Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie is a 2002 American computer-animated Christian musical comedy adventure film produced by Big Idea Productions and released by Artisan Entertainment through its F.H.E. Pictures label. It is the first feature-length film in the VeggieTales series. The themes for the film are compassion and mercy, using two stories as illustrations. The first takes place in the current day and concerns a mishap with Bob the Tomato and Dad Asparagus on the way to a concert; the second, set in ancient Israel, is based directly on the biblical story of Jonah. Through both stories, compassionate and mercy play a role in giving people a second chance. The film also features the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything in both segments who were first seen in the Silly Song of the same name in Very Silly Songs!.
Most of the animation was done in house by Big Idea Productions. Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie premiered on August 14, 2002, at a Hollywood movie theater and came out as a regular release two months later on October 4, 2002. The film also came out on VHS and DVD on March 4, 2003, as a worldwide home video release in both full-screen and anamorphic widescreen formats with a two-disc collector's edition. A DVD reprint with the feature and bonus features was released on January 29, 2008, by Word Entertainment and on Blu-ray in 2011 by Lionsgate (Artisan's successor), another reprint was released in 2018 by Universal Pictures (Big Idea's current parent company). It received mixed to positive reviews from critics and grossed $25.6 million against a $14 million production budget.
Bob the Tomato and Dad Asparagus are driving Junior Asparagus, Laura Carrot, Annie, and Percy Pea to a concert hosted by kids' singer, Twippo. Laura, who has won a contest to see Twippo backstage, keeps taunting her friends about it, particularly annoying Junior. Meanwhile, Bob is frustrated with Dad Asparagus due to him singing songs and playing his guitar instead of helping him with the map. Despite Dad Asparagus telling her not to tease her friends about her ticket, Laura continues to taunt Junior, waving her ticket around in his face. Dad Asparagus accidentally hits Bob and Laura then loses her ticket, after which the group runs into a family of porcupines in which they pop out the tires. They crash at the bottom of a hill and become lost. Luckily, as everyone gets out of the van, they see a seafood restaurant.
They head to the restaurant to call a tow truck and grab a bite to eat. Upon entering, arguments break out: Bob blames Dad Asparagus for making the van lose control in the forest, and Junior blames Laura for losing her ticket. As he sits down, he is greeted by The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, who tell him that what he said was merciless. They emphasize on their stance by telling him the story of Jonah.
Jonah (played by Archibald Asparagus) is a Prophet from Israel who goes from town to town delivering God's messages. But when God asks him to deliver a message to Nineveh, he resents Him and runs away to Tarshish with the Pirates, who reluctantly agree to take him on their ship when he pays them. Below deck, he meets Khalil the Caterpillar, a traveling Persian rug salesman, who rants about how great Jonah is and decides to travel with him.
After waking up from a nightmare, Jonah finds the ship beset by a great storm. After a losing game of Go Fish, he admits to fleeing from God and is forced to walk the plank when Khalil sends their outboard motor overboard. With Jonah off the ship, the skies clear immediately. The Pirates attempt to reel him back in, but a whale swallows him (with the lifebelt attached to him). The Pirates fire their cannon at the whale but are forced to use a bowling ball (with Khalil inside it) as ammo. The whale merely swallows the ball, disgorges the lifebelt, and swims away.
Inside the whale, Khalil finds Jonah saddened that he is going to die for disobeying God, but they are visited by a host of God's messengers. They explain that if Jonah repents, then God will grant him a second chance too. He and Khalil are spit up onto the shore and are met by Jonah's camel Reginald. Together, they ride to Nineveh.
After Jonah is denied entrance to the city, the Pirates appear. They explain that they spent all the money Jonah gave them on Mr. Twisty's Twisted Cheese Curls and won a sweepstakes, giving them free access to Nineveh where the Cheese Curls are produced. They sneak Jonah into the city disguised as winners of the sweepstakes, thought they are all promptly arrested for Larry's theft of the King's personal Cheese Twists. After being sentenced to death by "the Fish Slap of No Return", they are granted an audience with King Twistomer (played by Apollo Gourd). When King Twistomer hears that Jonah has survived inside a whale, he reluctantly agrees to listen to his message. Jonah delivers the message given to him by God. He tells them they should repent and amend their ways, or Nineveh will be destroyed. King Twistomer and the Ninevites quickly repent.
Still expecting the Ninevites to be destroyed, Jonah watches and waits from a distance. Khalil is disappointed in Jonah, and tries to explain to him that God is compassionate and merciful. But Jonah, feeling pathetic and self-important, can't accept that. The story ends with Khalil and Reginald leaving Jonah alone on a cliff overlooking the city.
