A lonely trumpet solo and a narrator sporting a Jersey accent set a somewhat ominous, Godfather
-esque stage for this stylish, 35-minute lesson about courage. But fear not: it's a VeggieTales story after all, and it soon kicks into action. Based on the Bible story of Esther, "just an ordinary girl" who becomes queen of Persia, this animated retelling tosses in the usual cup of Veggie humor to lighten the flavor of its very serious message. Esther, a young green onion, cannot understand why she has been chosen to wed King Xerxes (played by the humble pickle, Mr. Nezzer). Her cousin Mordecai (Pa Grape) assures her that God must have a reason; she soon discovers that her entire family's fate rests upon her ability to show courage under pressure. While this particular tale drops many of the comical sing-along aspects of other favorite VeggieTales (such as Dave and the Giant Pickle
and Where Is God When I'm S-Scared
), its strength comes from its story line; its rich, inspired artwork; and its impressive musical score. The creative team at Big Idea continues to produce quality Christian videos for the entire family. One quibble: there's no "Silly Songs with Larry" segment. --Liane Thomas
Early into the 14th episode of VeggieTales, the viewer gets a sense that Esther is going to be a veggie of epic proportions. Panoramic shots of the city give the impression that Esther was filmed on location, rather than on one of Big Idea's studio back lots (figuratively speaking, of course), and the soundtrack and musical numbers are as impressive as any found in a Disney feature. The characters are great as always, featuring Pa Grape (God Wants Me to Forgive Them?) as "Mordecai," Mr. Lunt ("The Cheeseburger Song") as "Haman" and a fresh green onion newcomer as the beautiful and sweet "Essie."
The book of Esther is a dramatic story of courage and faith, and it is truly treated as such in this animated adventure. One example is how the hangings of Haman and others are represented: They are banished to the gallows-less land of perpetual tickling, but there is a grim reaper figure who comes to claim his victims (albeit with a large "tickling" feather). Not exactly frightening, but it does come across as a better representation of death than a pie in the face (see King George and the Ducky). Although not as abundant as in other Veggie productions, the trademark wit and nonsensical moments are still here (including a couple of real gut busters), making Esther the complete package. -- Chris McNeece (c) 2000 CCM Communications, Inc. -- From CCM Magazine -- Subscribe Now!