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Big Idea Productions presents
VeggieTales: Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson's Hairbrush (2005)

Marten: God wanted Samson to be very special, so Samson had to make certain promises to God.
Minnesota Cuke: Promises?
Marten: Yeah, he couldn't touch dead things, or eat grapes, or cut his hair.
Minnesota Cuke: That's weird.

- Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: June 28, 2005

Stars: Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki
Other Stars: Lisa Vischer, Kristen Blegen, Ally Nawrocki, Brian K. Roberts, Dan Anderson, Cydney Trent, Tim Hodge
Director: Tim Hodge

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (vitamin-enriched morals, wholesome values)
Run Time: 00h:42m:56s
Release Date: June 28, 2005
UPC: 074645879697
Genre: animation


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

DVD Review

The 22nd title in Big Idea Production's long-running talking-vegetables-teach-Christian-values video series VeggieTales, Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson's Hairbrush isn't quite as much fun as some of the earlier installments (and certainly not as fast-paced or zany as you'd expect an Indiana Jones parody to be), but it offers another worthwhile biblical lesson via everyone's favorite clueless cucumber, Larry, and that ain't bad.

The lesson of the day is dealing with bullies. The show starts with a short segment in which Junior Asparagus must fend off a bully at the park. He imagines himself as a space explorer defeating the bully as a giant alien before Dad wanders in to argue God wants people to love their enemies, which aids Junior next time he encounters the meanie (a gourd, if you were wondering... named Gordon, too). There aren't a lot of laughs, but Junior's fantasy sequences stand out, as the typical "realistic" CGI sets are replaced with hand drawn backdrops that show off the ever more impressive technical wizardry from the homegrown animators at Big Idea.

Next, it's time for Silly Songs with Larry (the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song, naturally). This installment features a cute 1950's ditty Pizza Angel, in which Larry longs for his dinner delivery ("It's taken so long, where could it be? Had a 30 minute guarantee!") in full on Leader of the Pack mode.

Then it's on to the main attraction. Larry plays Minnesota Cuke, an adventurer who we meet as he's about to procure the mythic golden nose of the Abominable Snowman of the North (hey, they needed an excuse for him to run away from a big rolling ball, right?). His archeological prize is snatched away at the last second by the devious Professor Rattan. Cuke goes in search of the hairbrush of Samson, rumored to give him power he thinks will help him defeat every bully in the world. But, as Bob the Tomato helpfully notes, God doesn't want people to bludgeon their enemies into submission. At least, not New Testament God. Watch out for Old Testament God though. Except the story of Samson is Old Testament, so those Big Idea guys must just be screwing with me.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, Minnesota Cuke leans pretty heavily on the bible for its lesson, even if it's woven into a fairly clever parody/send-up of some Harrison Ford movies, making it an ideal choice for Christian families, though the lesson is universal enough that anyone could watch it without getting self-righteously indignant, I think. The animation is superb—the animators continue to top themselves with every outing—and the script includes some amusing gags and jokes hidden in the background, so parents will be entertained as well.

In terms of technical specs, this disc really shows off Big Idea's artistic advancements with a crystal clear image with eye-popping colors and great detail and textures. The DD 5.1 audio mix is fairly front-heavy, particular during Junior's short, but there is some lively surround use during Minnesota Cuke's adventures.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno
Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Lord of the Beans, Sheerluck Holmes, Larryboy Returns, Duke & the Great Pie War
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Tim Hodge, series co-creator Mike Nawrocki, and producer David Pitts
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Art gallery
  2. Charlie Daniels music video and interview
  3. Recipe
  4. "How to draw" featurettes
  5. Video trivia, interactive game, family activity
Extras Review: Big Idea really puts a lot of effort into their DVD releases, and this one is a treat for fans of the series. Extras are divided into two categories; the more substantial material can be found under the header Bonus Features.

The best extra is the "studio commentary" with director Tim Hodge, series' co-creator Mike Nawrocki, and producer David Pitts. The three chat animatedly (of course) about putting the show together and point out all of the hidden gags and inside jokes. There's also an amusing, selected scenes "veggie commentary" from Mr. Lunt, Petunia, and Larry the Cucumber, which is kind of fun, though it lasts only five minutes.

The six-minute Behind the Scenes features interviews with the Big Idea creative team and focuses on the genesis of the story and its moral themes rather than "how did they do that?" CGI talk.

This section also includes an art gallery with artist commentary, a music video from Charlie Daniels plus a brief interview with the musician), an Audio Progression Reel (7m:40s) that explains how the audio track is created from scratch, and a gallery of production art with artist commentary on each still.

The rest of the bonuses are housed under Family Fun. They include trivia questions, a sing-a-long, an interactive storybook (A Knight to Remember, an interactive game, and instructions on how to draw Minnesota Cuke and the bully Gordon. There are also video instructions for a family activity that reinforces the message of the story and a recipe for a dessert called "Worms in the Mud" that looks better than it sounds, sort of. The ingredients include Double Stuf Oreos, confectioner's sugar, cream cheese, a full container of Cool Whip, gummi worms, and a shot of insulin for your now-diabetic child.

Closing out the disc are previews for upcoming releases: The Lord of the Beans, Sheerluck Holmes, and Larryboy Returns, and the recent Duke & the Great Pie War.

The menus are fully animated and include a few funny sound bites, and there are a number of Easter eggs hidden on the bonus material pages.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Minnesota Cuke is never quite as much fun as you'd expect, but all in all, it's a nice addition to the VeggieTales Library and a good choice for parents interested in imparting some Christian values to their children via vegetable trickery. The DVD is a winner, too, with bonus features fit for the whole family.

 


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