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MOVIE INFO

Director:
-Unknown-
Cast:
Phil Vischer, Lisa Vischer
Writing Credits:
-Unknown-

Synopsis:
Sunday morning values, Saturday morning fun! It’s a tale of good versus evil with beans! Lord of the Beans follows the fantastic journey of a Flobbit named Toto Baggypants (Junior Asparagus) who inherits a most unusual and powerful bean. With the help of his mentor Randall and a spirited group of friends, Toto embarks on a mission to discover how he should use his gift. On their quest, the group encounters many challenges, including crossing the mountains of Much-Snowia, and facing the dreaded Lord Scaryman – who seeks the bean for misguided, selfish reasons. Will Toto discover the purpose of his giver, or will the scary dude and his Spark army capture the bean and wield its awesome powers? Find out in VeggieTales: Lord of the Beans.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 52 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 11/1/2005

Bonus:
• Veggie Commentary with Pa Grape, and Larry the Cucumber
• Behind the Scenes Featurette
• Music Video
• Interview with Wynonna
• Video Trivia
• SingAlong with Larry
• “Lord of the Beans” Game
• “Toto’s Family Activity”
• “The Other Elf’s Secret Cookie Recipe”
• “How to Draw”
• Easter Eggs


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EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


VeggieTales: Lord Of The Beans (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 13, 2005)

With the 2005 release of Lord of the Beans, the folks behind VeggieTales poke gentle fun at the world of The Lord of the Rings. The tale introduces us to a “flobbit” named Toto Baggypants (voiced by Lisa Vischer). He lives with his Uncle Billboy (Phil Vischer), another flobbit who is strangely tall, well dressed and prosperous for that group.

A wizard named Randolf (Phil Vischer) comes to visit for Billboy’s 122nd birthday and Billboy reveals the secret of his success: a magic bean. He decides to leave behind his flashy but empty lifestyle and bequeaths the bean to Toto with the directions to figure out how to use his gift. The movie follows Toto’s attempts to do so and includes adventures he experiences with the Fellowship of the Bean as they try to evade the armies of evil Lord Scaryman (Phil Vischer), another dude who wants the bean’s powers for himself.

In the last VeggieTales movie parody, they took on the Indiana Jones series. While that spoof had some fun references, it suffered from less than subtle exploration of its main theme. It also was short, as the “Cuke” part was only a brief segment in a show filled with other elements.

Bean is more successful on all accounts. For one, it expands the tale to fill most of the 52-minute program. Some of that time gets occupied with opening and closing remarks, and we also get a related “Silly Song” in the middle of the show. Otherwise, the piece sticks with the main story, and that allows it to become more detailed and involving than was the case with “Cuke”.

I think Bean also displays more consistent cleverness. There’s a lot of good material here, with gags that will appeal to Tolkien fans as well as those who know little to nothing about Ring. Sometimes VeggieTales only shoots for big jokes, but here it’s happy to make small asides and other borderline throwaway moments. It seems like one of the more sophisticated VeggieTales programs, which will make it more satisfying for adults.

In addition, Bean doesn’t pummel us with its morals. VeggieTales shows never become relentless in that pursuit, but some are less subtle than others. Bean avoids an assault in that domain and teaches its lesson in a very gentle manner. Yeah, the coda spells things out a bit more clearly, but otherwise, this is a low-key affair.

All of this adds up to one of the more satisfying and entertaining VeggieTales. I’ll be honest: while I liked the first couple of VeggieTales DVDs I saw, subsequent ones were less interesting. Some of that may have come from altered expectations. I went into the series with the anticipation of cheesy Sunday school material and was delighted to see cleverness and gentle irreverence. That meant I viewed other DVDs with higher expectations and didn’t like them as much. Bean reminds me of why I enjoyed those old VeggieTales programs.


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

VeggieTales: Lord of the Bean 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 never seen an unattractive VeggieTales production, and this one consistently looked good.

For prior DVDs, sharpness was occasionally a minor problem, but that wasn’t the case here. The program always looked nicely distinctive and well-defined. Only the smallest hint of softness ever appeared, and those instances were very insubstantial. I noticed no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement caused no concerns. Print flaws also appeared absent during this clean image.

The world of VeggieTales offered a very bright and varied palette, and Bean followed with a strong batch of colors. The tones went with a slightly soft, 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, Bean provided a very satisfying visual experience.

