Big Idea Wiki
Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie
Directed by

Phil Vischer
Mike Nawrocki

Produced by

Ameake Owens

Written by

Phil Vischer
Mike Nawrocki

Music by

Kurt Heinecke

Distributed by

Artisan Entertainment


August 14, 2002
(film premiere)
September 19, 2002
(Franklin, TN)
October 4, 2002
(regular release)
March 4, 2003
(home video release)


83 minutes

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 (with the 2000 and 2003 releases of Terminator 2 Judgement Day (1991) through its F.H.E. Pictures label (which is also made the Barbie series including "Barbie in the Nutcracker", "Barbie as Rapunzel" and "Barbie of Swan Lake"). 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, compassion 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, with additional animation being provided by Calabash Animation. 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.[1]


Bob the Tomato and Dad Asparagus are driving Junior Asparagus, Laura Carrot, Annie, and Percy Pea to a concert hosted by the kids' singer, Twippo. Laura taunts her friends as she tells them she is the only one who will get to meet Twippo, since she won the Twippo Sweepstakes contest and got a backstage pass, much to the annoyance of Junior. Meanwhile, Bob is frustrated with Dad due to him singing songs and playing his guitar instead of helping him with the map. Despite Dad telling her not to tease her friends about her ticket, Laura continues to taunt Junior, waving her ticket around in his face. Dad accidentally hits Bob and Laura then loses her ticket, after which the group encounters a family of porcupines. They pop out the tires, which leads to them crashing at the bottom of a hill and becoming 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 angrily berates Dad for hitting him with his guitar and making the van lose control in the forest (for which it was just an accident), and Junior also berates Laura for taunting him about her ticket. Soon, the gang is greeted by the French Peas, who take Bob, Junior, and Laura upstairs so that they could take their order, while Annie goes to the bathroom, Percy goes to play Moby Blaster, and Dad goes to call his wife. Bob leaves to call for a tow truck, and Junior continues to berate Laura. Laura, having had enough of Junior's cold words, decides to follow Bob, leaving Junior all alone. As he looks at the menu, Junior is confused when he sees the word "Compassion". He is then 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, a town notorious for its mean and infighting population, 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 violent storm. After a losing game of Go Fish, he admits to fleeing from God and is forced to walk the plank. 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 to his sulking 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 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, who is none other than Khalil.




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. They would eventually do an adaptation on Noah later. While Phil began writing the next Larry-Boy episode, Mike began writing the script for the 45-minute story. He came up with the idea of creating a modern-day framework with Bob and Mike Asparagus taking several kids to a concert. When Phil saw that Mike was on page 17, and still wasn't on the story of Jonah, he decided that the "episode" should be a feature-length film. The original script was completed in April 1999,[2] but production didn't begin until a year later due to the lack of people at Big Idea. In order to get more funds for Jonah, Big Idea started creating several spin-off/live shows.

Because Big Idea had also started work on another VeggieTales episode, production on Jonah fell behind schedule. Towards the end of production, there were several issues when rendering and lighting the film, including certain shots being absorbed by the render farm. Because of this, Big Idea had to rent an extra room at the other end of Yorktown Center as a second render farm, causing the number of rendering computers to triple in size. Around 12 or 13 temporary lighting artists had to be hired, most of whom had just finished work on Ice Age or Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Both of these factors resulted in the budget increasing.

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, which wasn't enough to cover Artisan's distribution budget & their production budget. 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.


Box Office

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. There was only one foreign market in Russia, which reportly earned $27,000.

Critical response

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."[3] At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100 based on 20 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[4]

Pete Croatto of the now-defunct 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.[5][6]

Home media

Main article: Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie/Home Video

It was released on DVD and VHS by Artisan Entertainment for the U.S. mass market, Alliance Atlantis for the Canadian mass market, and both Chordant Distribution Group and EMI Music Distribution 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 February of 2008, and contained the film and bonus features on one disc, but no Widescreen option and easter eggs. Jonah was released on Blu-ray by Lionsgate Home Entertainment 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. A separate DVD release for the Mexican Spanish dub was also released on the same date.

