Say what you will about Mel Gibson, but The Passion of the Christ is undeniably the work of an uncompromising religious vision. Granted it is one that, with nauseating singularity, depicts Christ beaten into a pulp, but is still far more interesting than the latest Veggie Tales feature. Infusing bibilically-inspired morality plays into the Saturday morning cartoon format, Veggie Tales has been one of the most successful Christian entertainment products of the past decade along with Gibson’s blockbuster and the Left Behind book series. But for some reason, those responsible for The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything left barely a trace of religious subtext to the second Veggie Tales feature, another computer-animated menagerie of anthropomorphic produce. If they were trying to appeal to a broader audience (perhaps taking lessons from the disappointing returns of their first feature, Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie), they gravely miscalculated, for Pirates is a film whose insipid, generic plainness is its worse offense.
The plot is a standard action-movie ordeal where Elliot (a cucumber), Sedgewick (an elderly Jewish-sounding grape), and George (a squash with a derisible Mexican accent), three luckless workers in a pirate dinner theater restaurant, are transported to the 17th century to rescue a celery stalk princess from her evil pirate uncle. For a movie aimed at the five-to-10-year-old demographic, there are a hell of a lot of inert scenes where characters blather interminably within static compositions (an early bit involving the retrieval of barbecue sauce is particularly painful). The characters lack hands and yet are able to manipulate objects and swim long distances, a discrepancy remarked on self-parodically within the film, but nonetheless is a mark of the lack of sophistication in the animation: The artwork is run-of-the-mill ocean and island landscape and the digital detail is so indistinct that candle wax dripping on a character’s face resembles a cumshot (the only inspired concept to be found is a pack of ravenous cheese curls that terrorize the squash).
As for the much-touted kid-friendly morality that is the pride and joy of the series, good luck finding it buried amid the shaggy-dog storyline, inane dialogue, and repeated demonstrations of idiocy among the heroes. (To be fair, the geezer grape has a couple of teary moments yearning for his neglectful progeny that give Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild a run for his money.) One is as likely to find as many life lessons for their kids in Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters. At minimum, they would be able to see what truly inspired entertainment from cartoon food looked like.