commented on the lack of wittiness that Veggie Tales fans have come to expect.

It’s hard to say whether this change in direction will work long-term or not. One reason for Big Idea’s big success was that parents enjoyed watching the videos with their kids. Parents do get movies just for their kids sometimes, but if they’re like me, they’re less likely to stick with a series that they don’t enjoy themselves unless the kids beg for it. And since Veggie Tales isn’t advertised all over the place where kids will see it (at least not where my kid sees it), they won’t even know a new video is out, let alone ask for it.

By the end of the DVD, I have to admit it was beginning to grow on me. Most of the songs – even the silly song – seemed far from memorable, but as I headed up to the kitchen I found the last one running through my head. And the second story (unlike most Veggie Tales videos I can think of, the Bible story came first and a purely fictional story was the longer one) really was quite creative, and I think also effective, in getting its point across (about taking the time to do a job right).

Now I just have to be patient until the church library gets a copy of Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah’s Umbrella…

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