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VEGGIETALES:  THE STAR OF CHRISTMAS

Review by Michael Jacobson

Director:  Tim Hodge
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video:  Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Big Idea
Features:  See Review
Length:  45 Minutes
Release Date:  October 29, 2002

“We’ve got to get to the church on time!”

Film ***

Hey, you can’t have Christmas dinner without your vegetables, right?  And the folks at Big Idea have just the kind kids can’t wait to sink their teeth into…the VeggieTales.

Those loveable produce performers are back on DVD with a holiday offering.  The Star of Christmas is a sweet and funny tale that, as always, brings a solid positive Sunday morning message into your home any day of the week.

It’s the late 19th century, and struggling songwriters Cavis Appythart and Millward Phelps (Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber) have one wish:  to create a Christmas show that will teach their fellow Londoners about love.  All they need is the right songs, the right star, and a good word from the Prince for guaranteed success!

But an unexpected snag occurs when they learn of a small church giving a pageant on Christmas Eve…the same night as their opening!  And the little church has an unexpected ace up its sleeve…the Star of Christmas, a legendary ornament that hasn’t been seen by the public in 73 years!  Suddenly, the whole town is abuzz over the church production, while Cavis and Millward are left with a potential flop on their hands in “The Princess and the Plumber” (no, I didn’t make that up).

Their plans to…er, “borrow” the Star leads to trouble, as well as a run in with a custodian called “Moyer the Destroyer”.  But bad deeds never bear good fruit, and soon Cavis and Millward learn two very important lessons:  the identity of the true star of Christmas, and His story, which has already taught the world the ultimate lesson in love!

Almost everything you’ve come to expect from the VeggieTales is here, from its frank values to its colorful characters and humor.  All that’s missing is a memorable tune…the couple of weak attempts at production numbers are amusing, but won’t stay with you.

But the best part, as usual, is the fact that these perennial players offer up good solid family entertainment that parents can feel good about.  That in itself is a terrific Christmas gift.

Video ****

As per the norm, VeggieTales’ bright and vivid computer animation makes for great DVD watching.  This is a colorful, detailed and beautiful visual offering that will have your TV or monitor come to life with a cornucopia of colors and tones.  Highest marks.

Audio ***1/2

The 5.1 mixes continue to be humorously bold, too, with plenty of action to go around all channels and some accentuating action from the subwoofer.  All stages come into play, and off-camera cues are just as important as the ones you see…another solid mix from Big Idea!

Features ****

This is a disc loaded with enjoyable extras for the whole family!  For those interested in the animation and creative process, there’s a likeable and very informative commentary track by director Tim Hodge and writer Phil Vischer, who discuss the evolution of the story, their previous efforts, the values they wanted for their characters and more.  You can also enjoy a behind the scenes featurette, a look at some conceptual art, and a progression reel to see the story coming to life!

The kids will enjoy the “Fun” section of the disc…heck, I did, too!  Ye Olde Silly Synth lets you pick a song, pick a style, and pick a word, and then it puts all of them together for your own version of a Silly Song!  In Millward’s Mirror Morph, you pick a character and then a funny mirror to see them distorted out of proportions.  There’s a trivia game with easy and hard levels, a great idea for a family fun activity “secret agent”, a sing-along for “While By My Sheep” plus a couple of other holiday songs, a storybook for “The Toy That Saved Christmas”, a video recipe to make your own turtles, plus some DVD ROM content.  And keep an eye out for Easter eggs…or in this case, should we call them Christmas gifts?  ;-)

Summary:

The Star of Christmas is a big-hearted offering from VeggieTales, and one holiday special that dares to invoke the true meaning of the holidays!  Parents should be pleased with this charming little film and the superb, fun disc it’s presented on.