The film would also be featured in various collections 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 on 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.

DVD and Blu-ray re-releases for the film's 20th anniversary were released on November 8, 2022 and December 20, 2022 through Studio Distribution Services, including the entire episode of Jonah Sing-Along Songs and More! as a bonus feature, alongside a few new extras.


Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie/Features

Trailer Appearances

Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie/Trailer-Teaser Appearances

Other Languages

Television Airings

  • This film aired on TBN in 2007.
  • This film also aired on Smile from 2015 to present.

Fun Facts


  • God gives everybody a second chance


  • In the original Bible story, Jonah is swallowed by a "large fish" and then vomitted out upon order by God after 3 days and 3 nights. It remains unknown what species of fish it was, but most culture even today interprets it as a whale, hence one being used here.
    • The "large fish" section of the story, as well as others, has left it open to interpretation that the Book of Jonah may have originally been satire aimed at "Separationists" who believed that God would destroy those who disobeyed him, including their cities. If this is the case, it may have been admitted into the Hebrew Bible by sages who misunderstood the satirical nature of the story.
  • 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 when falling, and his line "What a trip!" after he landed, were absent from the same scene as Jonah having landed on the beach. However, both exist as separate lines elsewhere in the movie, with the former becoming his line "IIIII'M COMING, TRAVELLING BUDDYYYYYYY!!!"
    • Jonah was beside the ship, while the whale was swimming underwater in the background. (see image here)
  • This is the only feature-length movie of VeggieTales to be animated at Big Idea.
  • This is the only feature-length movie of VeggieTales to be dubbed in Bengali, Cantonese, Croatian, European Portuguese, Korean, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese.
  • This is Mabel's last appearance to date.
    • This is also the last production of VeggieTales to have Gail Freeman-Bock as a voice actress.
  • This is the last production of VeggieTales to have Grandpa George and Penelope to be done at Big Idea.
  • This was the first time Laura was seen wearing a main outfit in blue, and Annie wearing a pink blouse and a matching skirt with blue polka dots.
  • There were a few differences between pre-production and the final version:
    • In the early draft of the script, Pa Grape was going to be the king of Nineveh. Because he would have dual roles as the Captain Pa and king of Nineveh, the writers went back in the script to change the role of the king. This may've been before the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything were brought in, though.
    • As seen in the behind-the-scenes featurette on the Jonah Sing-Along Songs and More! VHS, the flag on the Pirates' ship was black with an oval on it. This was later changed to blue with the same tic-tac-toe pattern as Pa's hat in the film itself.
    • 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.
    • Jonah was going to say "Stop being mean" when giving out his message to the Ninevites. Additionally, his lines "Stop cheating" and "Stop lying" were swapped around.
  • 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.
  • Amusingly enough, "Drive Into The River, Bob" & "Ding Dong" are songs credited at the end and are even given a copyright of "©2002 Bob and Larry Publishing."
  • In the Slovenian, European Portuguese, and Croatian 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, who would later be known for voicing Kasumi Yoshizawa from Persona 5 Royal.[7]
  • This is the only instance of VeggieTales to be dubbed in Hindi.
  • The shot of the veggie passengers after the Car turns away from the Cabin before hiting the Underwear would sometime in the 2010s become an internet meme.


  • 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.
  • Contrary to cartoon standards, porcupines cannot shoot quills in real life.
  • If you slow it down when Laura loses her ticket out the window, Junior is seen with a happy face.
  • Philip says that the phone is next to the Moby Blaster, but on the shot with the Moby Blaster, there is no phone.
  • It is unknown how Reginald caught up to Jonah on his way to Nineveh, even though he stayed back.
  • Khalil says he sells rugs, but the rugs are too small for veggies to use.
  • There are several segments which are drawn instead of being in CGI, such as the Nineveh panorama.
  • In the song Message From the Lord, during the "And if we follow God's command" part, a Ninevite is seen dancing with the Israelites as well.
  • The quote "Didn't I tell you to get off my ship" implies that Pa Grape had met Khalil in the past, though he debuted in the movie.
  • Although not a goof, you can see Jimmy lacks a stem for a second when the Message of the Lord song ends.
  • When Jonah was on Hulu, they stated that the movie was from 2003 (when it was released on VHS and DVD), but the movie was actually made in 2002.
  • On the 12-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, Jonah Was a Prophet was low-pitched for unknown reasons.



