Friday, December 23, 2011

Movie Review Friday: Veggietales -- "It's A Meaningful Life"

I’m a huge fan of Veggietales’ classic story remakes, so I knew that It’s A Meaningful Life had to be good! And, after watching the original film It’s A Wonderful Life this past weekend, I was admittedly very excited to see how Veggietales would retell this story for the children.

It begins with Larry the Cucumber starring as Stewart and Petunia as his wife Donna – yes, from Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, the real names of George and Mary Bailey in the 1930s classic! Stewart spends his whole life in regret, wishing he had only caught a ball in the biggest football game of his life. Doing so would have landed him as a lead player in the team’s advancement to the Salad Bowl. However, missing the catch, due to being tripped by his gourd friend, landed him in the hospital with little or no hope of ever playing football again. So his father (Nebby K. Nezzar) invites him to head his train factory, something that Stewart accepts with much chagrin. After 15 years, his gourd friend, who had gone off to play football in the major leagues, returns to his hometown, expecting to revamp it, name it after himself, and take over the train factory all to make money for himself. Though Stewart cares little about it, he is forced to up the number of trains manufactured each night to ensure that the factory can continue, without needing to be overtaken. (Get the Mr. Potter connection?) But things turn into a disaster, as the workers tire easily and are simply unable to keep up with the high number. One disaster after another, boxes start falling off shelves, toy parts are left everywhere, and many of the workers decide to quit. Stewart is left looking back on his life. “What if?” is the only question Stewart asks himself as he imagines himself catching the ball. Suddenly, a train rushes through the football stadium where Stewart is seated. Called the “What If? Express,” the mysterious conductor, named Gabe, takes Stewart on a ride and he gets his wish – see what life would look like if he had simply caught that ball. Will Stewart live the rest of life with renewed passion? Will he be able to keep the train station from being bought over by his friend, turned enemy?

Stewart and the "What If ? Express"
Besides being a wonderful, child-friendly remake of the It’s A Wonderful Life classic, there are a few other treats in this Veggietales Christmas film. For one, the new silly song “Goodnight Junior” was quite hilarious. His mother attempts to tuck him into bed, but is met with request after request for more stuffed animals to sleep with, till he is buried in a mountain of them! I think most parents will find this hilarious, as they know the pain of this, as will children who will find the fast-pace of the track to be funny.

The train conductor, Gabe
Also, It’s A Meaningful Life features the new song “Meant to Be” from Steven Curtis Chapman! Among the many bonus features on the DVD is an official music video featuring scenes from the Veggietales film. This song/video from Steven perfectly compliments the message of adoption that appears in It’s A Meaningful Life, through Stewart and Donna’s adopted daughter Emma (or Zuzu, as you know her in the classic film)!

Happily ever after ending :)
Overall, It’s A Meaningful Life is definitely more childish than the classic black-and-white film, but it’s fun for those who have seen the classic to pick and guess the relations and revisions Veggietales has made! It’s also great Christmas film for the kids. :)

Official trailer:


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