Lil’ Duck Duck Reviews Pistachio: The Little Boy that Woodn’t
There is one thing that I have always been hesitant about when it comes to entertainment produced by a Christian organization. Normally the production values have been skimpy, the special effects laughable, and the premise of being taken seriously has always been watered down by a clear lack of original thinking. Products that come to mind are the “Guitar Praise” computer game, the “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” PC game, and even the Left Behind movies.
Maybe its because I have worked with some of the best people in the field of video games and computer animation at companies like EA Sports, but I set a very high bar for any production and especially Christian ones, as I personally feel they should be be on the same level as what Hollywood produces. One company that has never let me down in this regard is Big Idea and their show, VeggieTales.
Pistachio: The Little Boy That Woodn’t is the latest outing from the folks at Big Idea and the level of quality from this production is by far the best I have seen from Big Idea.
The story is based on a merging of two stories. One is from The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi and the other from The Parable of the Lost Sheep from the New Testament with a little of The Prodigal Son as well. The story is told with the same “tongue in cheek” humor that permeates the series. The story unfolds as Gelato, the local toy maker, receives a bit of wood that seems to have a life of its own. After carving it down to a new toy and naming it Pistachio, the toy comes to life and instantly begins his tirade of how he knows best over his father’s teachings. While at a local art museum, Pistachio is distracted by a puppet show and lies to get Gelato’s bit of money to go watch the show. What ensues after that is a grand chase, followed by the tricksy scallions (playing the fox and cat) cheating Pistachio out of his money at the Waterfront Carnival. In the meantime, Gelato leaves his other children (a small team of ducks) with Cricket the caterpillar in search of his lost son. After being swallowed by a whale (that looks to be part dog) and a misadventure with castor oil, the family is reunited. Pistachio learns that even though he may think he knows what is best, listening to your parents is the wise decision, as they know what is best.
The story is paced well and there is very little down time, and if you can forgive one major oversight (that Gelato passes within 1 foot of Pistachio on his search), it is well constructed. The writers originally planned to use the theme of The Prodigal Son and there are allusions to that story throughout but the story of the Lost Sheep is the dominant theme in the story. The DVD comes with a great discussion guide that you can use with your child after the movie to help reinforce the lessons within.
The story itself is bookended with the usual intro from the kitchen and email with QWERTY the computer, both of which have received a makeover compliments of the “Extreme Re-Do: Crying Edition” show. One neat upgrade to QWERTY is that it can now use V-Mail instead of email so the potential is there for actual kids to send videos of themselves asking questions of Bob & Larry. For this episode they used series co-creator Mike Nawrocki’s son for the role.
On a technical level, VeggieTales has never looked so good. Gone are a lot of the shiny surfaces and somewhat stiff animations. BigIdea has outsourced much of the animation to “HuHu”, a New Zealand animation company that has given the series a fresh coat of paint. The textures have all been given an added layer of depth and Pistachio looks and “feels” like a wooden toy. All the characters can stand closeups without any pixelation or texture degradation. Even the intro has been completely redone to include all the characters. One subtle touch is the fox at the Waterfront Carnival. He has a tail that not only moves back and forth, but twitches and reacts according to his mood. Another notable mention are the water effects, which look just as good as something I would expect from any Hollywood studio. The rain falls and breaks on surfaces in a realistic manner and the ocean water has a natural feel to it instead of repeating patterns.
Pistachio: The Little Boy That Woodn’t is a great addition to the VeggieTales catalog and if you are a fan of the series, you owe it to yourself to pick up this chapter. The story is solid, the animation superb, and the music and voice acting is top notch. If you are looking for a helping of vegetables for your little ones, you do not need to go any further. Pistachio is available for purchase by clicking on any of the links above. No iTunes version is available as of this writing.
– Daddy Creature