Jonah is a feature length film version of Veggie Tales, an animated series involving various vegetable characters in the telling of Bible stories. It is produced by a company called Big Idea, whose mission statement claims that the path the media is currently taking has negative affects on the people who watch it, but that media can have a positive affect as well. The best way that they have found to improve the media is by injecting Biblical values and spiritual messages into its products.
Jonah is a story within a story. Some modern day veggies are road-tripping their way to a pop concert, and as car trips with children often do, the voyage turns frustrating as the characters grow irritable. After a breakdown at a seafood joint, the veggies go inside and are treated to the story of Jonah and the whale from a small band of ridiculous-looking pirates. This tidy structure makes it easy to present clearly the values and lessons the film wants to teach. As the pirates tell the story to the veggie kids, they conveniently point out that it is a story about compassion and mercy. The lesson is pretty clear without any intervention, but there’s still much to expand and apply if we want to.
Many things about this telling of Jonah and the whale are commendable because of the way it makes the story so accessible and fun for children. The animation is imaginative, the story and its lessons are easy to understand, and even the Ninevites’ wickedness is portrayed in a silly way so that the children can recognize bad without either being subjected to evil or taught that the other is always soulless and malicious. Expressly aimed at smaller children, many different elements of Jonah are delightful for all ages. The funny-looking vegetable characters are amusing to smaller children, while the quick witticisms and ridiculous situations are quite funny to an older crowd. It is one of those viewing experiences that works pleasantly on different levels for both parent and child.