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VeggieTales' Sumo of the Opera Should Be a Hefty Hit

  • Harold Schrader Contributing Writer
  • 2004 8 Aug
  • COMMENTS
VeggieTales' <i>Sumo of the Opera</i> Should Be a Hefty Hit

Release Date:  August 2004
Rating:  NR (Not Rated)
Genre:  Family/Children, Animation
Run Time: 53 min.
Creator:  Big Idea Inc./Classic Media LLC

Don't worry; kids won't have to know about Sumo wrestling or The Phantom of the Opera to enjoy the new VeggieTales' newest release, Sumo of the Opera.  In fact, they will pick up on more inside jokes and better understand their parents' laughter in the background if they've seen the "Rocky" or "Karate Kid" movies.  And along the way, children will also learn an important Bible-based lesson in perseverance.

Definitely one of the more left-of-crisper plotlines in recent memory, Sumo of the Opera tells of the Italian Scallion (Larry the Cucumber), a goof-around sparring partner of the famous Sumo wrestler, Po Tato, who looks and talks like 1980s icon Mr. T.  While training for a match against reigning champion, Apollo Gourd, Po slips on a banana peel belonging to Scallion and throws out his back.  (Do potatoes have backs?)

Anyway … Scallion feels bad for taking Po out of the ring, so to honor him, makes a bold challenge to personally take on Apollo Gourd for the Sumo title.  The wrestling community laughs, knowing the absent-minded Scallion never completes anything.  And in this instance, the grand prize - a bicycle - only reminds Scallion of another failed promise made to his friend, Hadrian (Junior Asparagus), to fix his broken bike.

Inspiringly, the Italian Scallion begins a two-week training session packed with slapstick and led by his Mr. Miyagi-meets-Mickey trainer.  Instead of waxing on and waxing off a la Karate Kid, Scallion mops the floor.  Instead of jogging up giant staircases as in Rocky, he conquers an escalator.  Having duly persevered, Scallion puts up a good fight against Gourd but does not win; it's a tie match.

But, as kids need to know, winning isn't everything.  Scallion is pleased just to have done his best and carries the experience over to his next task, finally fixing Hadrian's bike.  And that concludes Sumo of the Opera, a taut, ticklish tale that one well-Veggie-versed youngster I know says is, "The best one ever!"

I will agree.  Sumo of the Opera is sharply written and vividly animated, incorporating thematic Japanese elements throughout, from background music and minor characters to editing techniques and the end credits lettering.  Furthermore, the theme of perseverance, pinpointed by Hebrews 10:36 ("You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised"), resonates in the main story as well as the extensive opening sequences, which deserve a full mention.

Going Up! is a flat-out funny Three Stooges/silent film spoof that shows the rewards of lugging a grand piano up a mile-high staircase, even after two failed attempts.  And the Moe and Larry haircuts on the vegetables are a must-see.

Also, a new-territory, no-Veggies, flannel graph-like retelling of the story of St. Patrick fits in well with its humorous, spiritual example of perseverance.

Finally, yes, there is a silly song, "School House Polka," in which Larry the Cucumber somewhat perseveringly rocks the accordion while singing about adjectives, prepositions, and much more.  Sumo of the Opera, 53 minutes long not counting the DVD extras, should be a hefty hit, indeed.