Also fairly strong was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Lord of the Bean. For the most part, this soundfield stayed with an emphasis on the forward spectrum, where it offered nicely broad and engaging audio. Bean provided relatively active audio when compared with most other VeggieTales. 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. For example, the scenes with fireworks or during battles were vivid and involving.

The surrounds also added a fair amount to the mix. The rear speakers kicked in some good material at times. Again, 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. I almost gave this mix an “A-“ but decided it lacked the surround activity necessary for that grade. Still, it’s a quality piece of work.

When we examine the DVD’s supplements, we start with a Veggie Commentary. This includes in-character remarks from Pa Grape, Jimmy Gourd and Larry the Cucumber and lasts seven minutes, 17 seconds as we watch “Bean” scenes. Like other character commentaries, this one takes things from a comedic point of view. It does okay in that regard, as it gives us a few minor chuckles. At least it doesn’t wear out its welcome and run too long.

Next we find a quick glimpse Behind the Scenes. This nine-minute and 13-second program shows clips from the movie and includes interviews with director Mike Nawrocki, writer Phil Vischer, producer David Pitts, musical director Kurt Heinecke. The piece looks at how they chose to spoof Lord of the Rings, selecting characters for various parts, sets and visuals, ad-libbed dialogue, the music, and the show’s theme.

The VeggieTales “Behind the Scenes” featurettes offer a smattering of useful notes but fail to deliver enough information to become very valuable. This one follows that path as it runs through a number of intriguing topics. Unfortunately, it only flirts with them and never engages them to a substantial degree. This is an appetizer, not an entrée.

Creating Lord of the Beans goes for eight minutes and 31 seconds. It features information from animation director Paul Kohut, supervising compositor Alan Kennedy, and supervising SFX editor Justin Drury. They stay with technical issues connected to the art, animation and audio. They tell us about the topics and then give us nice demonstrations. Those elements help make this an informative and enjoyable piece.

A music video appears for “It’s About Love” by Wynonna. It simply runs the song on top of program shots. Since we can already hear it in the show’s end credits, this seems like a useless “video”.

Speaking of the performer, we also get an Interview with Wynonna. This lasts a mere 84 seconds as Wynonna discusses why she took on the project and what she gets out of it. This adds up to virtually no real information; it’s a puffy, pointless clip.

“Bob & Larry’s Playhouse” breaks down into many small bits. Fans can try the Video Trivia at either “easy” or “hard” levels. Actually, both seem equally difficult. The questions are pretty easy, especially since we get video clips with clues before we have to answer. You receive no reward for correct completion, unfortunately.

Next we get a Sing-Along with Larry presentation. This two-minute, 34-second clip shows Larry as he croons 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.

The Lord of the Beans Game offers a simplistic contest. It forces you to choose various paths. Unfortunately, it’s unforgiving and will often send you back to the start. This happened so much that I bailed on it after a few minutes; it wasn’t worth the trouble.

Toto’s Family Activity provides a 108-second clip. It shows a task that kids can do with their parents as it demonstrates how to create a Play-Doh well. I’m not sure why you’d want to do this, but it’s there if you want it. We also get The Other Elf’s Secret Cookie Recipe which shows us make “secret jeweled cookies.”

After this we can learn How to Draw two characters. This teaches how to make Toto (four minutes, 44 seconds) and Leg-O-Lamb (9:23). Both offer reasonably informative and fun tutorials.

Previews boasts a whole bunch of ads. We get promos for Sheerluck Holmes, Larryboy ‘06, Minnesota Cuke, Singing Christmas Tree and Veggie Classics.

In addition, a few Easter Eggs appear on the DVD. From the main menu, highlight the jewel at the bottom of the screen. Clicking on this opens up different main menu options. If you go to the “Bonus Features” domain, click right from “Main Menu”. When you hit enter, you’ll get a four-minute, 38-second piece that shows a story reel for an alternate version of the Razzberry Forest scene.

After some hit or miss projects, Lord of the Beans returns VeggieTales back to a high level of quality. It offers a fun spoof of Lord of the Rings and delivers an understated message. The DVD provides the usual solid picture and audio, but it skimps on extras; not many of them are interesting. Nonetheless, it retails for less then 15 dollars, so it’s a good disc to get.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6764 Stars Number of Votes: 34
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