DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Mike Nawrocki
Cydney Trent, Melinda Doolittle, Mike Nawrocki
Writing Credits:

It's Easter time in Crisper County and cable news reporter Marlee Meade (Petunia Rhubarb) is hunting for a way to help others. On a tip that the old town theater will be shut down, Marlee cooks up a plan to save the stage and make a difference through the power of musical theater. With a cast of costume-clad townies, massive props and a 20-foot robot rabbit - "Up With Bunnies" is hatched! There's only one thing missing the star of the show! When news spreads that singing sensation Cassie Cassava (Melinda Doolittle) is arriving to perform in her hometown church's Easter service, Marlee gets worried. Concerned about the competition, she schemes to steal the starlet for her own pageant! But when things go haywire, will it be curtains for Marlee's dreams ... or will she discover the true meaning of Easter and what helping others is really all about? Find out in this hare raising adventure!

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 48 min.
Price: $14.97
Release Date: 3/8/2011

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Actor Mike Nawrocki, Executive Producer Leslie Farrell and Writer Mark Steele
• “Behind the Voice of Cassie” Featurette
• “Larry’s Backstage Pass to VeggieTales Live
• SingAlong
• “Egg-streme Egg Hunt Game”
• Discussion Guide
• Art Gallery


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

VeggieTales: Twas The Night Before Easter (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 15, 2011)

For the second VeggieTales program to deal with the spring holiday, we get 2011’s ’Twas the Night Before Easter. TV reporter Marlee Meade (voiced by Cydney Trent) tires of the small-time local news she reports. She feels she’s destined for something bigger and dreams of more.

When she learns that the local – and long-defunct – local theater will be torn down, Marlee buys it and decides to stage an Easter show. Entitled “Up with Bunnies”, the musical incorporates fancy costumes, elaborate props and a 20-foot-mechanical rabbit – everything except for a message about the importance of Easter. Marlee pursues this vanity project before a meeting with local star Cassie Cassava (Melinda Doolittle) helps remind her of more valuable notions.

Is it just me or has the VeggieTales series become more overtly religious over time? Given that the franchise always based its shows on Biblical lessons, that seems like a strange line of thought, but I do sense a stronger push toward more obvious Christian material. I thought the first programs I saw tended more toward ethical issues and less toward clear religious content, and I liked that; they fit within the franchise’s moral framework but didn’t beat viewers over the head with references to the Bible and whatnot.

To be sure, Night and other recent VeggieTales material don’t shove Christian elements in our faces, but I do think the series has started to go a little more down that path than I’d like, and that comes through in Night. I suspect this is a drawback of the Christian holiday genre, though, as they tend toward the “remember the real meaning!” notion. They want to counteract all the secular content attached to the occasions – in this case, eggs and bunnies – so they can seem a bit heavy-handed.

Despite that vague orientation, Night presents a reasonable amount of entertainment, and it’s far from the preachiest of the VeggieTales series. The musical segments fare the best, as “Up With Bunnies” delivers some amusing moments that spoof showtunes. A few other clever bits emerge along the way.

Those help make up for a somewhat muddled and lackluster story. For a program about the message behind the real meaning of Easter Night takes the long way to get there. It doesn’t provide a particularly clear or sensible way to get to its end, and that means the ultimate message feels almost arbitrary; it doesn’t connect to the actual program very well.

Still, this is decent VeggieTales. It’s definitely far from the series’ peak, but it also manages to surpass the weaker, preachier episodes.

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

VeggieTales: ‘Twas the Night Before Easter appears in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. No real problems materialized here.

Sharpness seemed to be consistently positive. The picture looked crisp and detailed, as I witnessed few signs of softness or fuzziness. Jagged edges and shimmering were absent. Edge enhancement caused no concerns, and print flaws also appeared absent during this clean image.

The world of VeggieTales offers a fairly bright and varied palette, and Night followed with a strong batch of colors. The program offered tones that tended toward a pastel look and the hues were nicely distinctive. At no time did any of the colors show signs of bleeding, noise or other concerns, as they always looked tight and distinct.

Black levels were also nicely deep and rich, and shadows worked fine. The show didn’t come with a lot of low-light shots, but the ones we got were clear and smooth. Given the restrictions of SD-DVD, this was a strong presentation.

Also fairly good was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Night. For the most part, this soundfield stayed with an emphasis on the forward spectrum, where it offered nicely broad and engaging audio at times. Though not tremendously involving, Carol did provide somewhat more active material, especially at the Easter spectacular. Elements moved nicely across the front and appeared less speaker-specific than normal. The rear speakers never became terribly significant partners, but they kicked in some good material at times.

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, but bass response was a bit tepid, and the subwoofer received little work. This was a particular disappointment when the giant mechanical bunny appeared; its stomps should’ve rocked the track but they lacked much punch.

Music demonstrated fairly positive dimensionality. Again, the bass could have sounded warmer and deeper, but I thought the range of the tunes remained quite acceptable throughout the show. In the end, Night didn’t give us a stellar auditory experience, but I thought the mix worked reasonably well, mostly due to the breadth of the soundscape.

If you’ve seen other VeggieTales releases, you’ll find a familiar range of extras here. These launch with an audio commentary from writer/director/actor Mike Nawrocki, executive producer Leslie Farrell and writer Mark Steele. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story, characters and themes, cast and performances, music, and animation.

This commentary fits most other VeggieTales chats. That means it’s amiable and moderately informative but not anything more than that. You’ll get a few good details about the production and some pleasant banter, so if that’s enough for you, you’ll be happy with the track. I’ve heard more informative VeggieTales commentaries, but I’ve also heard worse.

For a look at the show’s guest star, we go to Behind the Voice of Cassie. This four-minute, 39-second piece includes notes from actor Melinda Doolittle. She talks about her experiences with the show and her performance. This is a short and fluffy piece, so don’t expect Doolittle to offer much substance.

Larry’s Backstage Pass to VeggieTales Live goes for two minutes, 43 seconds and does what its title states. We visit Live on the road and see the preparation for a performance as well as clips from the show. Does this exist for any reason other than to sell tickets? Not really.

After this we find a SingAlong for “Hopperena”. The show’s “Silly Song”, this clip allows you to croon along with the track. Of course, you could already do this during the main show if you just activate the subtitles; the “SingAlong” just offers the scene from the program. Still, it’s a painless addition.

Next comes an Egg-streme Egg Hunt Game. This provides a simple memory game that revolves around images of VeggieTales characters. It gives us a minor diversion.

A Discussion Guide offers some text material. It tells us “10 Ways Kids Can Help Other Kids In Need”. It’s more useful than prior “Discussion Guides”.

Within the Art Gallery, we find 12 screens of concept and character drawings. Prior galleries also included commentary but this one doesn’t. It’s till got some good shots, but I miss the comments.

The disc opens with an ad for Princess and the Pop Star. This also shows up under Previews along with promos for It’s a Meaningful Life, SweetPea Beauty, Bob & Larry Sing the 80s, and Happy Together.

As a holiday special, ’Twas the Night Before Easter proves to be competent. It lacks the preachiness of the weaker VeggieTales programs but it also fails to deliver as much cleverness as the series’ best shows. The DVD comes with very good picture and audio as well as a few decent supplements. Fans will probably like Night but they shouldn’t expect it to be a great show.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main