Remake of a classic is brilliant, as the British might say.
VeggieTales: The Penniless Princess—God’s Little Girl, DVD
Publisher: Big Idea Entertainment (www.veggietales.com)
Running Time: Approximately 50 minutes
Larry the Cucumber dons British attire and accent to introduce The Penniless Princess, an adaptation of the classic children’s book, A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The stage is set for this London story by a question: How do you love those who are less than kind? The answer comes with knowing the true source of our worth. Hint: it’s not derived from material things. It has to do with who we are in God’s sight.
This has it all: a compelling story, biblical values, gorgeous animation, excellent music, simple but witty dialog, and moving moments balanced by the zany humor that is uniquely VeggieTales. Speaking of the latter, upon arriving in London, Papa Razzi with his filmless camera, remarks to his companion, who wants to see a musical, “Musicals are so unrealistic, people bursting into song for no reason.” Immediately, a porter appears singing, “Might I fetch your bag?” Suddenly, he is singing in reply.
This is a musical of sorts, but it is not overdone, for those who might not fancy “people bursting into song for no reason.” It is similar to previous DVDs. A new silly song, “Best Friends Forever,” a humorous take on all kinds of texting acronyms, serves as an intermission in the middle.
In the story, Miss Minchin, who is as mean as Sara Crew is kind, indirectly provides some of the comedy. On almost every occasion when the former’s name is mentioned, there is an ominous neighing of horses. She also happens to be allergic to Mortimer, Sara’s teddy bear, which leaves her in a disheveled state that is most unbecoming. It serves as just punishment for her cruelty.
Unwittingly, Miss Minchin (horses neighing), brings out the best in Sara, who goes from a life of privilege to having nothing. Here a parallel is draw between her and Joseph, the Old Testament patriarch. Joseph went from wearing a princely robe and dreams that exalted him above his family to an extended stay in an Egyptian dungeon. It’s not the change of circumstance that he or Sara would choose, but we learn that with God, one is a prince or princess in any situation, no matter how difficult.
Before having his life cut short by cancer, my dad was greatly comforted by Max Lucado’s writings. One day he insisted that my mom write down the words he read in A Love Worth Giving: “God loves you simply because He has chosen to do so. He loves you when you don’t feel lovely. He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you. But God will love you. Always. No matter what.” As I watched The Penniless Princess, I could not help recalling these words, which are continually repeated almost verbatim in this marvelous story.
Since we are all made in God’s image, we all have worth. It’s what inspires Sara’s kindness to everyone. We can love because God loves us and each person is his unique creation.
Should we ever doubt God’s love, the closing lesson from Romans 8:39 provides assurance that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God ….”
VeggieTales has created a classic of their own from this engaging children’s story. To borrow a phrase from the British, this is brilliant.
It might even lead people to the book. Books tend to excel the movies they inspire. Even so, let’s hope that this won’t be the last to inspire a new VeggieTale.