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Big Idea Productions presents
LarryBoy: The Angry Eyebrows (2002)

"Oh LarryBoy, we need you now, to show the way, to save the day, to save the town. Now from the cave, the tires squeal, and to the rescue comes the cucumber of steel."
- Theme Song

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: April 02, 2002

Stars: Phil Vishcer, Lisa Vischer, Mike Nawrocki
Other Stars: Shari Belgearu, Marc Graue, Lee Marshall, Larry D. Whitaker, Jr.
Director: Larry D. Whitaker, Jr.

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 00h:30m:46s
Release Date: March 19, 2002
UPC: 820413300197
Genre: animation


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

DVD Review

I'm a big fan of the VeggieTales series, a CGI children's show that teaches simple morals (most of them biblically-based, though I wouldn't call them preachy, aside from a few mentions of God and Jesus) through the antics of a bunch of talking vegetables. The animation is never much better than adequate, but the humor is always sublimely satirical, equally appropriate for little kids and adults. I was excited when I saw a new release from the series coming to DVD. But LarryBoy: The Angry Eyebrows isn't your typical produce production. Instead, the creators have brought the characters into the world of traditional 2-D animation, providing a different look and feel to the series, and new visual energy. Unfortunately, some of the charm of the original is lost in the process.

LarryBoy is the alter ego of Larry the Cucumber. His superhero life was first examined in the VeggieTales episodes The Rumor Weed and The Fib from Outer Space, though this cartoon provides more of a backstory for the character. During the day, he's simply Larry, the lowly janitor at the "The Daily Bumble" newspaper offices in Bumblyburg. He's a millionaire, but he stays at the paper to keep his finger on the pulse of the city (never mind that he doesn't have fingers). And why a janitor? Well, it's the only job he's qualified for. When his reporter friend, Jr. Asparagus, or the editor, Bob the Tomato, get a tip on a fishy story, Larry springs into action, becoming LarryBoy, because a hero is needed—and he is that hero.

The premiere episode finds LarryBoy squaring off against Awful Alvin (seems to be a scallion or leek) and his collection of angry eyebrows—flying furry beasts that seek out angry people and latch onto their foreheads, causing them to hold onto their anger forever. LarryBoy must learn just how important it is to forgive and to let go of his anger if he wants to defeat his leafy nemesis.

Remnants of the sophisticated VeggieTales humor remain, providing some in-jokes for the parents, but overall, The Cartoon Adventures are much more of a kids-only affair. Still, grownups will appreciate some of the more subtle humor, like Larry's visits to Superhero School (at the local community college), where he learns along with heroes from neighboring towns, like the Scarlet Tomato ("Isn't that redundant?" asks Larry), who has the power to fly and defy gravity ("Isn't that redundant?" asks Larry). Also witness Awful Alvin's "sidekick," an inanimate floor lamp that he calls Lampy and treats like a typical henchmen. The "Dance with me, Lampy!" scene is one of the most surreal things I've seen this side of a David Lynch film.

Following the feature is a short entitled Fly By Might!, in which Larry, trying to relax on a summer day, is pestered by a persistent fly that he can't quite seem to swat. This mostly dialogue-free clip, with its Chuck Jones-style humor, actually packs in more laughs than the main program.

It seems like the creative team at Big Idea was going for a more simplistic, slapstick type of humor for this new series. While it winds up feeling more like Powerpuff Girls-lite, it's still worthwhile family entertainment.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: LarryBoy looks pretty good on DVD. Colors are rich and vibrant without spearing over-saturated. The image is free from graininess and digital noise, and aliasing is only slightly apparent in a few of the busier scenes. Black level isn't an issues, as there aren't any scenes that necessitate rich blacks. I do notice what appear to be slight edge halos, but their presence may be a part of the animation process, and anyway, they are barely visible.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: A DD 5.1 mix for a kid's video release is a nice surprise, and all the discs so far in the VeggieTales series have been thus blessed. The one here is good enough. The front soundstage carries the brunt of the audio, with dialogue anchored in the center as sounding crisp and natural. There are a lot of cartoony sound effects spread across the mains, with good directionality throughout. The surrounds fill out the mix nicely, as the angry eyebrows flap overhead or the LarryMobile goes zooming by. It isn't impressive in terms of dynamic audio perhaps, but the mix is more that suited to the material.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, Heroes of the Bible, LarryBoy and the Rumor Weed
3 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Storyboards
  2. Character and Background Galleries
  3. Promotional Gallery
  4. Larry-oke Sing-Along
  5. Games: Top Swapper, Bok-Choy's Pop Quiz
Extras Review: The Big Idea people have put together quite a nice little extras package here, with an emphasis on materials for both older and younger viewers. In terms of presentation, the disc features some creative and amusing animated menus. The episode itself has an ample 8 chapters for the brief running time of 30 minutes. English subtitles are provided for the feature, but sadly, not for the extras package.

Extras are broken down into two different menu areas. Secret Stuff houses the more traditional, DVD buff stuff. The Origins of LarryBoy is a four-minute featurette in which Mike Nawrocki (voice of Larry) explains the history of the character, from his introduction in the CGI VeggieTales to his debut in traditional animation. The menu selection Making of a Hero links to a making-of gallery with storyboards, a split-screen story reel comparison, and a brief commentary from character designer Tom Bancroft, presented over still drawings, in which he discusses the steps involved in taking a character from 3-D to 2-D. Bumblyburg offers up three more brief features, including galleries for the characters and set designs and another interview with Tom Bancroft. This one is called Superheroes, and he talks about the fun of designing all the heroes and villains on the show. There's even a preview of the next episode's villain, The Alchemist (and his mom).

Still in the Secret Stuff menu, there's a selection for Promo Materials that offers up a trailer gallery (with spots for the feature, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, Heroes of the Bible, and the VeggieTales episode LarryBoy and the Rumor Weed), along with a gallery of poster and DVD cover designs. Finally, there's Secret ROM Stuff, which allows access to the script and original story treatment for The Angry Eyebrows, provided that you have a DVD-ROM drive, of course.

Selecting Fun! (confident, aren't they?) from the main menu opens up another page of extra features. Top Swapper is a very simplistic game that allows you to put a different head on each of the characters, and it's good for a chuckle or two (Larry with blonde hair was fun, anyway, as he looked like Baz Luhrmann). Self-explanatory is How to Draw Larry, a ten-minute, step by step featurette that also teaches you to draw the evil Awful Alvin, and to differentiate between Larry and LarryBoy. Bok Choy's Pop Quiz is a simple trivia game, and the only reward is "hug time" from Bok Choy, which made me feel all warm inside, to be embraced by a cabbage. Larry-oke presents the opening theme song, minus insanely catchy lyrics, which you can provide yourself by singing along with the subtitles. Finally, ROM Fun promises a link to an exclusive on-line game, but my computer hates PC Friendly, so I can't check it out.

Look for three Larry Heads sprinkled throughout the menus, as selecting them gets you a few quick Easter Eggs, from a still frame of the interior of the LarryMobile to the answer to the question, "What if Lampy played Top Swapper?" I'm sure it has been troubling you for days.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Though not quite as charming as its CGI brethren, LarryBoy is still a pretty decent cartoon for kids (even if it doesn't have quite the same cross-generational appeal). The quirky characters will keep them entertained, and the morals are simple and worthwhile.

 


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