Back in the present day, the Veggies are disappointed in the anticlimactic ending but come to understand the point of the story - that God wants everybody to show compassion and mercy, even to those that don't seem to deserve it. Twippo (also played by Archibald Asparagus) appears in the restaurant unexpectedly and offers to give everybody a lift to the concert, while Bob forgives Dad Asparagus and Junior gives his Twippo ticket to Laura. The film ends with Twippo and the Pirates performing a musical number as well as the arrival of the tow truck driver (played by Khalil), whom Twippo seems to remember meeting during the Jonah story.
- Bob the Tomato
- Mike Asparagus
- Junior Asparagus
- Laura Carrot, Annie, and Percy Pea (the supporting characters)
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (the tritagonists)
- Archibald Asparagus (the main protagonist)
- Khalil the Caterpillar, a traveling Persian rug salesman (the deuteragonist)
- Bob, Pa Grape, Mr. Lunt, Archibald Asparagus - Phil Vischer
- Mike Asparagus - Dan Anderson
- Junior Asparagus - Lisa Vischer
- Laura Carrot - Kristen Blegen
- Larry the Cucumber - Mike Nawrocki
- Khalil - Tim Hodge
- Billy Joe McGuffrey
- Bald Bunny
- Steak and Shrimp
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
- Message From The Lord
- It Cannot Be
- Second Chances
- Jonah Was A Prophet
- Belly of the Whale
- Credits Song
History and Production
Phil and Mike originally planned to do a 45-minute VeggieTales episode about Noah's Ark. But because animating animal fur is difficult, the story was switched over to Jonah due to water being easier to animate. After a long script writing, the team decided that the "episode" should be a feature-length film. All the characters for the movie were made in 1999, but production didn't begin until a year later due to the lack of people at Big Idea. They would eventually do an adaptation on Noah later.
After the film's release, Big Idea filed for bankruptcy. One of the main reasons behind the decision was the film being considered a financial failure, as the company gained only $12-13,000,000 of the film's box office revenue. This led the company to be purchased by Classic Media.
After the company's bankruptcy and buyout, Phil Vischer stepped down as president of Big Idea. He continued his voice acting work for VeggieTales throughout the series' run, and worked as a writer for various episodes up until 2009, with the last script he helped write being Pistachio - The Little Boy That Woodn't. He later returned as a writer and executive producer for The VeggieTales Show in 2019.
Jonah was released on October 4, 2002 in 940 theaters, debuting at sixth place with $6.2 million in its first weekend of release. It fell -40.9% in its second weekend, falling to eleventh place with $3.7 million.
At the end of its theatrical run, the film had grossed over $25.6 million worldwide.
Based on 56 reviews collected by review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 66% of critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.86/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Jonah teaches wholesome messages to children in a funny, bouncy package." At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100 based on 20 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Pete Croatto of the now-defunct Filmcritic.com praised the film as "a blast of educational energy", later citing it as an example of the surprises critics can find in viewing every film they can regardless of expected quality.
It was released on DVD and VHS by Artisan Entertainment for the U.S. mass market, Alliance Atlantis for the Canadian mass market and Chordant Distribution Group for the Christian bookstore market on March 4th, 2003. The original English release had both fullscreen and widescreen versions. The Mexican Spanish dub is available on the DVD and was also released on VHS in the United States by Chordant Distribution Group on the same date. A second English release distributed by Word Entertainment came out in January 29th, 2008, and contained the film and bonus features on one disc, except for the Widescreen option and easter eggs. Jonah was released on Blu-ray by Lionsgate on March 8th, 2011, along with yet another DVD release from the same company. This DVD is identical to the 2003 release's first disc, save for the packaging and DVD label.
The film would also be featured in various collections distributed by Vivendi Entertainment starting in 2010, including the Lessons for a Lifetime! triple feature, double features with An Easter Carol and The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, as well as being featured in the "Movies!" disc for the VeggieTales Library II.
On October 16, 2018, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment re-distributed the film on DVD. The contents on the disc are identical to the DVD produced by Word Entertainment. Universal had also included the film in the 25th Anniversary 10-Movie Collection.
