Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie is the first VeggieTales feature film. It was released in 2002, unlike most VeggieTales released at the time, it was not released by Word Entertainment or HiT Entertainment, it was instead released by Artisan Entertainment under the FHE Pictures label.
Bob and Dad Asparagus are driving Junior Asparagus, Laura,Annie, and Percy Pea to concert hosted by kids' singer Twippo. Laura, who has won a contest to see Twippo backstage, keeps bragging to her friends about how she won and teases them. Bob has become very frustrated on finding a route to the concert and with Dad on him singing songs and playing his guitar instead of helping him with the map. On the way, Bob hits a bump and makes Laura lose her Twippo ticket and runs into a family of porcupines in which they pop out the tires. They crash down a hill and become lost. As everyone gets out of the car, they see a seafood restaurant.
They head to the restaurant to call a tow truck and grab a bite to eat. They are greeted and are given a table by the French Peas. After Junior blames Laura for the trouble, he goes to sit down and is greeted by The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. They tell him that what he said to Laura was too mean and show a little compassion. To illustrate, they begin to tell all the Veggies a story.
Jonah (Archibald Asparagus) is a Prophet from Israel who goes from town to town delivering God's messages. One day, God asks him to leave Israel and deliver a message to Nineveh, a rough and dangerous city in Assyria. Jonah panics and tries to flee from the Lord. He goes to his travel agent, Angus (Scooter), who tells him that the farthest he can get from Nineveh is Tarshish. When he spies the Pirates in the harbor, he asks them to take him to Tarshish. They resist, but Jonah convinces them by paying them. On the way to Tarshish, a guilt-stricken Jonah goes below deck to rest. There, he meets Khalilthe Caterpillar, a traveling Persian rug salesman, who rants about how great Jonah is and decides to travel with him.
After having a bad dream about running from God, Jonah finds the ship beset by a great storm. Captain Pa Grape concludes that the storm has been sent because God is angry at someone on the ship. They all play Go Fish to determine who it is. Jonah loses the game and admits that he is running from God. Luckily, First MateLunt has an outboard motor, which they can use to return to Joppa, but Khalil accidentally sends it overboard and Jonah 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 Jonah (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 belly of 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 through a rousing number 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 Who Don't Do Anything 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 Ninevah 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 sentenced to death by "the Fish Slap of No Return", they are granted an audience with King Twistomer (Apollo Guard). When King Twistomer hears that Jonah has survived in the belly of a whale, he listens 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 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 a grand musical number and the arrival of the tow truck driver (Khalil), whom Twippo seems to recognize.
- Bob, Dad Asparagus, Junior Asparagus, Laura, Annie, and Percy Pea (the supporting characters)
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (the sole antagonists)
- Archibald Asparagus (the protagonist)
- Khalil the Caterpillar, a traveling Persian rug salesman (the deuteragonist)
History and Production
Originally, the movie was going to be 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 adaption on Noah later.
When finding out who Jonah would be, the team though that Archibald shouldn't be Jonah since he wasn't deemed as a main character in the series. Larry was considered but was scrapped because he doesn't get serious, Bob was then a consideration since he's serious but since the story of Jonah ends with Jonah not learning the team didn't feel right about Bob not learning anything. At one point, Junior was even considered which didn't make sense at all. At the end, the team had no choice but to go with Archibald.
After the film's release, Big Idea faced bankruptcy and got bought out by Classic Media (which then later got bought out by DreamWorks and was renamed to DreamWorks Classics.) After the bankruptcy, Phil Vischer left his position as President of Big Idea but he still writes scripts for the episodes and still does the voices.
It was released on DVD and VHS March 4th, 2003. It was released on Blu-ray in 2011.
- According to some concept art in the behind the scenes feature on the DVD, the whale was going to have a much more menacing and 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.
- 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.
- The van that Bob drives was 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.
Real World References
- Alf was a American sitcom about a alien who stays with a middle class family after his ship crash lands at their garage.