I went to the library this evening to return How to Teach Physics to Your Dog and check out The Crossword Murder, and while I was looking at books Al looked at DVDs in the children’s section. He generally watches these by himself, but when he found Pistachio: The Little Boy That Woodn’t, we decided we would both go home and watch it right away.
It’s fun to see Carlos Collodi’s story about a wooden boy get a Veggie Tales twist. The message is primarily about listening to your parents, but it is combined with the Biblical story of the lost sheep, showing the father willing to go to any lengths to find his wayward son.
One of my few criticisms is that they cast Larry the Cucumber as Gelato, the lonely toymaker. The Veggie Tales vegetables have always been typecast, and Larry simply does not typically display the maturity of Gelato. Dad Asparagus, who is usually the father figure for Junior Asparagus (who plays Pistachio), would have been a much better fit.
I also thought that Pistachio should not have been immediately so rebellious. It’s been a long time since I read Pinnochio, but as I remember he was mischievous (such as in kicking Gepetto even before he was done being carved) but not outright rebellious. He wanted to do good and please Gepetto, but he kept letting bad company lead him astray. Of course Veggie Tales always changes the details of a story they are doing a parody of, but I saw no good reason for that change.
Those who have seen previous Veggie Tales shows will know why the character played by Larry has three little ducks whom he loves as his own children, and why Kahlil the caterpillar (here named Cricket, so you can guess what role he plays) has déjà vu when he realizes he is about to be swallowed by a great fish. It is no great surprise that Madame Blueberry shows up looking like a blue fairy, but as the show is told from a Christian viewpoint (where we look to God and not a fairy for help), I was glad to see that she made it clear that she is a blueberry, not a blue fairy.
The scenes at the waterfront carnival were a good substitute for Pleasure Island, I thought. I never liked that part of Pinnochio, because even as a kid who enjoyed games and candy, I knew there could be too much of a good thing. Carnival games – or any get-something-for-almost-nothing scheme, are a real temptation to children as well as adults, and seeing Pistachio lose his money to those hucksters is a good lesson in itself.
(That doesn’t mean carnival games are evil in themselves, especially if the prizes are small, as they are at our school carnival. But even low stakes games can raise expectations unreasonably and get children focused on the prize instead of the fun of playing. Covetousness comes so easily to us – why stoke it with such activities?)
There are also some cute innovations in the opening scene, both in the theme song and the introduction in the kitchen. Qwerty has been upgraded (finally!), and can now receive mail – complete with a video message from a boy (instead of Bob reading a letter).