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BIG IDEA

MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Wahba
Cast:
Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki, Lisa Vischer
Writing Credits:
Tod Carter (developer), Tim Hodge, Mike Nawrocki, Phil Vischer (story), J. Chris Wall (developer)

Synopsis:
While on set filming, Bob the Tomato decides to respond to a fan's letter about "waiting", meanwhile everyone's patience is tested by spitting camels, a confused nurse, an easily distracted film crew, and a host of other laughable filming disasters! Join the comical chaos and calamity in Abe and the Amazing Promise that reminds kids that God always keeps his promises ... even if we have to wait a while!

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Not Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 52 min.
Price: $14.95
Release Date: 2/10/2009

Bonus:
• Studio Commentary with Director John Wahba and Producer J. Chris Wall
• “Making of a Lesson in Patience” Featurette
• “Discussion Guide”
• Art Gallery with Commentary
• VideoTrivia
• “Do You Rememb-ur?” Memory Game
• Silly Song SingAlong
• Interactive Storybook
• How to Draw Abraham and the Boo-Boo Bird
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


VeggieTales: Abe And The Amazing Promise (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 29, 2009)

After an effort set in the world of Mark Twain, VeggieTales returns to Biblical inspirations for 2009’s Abe and the Amazing Promise. Bookends with Junior Asparagus (voiced by Lisa Vischer) and Bob the Tomato (Phil Vischer) frame the material. From there we hear the story of Abraham (Phil Vischer) and his wife Sarah (Delilah).

Though Abe and Sarah enjoy the company of their extended family, they desire children of their own. One day Abe gets a message from God to move elsewhere with the promise that he’ll eventually lead his children. This takes many years, however, and tests Abe’s patience – as well as Junior’s, for he wants the show to end so he can get cookies.

Although that story gets title billing here, it ends around the 18-minute mark. The rest of the show consists of a Silly Song called “Sneeze If You Need To” and a short called “Blunder in Boo-Booville”. These also deal with the concept of patience.

While I like the VeggieTales series, I think the individual episodes can be hit or miss. The Mark Twain-oriented Big River Rescue offered one of their best, largely because it concentrated on one long story. I liked that because it gave the tale room to breathe.

Promise goes with a more standard “collection of shorts” format. That’s generally fine, though I do admit I prefer the more extended program found in River. When VeggieTales goes with the “collection of shorts” method, it tends to lack as much depth. The tales become more heavily focused on plot and don’t allow for as many wacky sidetrips.

This means that Promise feels a bit manic, a fact that seems odd given the DVD’s emphasis on patience. All of the components zip so rapidly that they don’t really accentuate the theme. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Junior to have to suck it up for a longer period to really illustrate his need to be patient? The main story ends so quickly that it somewhat subverts the theme.

At the series’ best, it conveys gentle parables that teach lessons without heavy-handed elements. These shows convey their messages but avoid seeming pedantic or overly righteous. Sometimes the VeggieTales make their goals a little too obvious, though, and that occurs here, especially in regard to the main tale. The parts with Abe concentrate on patience and Junior’s desire to rush so much that they lose great appeal and depth.

Some of the other components fare a little better. “Blunders” tells of an impatient inventor and it depicts the dangers of impatience in a more compelling manner than “Promise”. It’s also funnier and more entertaining. It’s also considerably longer than “Promise”, as it goes for more than 26 minutes.

While I’m not wild about the “Promise” segment itself, I do like its format. It tells the tale in a documentary manner that makes it unusual. Instead of the standard Bible story, it offers a clever twist.

All of this leaves us with a decent VeggieTales DVD. After the pleasures of Big River Rescue, I view Promise as a disappointment; it has some good moments, but it doesn’t match up with its more complex and rich predecessor. Still, it’s reasonably entertaining and will likely appeal to the series’ fans.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

VeggieTales: Abe and the Amazing Promise appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I’ve watched a lot of VeggieTales DVDs, and they all tend to look a lot alike. That trend continued with Abe.

For the most part, the show looked crisp and detailed. However, the image was a little fuzzy at the edges on occasion and lacked terrific clarity of past shows. Some jagged edges appeared, and a few examples of moiré effects occurred as well; these were minor but occasionally noticeable. Edge enhancement was modest, but print flaws appeared absent during this clean image.

The world of VeggieTales offered a very bright and varied palette, and Promise followed with a strong batch of colors. The tones went with a pastel look, and the DVD replicated these well. The hues were clear and distinctive. Black levels were also nicely deep and rich, and though shadow detail was only a minor consideration, all of those sorts of shots came across as appropriately clean and visible. Ultimately, Promise provided a satisfying visual experience.

