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Big Ideas presents
VeggieTales: The Ultimate Silly Song Countdown (2001)

Larry: On the day I got my tooth I had to kiss my great Aunt Ruth, she had a beard, and it felt weird.
Doctor: My, my, she had a beard and it felt weird?
Larry: She had a beard.

- Mike Nawrocki, Phil Vischer

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: September 21, 2001

Stars: Lisa Vischer, Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki
Other Stars: Jim Poole
Director: Tom Bancroft

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:43m:04s
Release Date: September 18, 2001
UPC: 045986029232
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- AAA- A-

DVD Review

There are just some things that are incomprehensible unless seen. Say, the experience of visiting the Grand Canyon. Or the sight of the dazzling blue waters off the coast of the Bahamas. Or the indelible images provided by a television show about computer-animated vegetables that wish to instill morals in our young ones. Yes, VeggieTales is certainly a unique experience. Written as much for adults as it is for children, each episode starts with a moral (usually Biblically based), and illustrates it through the actions of a cast of various fruits, leafy greens, and legumes. The animation is delightful, with bold, eye-catching colors and that pleasing rendered look, but the real highlight is the sharp writing. Each episode is basic enough to be enjoyed by very small children, but peppered with enough cultural references, elements of satire, and film references to keep adults watching as well.

It became as tradition with each volume of the direct-to-video series to include a segment entitled Silly Songs with Larry, which is, as we are told, "the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song." Larry, by the way, is the most loveable veggie of the bunch, a cucumber who means well, but is, shall we say, a bit dim. The songs dispense with the semi-educational, moralizing elements of the main show, and focus on whacked out, random humor. The results are always fabulous, with melodies that will stick in your head for days and lyrics worthy of Dr. Suess. The best part, of course, is the diverse array of musical influences and genres drawn from to create the songs. There's an 1980s' power ballad, a tango, and some barbershop, plus plenty of recognizable classical music.

With an array of excellent songs in the queue, the VeggieTales creators decided it was time for a collection of all the Silly Songs. So they enlisted The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (popular favorites from a previous Silly Song) to host a countdown of the ten greatest Silly Songs of all time. The catch being that there are only ten anyway! Included, in countdown order, are:

Endangered Love
The Dance of the Cucumber
Larry's High Silk Hat
The Water Buffalo Song
The Yodeling Veterinarian of the Alps
The Song of the Cebu
His Cheeseburger
Love My Lips
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
The Hairbrush Song


Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The transfer on this disc is just as good as the last release in the series. Once again, colors look suitably rich and saturated, with no hint of color bleeding. Artifacting is not a problem, nor is edge enhancement. Black level isn't an issue, as there are no dark scenes. I suspect the transfer was done direct from the digital source, because there is nary a speck of dirt or line evident.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio is presented both in the original 2.0 and in a 5.1 remix. The 2.0 is very good, with a rich sound and a wide front soundstage. The 5.1 mix is even better. With the lyrics anchored in the center, the fronts are used primarily to support the score and instrumentation. The surrounds also provide ample support for a very enveloping musical experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 11 cues and remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie
1 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Moo Shoo karaoke
  2. Hidden Silly Songs: Oh, Santa! and the Japanese version of The Hairbrush Song
  3. Details on the Silly Song voting process
  4. Never before heard complete version of Lost Puppies (from Esther)
Extras Review: The last VeggieTales disc had some nice extras, but this one blows it out of the water. I am very impressed with both the volume and the quality of the features, especially for a direct-to-video release.

Two interviews make up the substantive portion of the extras. The first runs 20 minutes, and is really an interview gallery with VeggieTales creators Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki. In segments viewable separately or with a "play all" option, the two discuss the genesis of each of the 11 Silly Songs in the program. The two are very engaging and the piece is full of neat background info and some self-deprecating humor. Definitely worth a look. The other segment reuses a bit of the footage from the first piece, but it goes into more detail on the genesis of the "countdown" idea and the fan voting process. Again, the participants are Phil and Mike.

Very brief is the deleted scene, basically just an excised joke from the countdown intermission footage. An amusing line, but it runs a mere 14 seconds. Another quickie is the story reel, basically a rough animation version of the song Do the Moo Shoo. The Moo Shoo song is also present with separate audio tracks for each character, so you can do karaoke, choosing who you want to replace. Nifty feature, and I wish they had included it for all the songs.

That's the end of the normally selectable extras. The rest are hidden as Easter Eggs. Now, I don't know if I just got an early test disc, but these "extra extras" are not "buried beneath the menu screens" as the insert promises. The only way to access them is using the title button on the remote control. Of course, it took me 20 minutes of playing with the disc to figure this out. Another argument against hidden features (looking for them wasn't exactly fun).

Using the remote, enter title 8 for the "complete" version of Lost Puppies from a previous VeggieTales video release, Esther. I've never seen that video, but this little snippet of song is fairly amusing. Enter title 9 on the remote for a bonus Silly Song, the Christmas themed Oh, Santa!. Title 10 gets you a rather bizarre Japanese language version of The Hairbrush Song. Title 11 is a static screen offering the results in the vote for the silliest Silly Song.

Overall, a very nice package, but I wish the Easter Eggs were more easily selectable.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

VeggieTales is an excellent series, with the same kind of cross-generational appeal as the Toy Story films. Invariably, the best and most memorable element of any release is the Silly Song, so this collection is a veritable goldmine. Full of memorable melodies and quirky lyrics and humor, this is worth a look for fans and newcomers alike. Plus, for the same price as the VHS (a reasonable $14.95), the DVD offers significant added-value features.

 


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