For those who have not yet been introduced
to them, the brightly-colored penguins, Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel,
and Kevin zip around the Universe in their space ship. They
are joined by their twin "earthling friends," Jason and Michelle,
a brother and sister who provide human stability to the zany
antics of the Penguins.
The video opens at the home of the twin's grandmum, a charming
English lady that we only see from the neck down. She is busy
working in the kitchen as the children play a delightful game
of "Squid-Tack-Toad" (look for the home version at your local
Wal-Mart in time for Christmas … maybe). Michelle wants
to win so badly that she resorts to cheating, sending her brother
upstairs to find another game to play.
After he's gone Michelle's conscience starts to get the
best of her. She begins talking out loud to the inanimate
toy penguin's in their space ship on the shelf. "I
didn't do anything wrong. I didn't cheat." Suddenly Grandmum
enters the room and responds, "Well of course you didn't cheat,
deary. You know better than that." She goes on to proclaim the
lesson of the video from the "Good Book." "The Lord hates cheating
scales, but accurate weights are His delight" (Proverbs 11:1).
Michelle doesn’t quite get the message, and so after
Grandmum rushes into the kitchen the toy space ship in
the corner suddenly comes to life with the frolicking penguins
at the helm. They use a galactic fishing pole to catch Michelle,
shrink her, and then suck her in to take her on a space adventure.
Their destination is the space-base Bullamanka, where the conniving
Lizard King has defeated the kindly Bandicott King in a life
size, fully-animated version of "Squid-Tac-Toad" (watch for
the video game coming this November … wink, wink).
When Michelle finds out that the Lizard
King has cheated in his game, the moral lesson is taken to a
higher level. I'll let you get the video to discover how it
Like the now mega-selling Veggie Tales, 3-2-1 Penguins!
uses 3-D computer animation to spin their magic -- and in
a big step forward from the Veggies, these characters actually
have arms and legs. The story has some funny gags, like the
static socks that cling to the simple-minded penguin named Kevin;
or the landing gear that works like albatross legs. There are
also some delightful post-modernisms that make this tale entertaining
-- like the penguin who stops the action in freeze-frame so
that he can write a definition of the word "ombudsman" over
But unlike many of the Veggie Tales stories that have enough
double entendres to keep adults entertained, 3-2-1 Penguins!
is primarily geared to children. I doubt that there will
be many college dorm parties playing this video like they have
with the Veggies.
And that's o.k., because we need more entertaining Christian
children's video to drive biblical messages home with the kids.
The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka does it so well that
my 8-year-old son, David, had 90% of the dialogue memorized
within the first week. I was nearly mugged when I brought the
thing home, as my three kids tore it from my hands and rushed
toward the VCR. David's birthday is in November, and he's already
told me that he is expecting a gift of the 3rd installment of
the Penguins when it is released that month (just in time for
Christmas, too … nudge, nudge).
In order survive and continue to grow, media production companies
have to break into the realm of product marketing -- and that's
o.k., too, as long as it's not too "in your face." There are
some potential products that can be spun out to the public from
this story, as I have subtly mentioned already, but the video
doesnt' push them. I'm sure you'll be seeing them soon at your
local Target or Christian Book Store.
There is also a little too much borrowing from Disney in this
episode. The twins "communicating" with "star base" in the beginning
of the film sounds more-than-vaguely similar to Toy Story.
Some of the Australian characters seem a little too much like
a few of the animals from Rescuers Down Under. That
can be forgiven, though, because there is enough genuine, original
creativity to more than make up for it.
Like Veggie Tales there is reinforcement
of the biblical lesson at the end of the video. The Penguins
appear on stage at the Comet Lounge as a 4-piece band singing
the entertaining, "Take another look at the Good Book, God wants
us to play fair…"
Way to go, Big Idea. And I can't wait for the full-length feature
film, Jonah, A Veggie Tales Movie, coming only to theaters
next summer. A preview for the movie precedes The Cheating
Scales of Bullamanka -- "Before Jaws; Before 20,000 Leagues
Under The Sea; Before Free Willy…the biggest fish story
of all time -- Jonah."
My 11-year-old son, Aaron, said it best when he declared, "3-2-1
Penguins teaches kids a message, and it has humor so kids
want to watch it over and over again. When they do, they learn
the message." I don't think a marketing consultant could have
put it any better.
your copy of The Cheating Scales of Bullamanka.
other Veggie Tales products at CBN.com
More from Craig von
Buseck on CBN.com
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.