"Lord of the Beans" Appropriate for Kids, Amusing for Adults
- Thursday, October 27, 2005
Release Date: October 29, 2005
Creator/Publisher: Big Idea, Inc.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” -- Ephesians 2:10
In this cartoon spoof of director Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, we once again encounter Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, the chatty veggies who once again begin their “show” with a viewer question. How should we use the gifts God has given us?
Following closely the plot of Jackson’s three films, “Lord of the Beans” opens with a pair of tongs holding a bean in a raging fire. Slowly, we see the words, “Use wisely.” We then meet Billboy Baggypants, a.k.a. Archibald Asparagus, a “flobbit” who has become wealthy and successful thanks to a mysterious, magical bean. At the prompting of the wizard Randalf, however, Billboy donates the bean and all his worldly goods to his nephew, Toto Baggypants (Junior Asparagus).
Toto realizes that the bean is an extraordinary gift, but is wise enough to question how he should use it. He thus sets off on a journey of discovery, along with the Fellowship of the Bean – a group of warriors provided by Randalf that include the ranger, Ear-a-Corn; a sharpshooting elf named Leg-O-Lamb; and a surly dwarf named Grumpy. The group travels across the Mountains of Much Snowia, meeting the Elders of Razzberry Forest. During the journey, Toto is tempted by his friends to use the bean in unwise ways (e.g. Grumpy harangues him to make a chicken burrito appear for lunch). But wisely, Toto responds that he cannot use his gift until he knows its purpose.
The sojourners finally arrive at the Blue Gate, entrance to the desolate Land of Woe. There is no handle on the door, and the inscription is written in the mysterious Tongue of Woe. Fortunately, Randalf translates, then helps them solve a riddle, which opens the gate. But once inside, however, the group realizes that only Toto can fit through the door. Reluctantly, they leave him to continue alone.
The film advances with a little “station break” in the form of some “Silly Songs with Elves” with elves who look (and sound) a lot like Elvis. Afterward, we catch up with Toto as he has encountered a former flobbit named Gandelph, who is obsessed with the bean. “My precious!” he calls it, with a Mexican accent (!). Gandelph once owned the bean, he explains, which granted him his every wish. But eventually he fell into a sugar coma and the bean disappeared. Now Gandelph desperately wants to find it again – and he sees Toto as the means to do so.
“If you have a gift, use it for yourself before you lose it and it’s too late,” warns Scary Man, parroting the wisdom of the world. But fortunately, Toto discovers the real meaning and purpose of his bean-gift, then makes a significant difference to an entire village, by using them. Meanwhile, viewers get some heaping doses of wisdom.
The film’s closing song provides a summary of its message, as does its closing dialogue: “To have a gift is a wonderful thing. Your spirits will lift and your heart will sing. Though some might use it to live like a king, I finally know what it’s for.”
“When you gave me the bean, you lost everything,” exclaims Toto, after being reunited with his now-impoverished uncle. “Yes, I did,” replies Billboy. “But I found so much more. Clothes and toys and fame – they all feel good for a minute. But the happiness they bring passes in a flash, like straw in a fire. When I left, I was looking for a happiness that lasts, and I found it here, of all places…by helping. By using my gifts to help others, rather than myself.”
Just in case we missed it – kids do have a short attention span, after all – Bob sums it up once again. “Happiness that lasts is called joy,” he explains, “and it comes from using our gifts the way God intended – from seeing the difference we can make to the people around us.” He concludes by reminding children that God has created them “special” and that He loves us all very much.
As always, the animation and the quality of this “VeggieTales” episode is outstanding. Given that the plot has already made Oscar history, it’s definitely a winner. As a spoof geared to kids, it works well, with parallels that will amuse adults yet still advance the story and good music. Be sure to listen for Wynonna singing an original song (“It’s About Love”) penned just for the film.
Unlike some of the other “VeggieTales” episodes, which work well for younger kids, the length and subject matter make “Lord of the Beans” mostly appropriate for school-age children. For those who have the ability to comprehend the twisting plot, it will be both instructive and entertaining – and serve as an excellent introduction to the “Lord of the Rings” film series later on.
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