Minnesota Cuke – the loveable children’s museum curator – is back for another Veggie Tales adventure! Following up on his eagerly received premiere appearance in Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson’s Hairbrush, Larry takes to the screen again in his role as Minnesota, with both halves of the disc dedicated to his search for Noah’s umbrella.
Written by the same team that brought us the original episode, Tim Hodge and Robert G. Lee spin a tale of intrigue and adventure that shows a distraught Larry that trusting in, and obeying God is all that matters. When some fellow fast food eaters ridicule Larry after singing a song of thanks over his chicken nuggets, Bob realizes that Larry is in need of his own story.
Minnesota Cuke hates being laughed at. Though he’s tried to do right since he was a wee cucumber, he’s just about had it with people making fun of him. The eccentric Mr Muffett (who made his fortune in a best-selling poem about his daughter – “Little Miss Muffett”) is building a Bible-themed goldfish pond in his backyard, and needs to find Noah’s ark to use as the centerpiece.
Larry’s quest takes him on a journey filled with mysterious clues, kidnapping, evil twins, and… lots of people laughing at him along the way. Bolstered by scriptural encouragement from his platonic sidekick Julia – Petunia Rhubarb – and challenged through his trials, he eventually comes to the conclusion that when God is happy with his actions, it doesn’t matter what others think.
After the release of a rather disappointing Abe and the Amazing Promise, I’m thrilled to see that Big Idea is back on track with this, their 38th Veggie Tales episode. With director Mike Narowcki at the helm, and John Wahba as a co-pilot, we’re once again seeing great messages, effectively conveyed through the traditional-style veggie humor that appeals to kids, while offering adults laughs through additional inside jokes and spoofs. The Veggie Tales team openly admits that they were pulling heavily from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for laughs from older viewers.
I love this 45 minute disc’s format, with Minnesota Cuke filling both story slots, separated by an intermission of a fabulous silly song, “Sippy Cup” by Steve Taylor. This extended length episode almost gives the feeling of one of the Veggie Tales feature films such as Jonah, but remains sandwiched within the bookends of the intro sequence and closing scripture verse.
“Sippy Cup” has become a fast family favourite, hearkening back to the undeniable sing-along appeal and humor of earlier Veggie Tales favourites. It’s an inside joke here now to threaten our children with sippy cups when they spill, and both my six- and three-year-olds can be heard mumbling the tune under their breath throughout the day. The songs within the episode are just as catchy, only I’m the one you’ll find hollering, “The Lord told Noah to build Him an arky, arky… build it out of gopher barky, barky…”
The discs bonus features are even more fun than usual. The spontaneous, transparent, and revealing studio commentaries laid over the film, as well as lessons in drawing Minnesota Cuke and Julia are the high points. An art gallery, sing along with Larry segment, and discussion guide are also included. English and Spanish subtitles are available, along with 5.1 surround sound, and standard scene navigation options are also included. The CG animation is of course, fabulous. After watching these state-of-the-art releases, it makes returning to their older DVDs such as Esther somewhat painful.
I can’t definitively say who was responsible for the mediocre quality of Abe, but I can attest to the fact that Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah’s Umbrella is right up there amongst the Veggie Tales classics. My children have been asking to watch it incessantly, and I hardly mind. The message is great, unmistakably delivered, catchy tunes, lots of laughs – we’ve got a winner! Or as my oldest tells me, “I’d give it eight stars if I could!”