Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

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Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

Postby pndragon » Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:53 pm

My kids and I just watched The Wizard of Ha's and it was a real treat. This time Phil Vischer wraps the story of the Prodigal Son in a parody of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and it works perfectly. Junior as Darby, Mr. Luntz as the Scarecrow, Larry as the Tin Man, and Pa Grape as the Lion all follow Old Yellow MacToad as he slowly hops to the Land of Ha's. Darby's dog, Tu Tu, is a pig, and is smarter and more long-suffering than all of the rest of them combined.


"Silly Songs with Larry" offers Monkeys, a look at taxonomy...

Mr. Luntz, as the Scarecrow, sings "Over the Rainbow" in his own inimitable style under the closing credits.

Big Idea did the right thing by keeping Phil Vischer and Mike Naworski after the takeover.
"We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day."
--- Paul McCartney
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Re: Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

Postby dcuny » Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:50 pm

I've always liked the styling of VeggieTales - they did an excellent embracing the limits of the medium. I used the "cartoon mouth" idea with the Moai video.

I've picked up a few of the videos from the local library, but my wife refuses to let me purchase any (used) copies for the kids, fearing they'll want the entire collection. We've already been through that with Pokemon. (In my defense, all the kids still watch the Pokemon videos - a lot).

There's a link to videos of the songs on the Big Idea website.

I noticed that the rendering has gotten a lot better:
scarecrow.png
scarecrow.png (115.35 KiB) Viewed 5166 times

lion.png
lion.png (136.63 KiB) Viewed 5167 times

woodman.png
woodman.png (141.2 KiB) Viewed 5168 times

There are shadows, but they are very soft with a rapid falloff. Notice the lion's glasses don't cast a shadow across his face. They are so subtle I almost thought they were doing without them, but if you watch the animation, you can see the Scarecrow's shadow fall on the pole.

There's no "hard" shadow in sight, and even the falloff of light across the characters is very subtle. I can't tell if they are doing global illumination, or (more likely) as the light falls off, instead of disappearing, it shifts to another color. There's a hint of pink on the Lion's face, so it's probably global illumination.

In any event, very pretty.

And the Monkey song is amusing. :D

It's a pity the company went under with the production of the Jonah film. It's nice to see that they can keep it going with a good level of quality. Classic Media seems to have done a pretty poor job with the Rankin/Bass stuff they own.
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Re: Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

Postby pndragon » Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:20 pm

I've picked up a few of the videos from the local library, but my wife refuses to let me purchase any (used) copies for the kids, fearing they'll want the entire collection.

This isn't a problem in my house. They aren't being bought for the kids. But I'm a nice guy, I'll let them watch them with me. :D

--- Jim
"We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day."
--- Paul McCartney
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Re: Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

Postby dcuny » Wed Nov 07, 2007 12:03 am

It's a bit ironic that they would have used Baum's story, given that it's a "modern American fairy story" devoid of religion. It's sort of got the shell of the Oz story, and a lot of the references, and it even includes the same core idea that the thing they most wanted they had all along.

In Oz, the characters discover their inner qualities when they are put to the test. Even the wizard, who is a humbug, redeems himself in the end.

The Prodigal Son is a similar story of discovery, but it leads in a different direction. Although he comes to his senses, the son never actually redeems himself - it's the father who shows mercy. And I think the ending of the story - with the resentful older brother - is a key part that's often overlooked. At it's heart, The Wizard of Ha's looks like it's got more in common with Disney's Pinocchio than Oz.

Mind you, I haven't seen it and I'm sure it's cleverly made. I'm sure I'd enjoy watching it, too. But the ending gives me the sort of feeling that American McGee's Alice gives me - no matter how clever or well done, I sort of wish they had come up with a different way to tell the story. :|

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind once I've actually seen it. ;)
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Re: Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

Postby pndragon » Wed Nov 07, 2007 12:49 am

I had forgotten all about the resentful brother, I can only assume that they left out that character because to have left an unhappy character at the end of a children's story would have been unsatisfactory. As an example, consider the character of Jonah... the only way they were able to resolve that was the story of Jonah being a story within a story. They did have another character (Pa Grape) feed the father the brother's lines so he could say the thing about "he was dead to me and now has returned." The story of the Prodigal Son might be a little too deep for kids, IMHO, and personally I'm on the brother's side anyway.

Pinocchio would not be a better choice, though. The puppet's redemption comes through rescuing his creator... not something that would fit in the Veggieverse.

--- Jim
"We're so sorry, Uncle Albert,
But we haven't done a bloody thing all day."
--- Paul McCartney
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Re: Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

Postby dcuny » Wed Nov 07, 2007 2:00 am

pndragon wrote:The story of the Prodigal Son might be a little too deep for kids, IMHO, and personally I'm on the brother's side anyway.

I'd claim to be, also... But then, I'd actually have to be the good, obedient son in the first place. ;)

Pinocchio would not be a better choice, though.

I was thinking more along the lines of how Pleasure Island ended up not being what it seemed to be in Pinocchio, as well as the darker tone of the story. I agree - trying to redo the story would be add.

Unlike The Wizard of Ha's, Dorothy wasn't trying to go to Oz, she just ended up there by accident. And once she got there, her goal (despite being with her new friends) was to return home. The problem was that she didn't know how to do it. Mind you, she might have wanted to run off to Oz, but I don't think that was really in her character.

As I said, I think the combination is actually quite clever. But fundamentally, they're different stories, and that makes for an odd beast at times. Then again, probably no more odd than what Hollywood does when they convert a book into a script. :P
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Re: Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

Postby dcuny » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:54 am

After waiting for a couple of months on a list, I finally got the video from the local library.

I thought the story worked well, although I thought the ending was weak. The rendering was quite nice, although something about it seemed a bit off. Perhaps it was that they used ambient occlusion instead of real global illumination. But there's certainly a much higher level of quality now.
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Re: Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

Postby John VanSickle » Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:20 pm

dcuny wrote:It's a pity the company went under with the production of the Jonah film.

I read Phil Vischer's essay at his web site, and the situation is a bit more complicated than that. Evidently the president that Phil took on to run the company over-projected sales for a given year and expanded the company based on those projections. They tripled the staff, with little if any increase in the departments that actually produce videos (new hires were in HR, finance, and other administrative areas). The Jonah film was launched at a time when production for a feature film wasn't financially viable. They lost a suit that they should have won easily (the award was reversed on appeal, IIRC, but the company had already been liquidated by then).

Phil blames himself for the missteps that happened, because he had the authority to stop every bad move along the way, and didn't, even though many of the moves went against his gut feelings at the time.
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Re: Veggie Tales: The Wizard of Ha's

Postby dcuny » Mon Apr 20, 2009 8:00 pm

Phil wrote a book about the the rise and fall of Big Idea Productions called "Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About God, Dreams, and Talking Vegetables." It's a good read, and explains his perspective on what happened. I have deep sympathy for Phil, and I think he's got some great insights in his book.

But he sort of loses me as he tries to find the moral in what went wrong, reaching for an explanation of why God would let the venture fail. After all, they were trying to get God's message out, doing His work. Some of his final conclusions seem a bit convoluted to me. But I'm certainly not in a position to know. :P
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