Error in Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, where Mr. Lunt's beard and clothes are missing, along with his sideburns.

Screen Shot 2023-09-10 at 5.01

Jonah's (and Mr. Lunt's) hat are changed back when they come on to The Slap of No Return.

  • 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.
  • On the view toward the seafood restaurant, a bridge is shown behind it but disappears in the next shot.
  • Mr. Lunt is missing his beard and clothes in some scenes. Also, when Mr. Lunt tells Junior that he is not being nice to Laura, his sideburns are missing along with his amber hair.
  • Though may be intentional, the angels' earrings are floating.
  • In one shot where it focuses on Mr. Lunt, Larry & Pa Grape disappear from aside him.
  • 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."
  • The Pirates get arrested in Nineveh by the soldiers and another soldier walks up to Jonah and knocks him out with a fish. When all this happens, Jonah and Mr. Lunt are wearing each others hats, but when they come on to The Slap of No Return, they are wearing their own hats again. Would the soldiers change their hats?
  • When Jonah and the pirates enter Nineveh, Jonah and Mr. Lunt are wearing the wrong hats. Though it is possibly because Mr. Lunt lets Jonah to wear his cheese curl hat and the turban on his head.
  • 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.
  • Similarly, in the Latin Spanish dub, Khalil's line, "Halibut?" isn't dubbed, either.
  • Jonah’s eyes disappear and reappear randomly in every frame.
  • When playing back the 2003 and the 2011 Lionsgate DVDs on certain DVD players or computer DVD player software, after you select the Play Movie option, after the camera moves backwards and when the cannon shoots at a screen, the bowling ball appears to be stuck to the camera after the screen freezes. This does not occur on all machines.
  • Larry says he is good at ping pong despite singing that he is not too good at that in the Pirates' song.

Inside References

  • 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.
  • The van crashing and Bob getting mad at Junior's dad for it is similar to how he got mad at Larry for smashing the boat in Larry's Lagoon. Coincidentally, Junior's dad was the same character Bob got mad at for hitting him with a coconut in that story.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything silly song is heard when Jonah hears their ship.
  • If you look closely at the envelopes that Jimmy carries in the Joppa scenes, the return address is Big Idea's address from their original Lombard location.
  • According to Mr. Lunt in the character commentary for the movie, Mr. Twisty's voice is actually that of Goliath.
  • Bob's line "Did you say something?" had been previously uttered by Archibald in Larry's Lagoon and also by Zidgel in The Amazing Carnival of Complaining.
  • Mr. Lunt's line "Oh, you know that's right" had already been uttered by Mr. Nezzer in Rack, Shack and Benny.
  • 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?.
  • Larry's line "I bought a whole chocolate factory with no money down." in the character commentary had previously been uttered in Very Silly Songs!
  • The line "Down the hall, first door on the left." was previously said by Bob on a Christmas CD.

Real-World References

  • Interstate 55 (a major interstate highway in the central United States that connects Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois) and is referenced on Bob's map.
    • Interstate 99 (a highway in the eastern United States) is referenced on a road sign.
    • Bob mentions Route 59 (a north–south United States highway).
  • 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 desert was inspired by "Lawrence of Arabia."
  • Khalil may be similar to the Peddelar from Disney's Aladdin.
  • The concept of a golden ticket is a reference to Willy Wonka.
  • Scooter's map sign says that there is a travel destination for Lombard. While it is referring to Northern Italy, Lombard is actually a suburb of Chicago, Illinois.
  • 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 both the logos look very similar.
  • Bob's van is modeled after a Volkswagen Type 2 van.

Fast Forward





Screenshot 2023-03-20 11.17.24 PM

External links


VeggieTales episodes