Also fairly strong was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Promise. For the most part, this soundfield stayed with an emphasis on the forward spectrum, where it offered nicely broad and engaging audio. Promise provided relatively active audio. Elements moved nicely across the front and formed a good feeling of environment. The effects meshed together well, especially during the show’s action sequences.

The surrounds also added a fair amount to the mix. The rear speakers kicked in some good material at times. The action sequences worked best and contributed a fun feel.

Sound quality seemed consistent with prior releases. Audio quality seemed to be fine across the board. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural, and it showed no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, and when appropriate they came to life quite vividly. Bass response was loud and deep. This was a good track that contributed to the effectiveness of the piece.

If you’ve watched other VeggieTales DVDs, you’ll know what to expect from the extras of Promise. We start in the “Behind the Scenes” area with an audio commentary from director John Wahba and producer J. Chris Wall, both of whom sat together for this running, screen-specific piece. They discuss story and character notes, animation issues, influences, songs and score, the actors and performances, the use of a documentary style, story subjects/changes, and various challenges.

The other VeggieTales commentaries have been inconsistent, so I was pleased to find a pretty good chat here. On the negative side, Wahba and Wall occasionally just narrate the show, but they don’t do that often. They usually give us nice notes about the project and make this a likable chat.

Next we find Making of A Lesson in Patience. This seven-minute and 35-second program shows clips from the movie and includes remarks from Wahba, Roberts, director of music Kurt Heinecke, and VP of Development Mike Nawrocki. They give us some thoughts about the cast, characters and stories, set design, music and general themes. A few decent facts emerge here, but we don’t get a lot of novel info. The commentary touches on things pretty well, so “Making” becomes a bit flat.

A few text questions appear under Discussion Guide. This is simply a way for families to chat about various issues with the kids.

The “Behind the Scenes” area finishes with an Art Gallery. It features 13 screens and comes with commentary from art director Joe Spadaford and lead concept artist Chuck Vollmer. You can skip through the art at will or just let it run with the narration. We see concept and character drawings while we learn about the various design topics. I like the art and think the notes offer good explanations of the choices.

More extras appear in the “Fun and Games” section. Fans can try the Video Trivia at either “easy” or “hard” levels. The “easy” items are made even simpler because the game shows you clips with the answers before you must reply; they’re so simple that they’re almost insulting. The “hard” part works the same way, as it also provides video hints in advance; the answers are simply a little less obvious. Neither series of questions provide a challenge.

If you get through the “Trivia”, you get two rewards. There’s a coupon you can use at the Big Idea web store and also a “Bonus Clip” that provides a blooper reel. I’m happy that you actually get a prize for success here, as most prior VeggieTales trivia games lacked any such rewards; it’s not particularly interesting, but it’s better than nothing.

A memory game called Can You Rememb-ur? appears here. It shows five drawings of sheep and requires you to identify specific ones. If you succeed, you can watch a “bonus clip” that shows the original scene of the mad scientist playing the organ. The memory game isn’t tough, but it’s not totally easy, so it’s cool that it comes with a reward.

Next we get a Sing-Along presentation for “Sneeze If You Need To”. This two-minute, 59-second clip shows the veggies as they croon the song. It displays the lyrics at the bottom of the screen, and the audio button allows you to turn on or off the vocals. It does nothing for me, but kids might enjoy it.

After this we locate an Interactive Storybook for Babysitter in DeNile. This allows you to read the tale independently or have it read to you. The presentation seems somewhat static but at least it offers the voice of Larry to narrate.

Next we learn How to Draw two characters. This teaches how to make Abraham (11 minutes, 17 seconds) and the Boo-Boo Bird (7:56). Both offer reasonably informative and fun tutorials.

An ad for The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything opens the DVD. It also appears in the Previews area along with clips for Heroes of the Bible III, 3-2-1 Penguins: Blast in Space,3-2-1 Penguins: Save the Planets, Tomato Sawyer and Huckleberry Larry’s Big River Rescue, MOPS, and Operation Christmas Child.

While not one of the best VeggieTales shows, Abe and the Amazing Promise remains reasonably entertaining. I think it telegraphs its theme more than I’d like, but it still amuses and delivers an enjoyable program. The DVD offers typically good picture and audio along with a nice little collection of supplements highlighted by a solid audio commentary. This isn’t the best VeggieTales product I’ve seen, but it’s pretty good.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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