Jennifer's Question: 

Since the movie Jonah was so successful, why is Big Idea softening (or in other words taking out) all religious talk in this next movie- The Pirates That Don't Do Anything? And why won't there be a bible story? Seems that the success of the previous movie proves that there is a large number of Americans who want Christian movies. Anyone can put out a movie without bad morals. We need movies with a Christian message not more 'Finding Nemo'.

Good question, Jennifer.  First, why isn't the second VeggieTales movie, like our first effort, Jonah, based on a Bible story?  Aren't all VeggieTales stories based on Bible stories?  Well, actually, only about half the stories we've told in VeggieTales films have been based on Bible stories.  The other half have been either parodies of other works (like Star Trek, Gilligan's Island or the Lord of the Rings), or entirely original stories not based on anything, like Snoodle's Tale or the Star of Christmas.

So which is the new veggie movie, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything?  Well, contrary to the hopes (or fears) of some, it is not a parody of The Pirates of the Carribbean.  I wrote the script for the new movie near the end of 2002, before the bankruptcy of Big Idea Productions and about six months before Disney launched the first Pirates of the Carribbean film, so any similarity is merely coincidental.  It obviously isn't a retelling of a Bible story – at least none that I've ever heard of.  So what is it?

First and foremost, it was an attempt to create a great, compelling story about three of our favorite characters.  At the end of the day, most people go to the movies to enjoy a story well told, involving characters with whom they can relate and empathize.  I think we pulled this off rather well.  Almost everyone who has seen the film really feels for our three 'heroes,' and can relate to at least one, if not all three of them.

But is it, in fact, a "Christian film?"  If you mean by that a literal retelling of a Bible story, then no, it isn't.  If you mean by that a film where characters talk directly about Jesus or the Christian faith, then no, it isn't.  It has never been my goal to only tell stories that are explicitly biblical in nature.  But I do intend for all my films to evidence, in some way, a Christian worldview; I intend to tell stories that illuminate the Christian experience or demonstrate Christian belief.  In other words, they might not all talk about Christianity, but they will all, in some meaningful way, demonstrate Christianity.

So what is the new VeggieTales movie?  It's a parable.  A distinctly Christian parable.  On the surface it is a fun, engaging story about three friends who find themselves caught up in an adventure seemingly miles beyond their capabilities.  But beneath the surface, it is, as story expert Robert McKee describes every good story, "a living proof of an idea."  It is a distinctly Christian illustration of how God calls us into adventure – calls us to be 'heroes', if you will – and then once called, will equip us for the tasks he has given us and supply us with the strength to finish the job.  The ultimate victory in Christian life comes not from our power, but from Christ's.  Apart from him, I can do no good thing.

All of this significant Christian theology is in the Pirate movie.  But it's beneath the surface.  It's the subtext, not the text.  You see, very few people want to hear stories about ideas or theology.  They want to hear stories about people.  Jesus told stories about bridesmaids and  vineyard owners and women with lost coins.  The subtext of each of these stories was a lesson about the kingdom of God.  But he knew his 1st century audience of fishermen and  shepherds wasn't easily engaged by "lessons," they were engaged by stories.  When his disciples wondered if the masses were really "getting" the lessons, Jesus simply answered, "For him who has ears to hear."  The most gifted Christian writers of our time – Tolkien, Lewis, Chesterton, O'Conner, L'Engle, just to name a few – knew this pattern well and continued the tradition effectively, using lions and dwarves and strange, flying creatures to give flight to their own musings about man and his creator.

And so our lazy pirates join the parade in their own feeble way.  Is the new VeggieTales movie a Bible story?  No.  But it is profoundly, profoundly Christian.

Now that I got all that off my chest, I can't wait to hear what you all think!