- 約拿傳：蔬果仔樂園大電影 (Cantonese) (subtitled)
- Povrtnići: Jonine avanture (Croatian)
- Dobrodružství pirátů v zeleninové zemi (Czech)
- Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (Dutch) (subtitled)
- Joonase Lood (Estonian)
- Jonas et les Végétaloufs (French)
- იონა: ბოსტნეულის ზღაპარი (Georgian) (unconfirmed)
- Ο Μικρός Ιωνάς: Οι ΚηποΦατσούλες σε Νέες Περιπέτειες (Greek)
- יונה סיפור ירק (Hebrew)
- Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (Hindi)
- Jónás és a Zöldségmesék (Hungarian)
- Jónas: Saga um grænmeti (Icelandic)
- Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (Indonesian) (subtitled)
- Jonah: Un film dei Verdurini (Italian)
- へっぽこヒーロー大冒険!! ～ジョナ くじらに飲まれる～ (Japanese)
- 야채극장 베지테일 (Korean)
- Jona: Piedzīvojumi Dārzeņu Valstībā (Latvian) (voiceover)
- Jonos Istorijos: Daržovių Šalyje (Lithuanian) (voiceover)
- 約拿 (Mandarin) (Taiwanese) (dub)
- 蔬菜歷險記 (Mandarin) (Taiwanese) (subtitled)
- داستان سبزیجات (Persian)
- Wieloryb i piraci (Polish)
- Jonah e Os Vegetais (Portuguese) (Brazil)
- Histórias de Vegetais: O Filme (Portuguese) (Portugal)
- Приключения Пиратов в Стране Овощей (Russian) (dub)
- Джона: Овощная мультяшка (Russian) (voiceover)
- Jona in velika riba (Slovenian)
- Jonás: Una Película de los VeggieTales (Spanish) (Latin America)
- โจนาห์: ภาพยนตร์ของ "แก๊งผัก" (Thai) (subtitled)
- Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (Turkish)
- Giô-na Phiêu Lưu Ký (Vietnamese)
- Everybody deserves a second chance.
- According to some concept art in the behind the scenes feature on the DVD, the whale was going to have a scary look. It was then changed to what it looks like now to prevent scaring children.
- There were a few differences between the trailers and final version:
- The lines from the teaser are retained, but done in a different manner.
- Jonah screaming after being blown from the whale was absent.
- Khalil screaming, and his line "What a trip!" was absent.
- Jonah was beside the ship, while the whale was swimming underwater in the background. (see image here)
- This is the last production of VeggieTales to have Gail Freeman-Bock as a voice actress.
- In the early draft of the script, Pa Grape was going to be the king of Nineveh. Because he would have duel roles as the Captain Pa and king of Nineveh, the writers went back in the script to change the role of the king.
- Moby Blasters, the arcade game featured in the beginning of the restaurant scene, would actually be made into an online game for Big Idea's now defunct official website.
- The part where Pa Grape explains about Nineveh was animated by Callabash Animation.
- The "Turn Back" guy was voiced by Ron Smith.
- This is the first full-length VeggieTales production to be released entirely in 16:9 widescreen, as previously, only Larry's High Silk Hat was released in widescreen as a bonus feature for the DVD of Lyle the Kindly Viking.
- Before Archibald, Bob, Larry, and Junior were considered for the role of Jonah.
- The Cheese Curls were originally going to be called Leafies. Mike Nawrocki stated this in the commentary of The Ballad of Little Joe.
- Amusingly enough, "Drive Into The River, Bob" is one of the songs credited at the end and is even given a copyright of "©2002 Bob and Larry Publishing."
- In the Slovenian and European Portuguese dubs, the Credits Song uses an instrumental version.
- This film is the first work created by Big Idea to have a descriptive audio track, with a voiceover describing everything happening on the screen. The track was produced by Deluxe Entertainment with funding from Universal, and was narrated by voice actress Laura Post.
- On the 2-disc DVD release, the preview option has a preview for the movie itself.
- The whale was apparently able to swallow entire ships as some can be seen in its stomach.
- In one shot where the Veggies except Bob were singing about Billy, Percy's hat was seen floating.
- Dad Asparagus's head clips through the ceiling as he walks in.
- Mr. Lunt is missing his beard and clothes in some scenes.
- During the Second Chances song, one of the angel's hairstyle kept changing at the parts "Praise the Lord, he's the God of Second Chances." and "Be Restored from your darkened circumstances."
- In the Czech and Latin Spanish dubs, the carrot kid is not heard laughing, but still moves as if she is.
- In the European Portuguese dub, one of Jonah's lines is not dubbed; his mouth still moves, but he is not heard saying anything.
- Most of the Pirates' conversation in the seafood restaurant (when they are not visible) is not dubbed either.
- The van that Bob drives was first used as a background extra in Larry-Boy! and the Fib from Outer Space! It was also modeled after a real van that Ron Smith drove during his early years at Big Idea.
- Mr. Twisty's voice is actually Goliath's voice.
- Archibald's line "It's my fault! All my fault! I'm the one to blame!" had previously been uttered in The End of Silliness?.
- The extras were later used in later VeggieTales episodes.
Real World References
- Alf was an American sitcom about a furry alien who stays with a middle class family after his ship crash-lands at their garage.
- In the teasers, the narrator mentions "Jaws," "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," and "Free Willy."
- The scene where Jonah was walking through the dessert was inspired by "Lawrence of Arabia."
- Khalil may be similar to the Peddelar from Disney's Aladdin.
- One of the stands Jonah goes to during Message From The Lord changes to a coffee stand called Joppa Java. This is most likely a reference to Starbucks Coffee, as the logos look very similar.
- Bob's van is modeled after a Volkswagen Type 2 van.