VeggieTales in the House Review: “Sorry We’re Closed Today” / “Bob and the Awesome Frosting Mustache”

The second and third episodes of VeggieTales in the House, now available on Netflix! In “Sorry We’re Closed Today,” the Veggies get trapped in Pa Grape’s store, and in “Bob & the Awesome Frosting Mustache,” Bob gets a little obsessed with his new mustache.

“Sorry We’re Closed Today”

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One of the best things about VeggieTales – and you can say this about any successfully long-running show – is the large cast of characters. Obviously in the beginning, it started with only Bob and Larry and any side characters necessary for the story. The home videos had a bit more leeway and budget to fill out the cast as needed, but that isn’t usually the case in network animation; each character has to be drawn (2D animation) or rendered (3D), which costs money each time. So showrunners have to prioritize between creating new characters or focusing on new locations (backgrounds/settings also cost money) or other factors instead. VeggieTales in the House, though now more similar to standard cartoons, has the benefit of already having a giant cast to draw from, and Netflix gave the showrunners the freedom and time to create (and redesign) everyone. “Sorry We’re Closed Today” is basically just to showcase the entire cast, to introduce fully the character’s tweaked or new personalities for the audience, and to help kids learn everyone’s names.

The episode starts off with an entertaining segment of Bob and Larry having fun together, playing pretend heroes vs. villains. It’s rare to see Bob so loose and carefree, as he’s usually the sane man to Larry’s self-admitted “silliness.” Bob is Ultra-Veggie and Larry is Plantasaurus, and they “fight” each other with well-choreographed anime moves reminiscent of a Dragonball Z battle. (Clearly, the writers and animators are fans of multiple genres.)

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It’s nice to see this kind of thing, even if only to help kids relate to these obstinately “adult” characters better. Bob and Larry can’t be perfect or do the right thing all the time, or there would be no lesson to learn (and they’d be kinda boring). Although Larry is usually the one who acts childishly and slips up, Bob has his weaknesses, too, as we’ll see more in-depth in the next episode. Even here, however, Bob is the one who starts off the entire plot by wanting to avoid Jimmy and Jerry when they come up the street.

Jimmy and Jerry were always meant to be the counterparts to Bob and Larry, even sharing their voice actors (Phil Vischer as Jimmy and Mike Nawrocki as Jerry). I can’t personally recall them being more fleshed out than that, really, but in this new show, the writers have intended them to be more like opposites, with Jimmy being much more obnoxious than Bob, and Jerry much more withdrawn than Larry. In a flashback scene, we see that the pairs clash with each other, and Larry actually voices his dislike of the other two (not to their faces, of course). Bob suggests the “mature” thing to do would be to hide in Pa Grape’s store. And thus begins an odd little montage.

Once Jimmy and Jerry reach the store, they also see someone who they want to avoid: Madame Blueberry, who is now British instead of French for some reason (and voiced by Tress MacNeille). Madame Blueberry in turn sees the French peas (wildly different than their original counterparts, with one sporting a twirly mustache and the other with wide eyes and a red nose), and also hides in Pa’s store. The peas see Archibald (also redesigned to be a bit more pompous-looking; his voice sounds off, too, but that might just be me) and run to avoid him, and Archie sees Ichabeezer, and hides because he finds the other Veggie to be “uncooperative.” Not the best of excuses, really, and the scene wisely cuts into the store itself to avoid giving further reason as to why even more Veggies dart in (Pa Grape is totally oblivious to what’s going on).

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Besides the obvious fact that everyone has communication issues, it’s a little weird that they all decide to hide from one another, and even they themselves don’t think anything of it when Pa leaves for the night, locking them all in. The trapped Veggies start freaking out, totally unsurprised to see how many of them are there. The resulting scenes are bit disjointed, too: it jumps from Bob trying to figure a way out, to Madame Blueberry playing checkers by herself, to Jerry and Larry fighting, to them all huddled together freaking out, and then back to them being bored and trying to kill time. There’s no jump cuts or scene wipes to suggest time is passing or anything, so it doesn’t flow well at all.

There is a funny little scene with Junior (newly voiced by MacNeille) and Laura playing shadow puppets with a flashlight. They start off with the standard dog and bunny, then Ichabeezer comes over and shows them how to do it properly, making a shadow carousal and fireworks. (Unnecessary reminder: they don’t have hands!) There’s actually a bunch of hand-related jokes in this episode, including one with Larry requesting Bob to give him “an invisible hand up” in order to climb onto a shelf. Of course, I doubt that’s meant to be anything more than a joke, rather than a canon explanation for how the Veggies can hold things.

In any case, once everyone has finally finished freaking out, Larry is the one who figures out that the only way they’re getting out of this is to help each other, cooperation being the theme for this episode. There’s fun little song featuring the whole cast as they stack the store’s products against the wall to reach a high window. Once complete, Bob is the first to apologize for avoiding Jimmy and Jerry, with the other Veggies following suit. He then quotes Ecclesiastes 4:9 –

“Two are better than one, for they have a good reward for their work. For if they fall, one will lift up the other.”

The Veggies proceed to literally lift each other up to the window, where they all climb out and fall into the street below (Jerry apparently sprains his wrist in the process). They agree to be more open with one another, then head off for breakfast, as it’s now morning. Poor Pa Grape later enters his store happily only to see it mysteriously trashed.

Netflix pairs two 11-minute episodes together, so the theme song is at the beginning of “Puppies and Guppies” and the credits are at the end of “Sorry We’re Closed Today.” Also at the end is the VeggieTales classic closer with Bob and Larry directly telling the audience, “God made you special, and He loves you very much.” It’s lovely they kept that sentiment in for this new show, both for classic fans and newcomers.

“Bob & the Awesome Frosting Mustache”

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I’m just gonna come right out and say this episode is pretty weird. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course; the show is still trying to solidify its footing, and relying on wacky cartoon conventions seems to be the plan for now. Having something as silly as a frosting mustache be the focal point for an entire episode isn’t that strange for a regular cartoon, it’s just a little odd in the VeggieTales world.

Bob is the focus character this time around, with him turning down Larry’s offer to join a karaoke contest at Pa Grape’s store. His downhearted attitude derives from having no desire to try to beat Madame Blueberry, who always wins with her heart-wrenching “bluesy-berry” songs. Stage fright got the better of him last year, so this time around, Bob plans to stay in the sidelines – that is, until he sees a commercial promoting Tom Celeriac (voiced by Rob Paulsen) and his famous “frosting mustache” product. This Tom Selleck parody is an action hero celebrity who apparently narrates his own promos, and Bob is inspired, believing that if he had a mustache like Tom Celeriac (seriously, he’s hilarious), then he would have the ability to do whatever he wanted. He promptly orders some mustache frosting and waits eagerly and adorably by the door for it to arrive:

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The parts leading up to the karaoke contest are odd and largely forgettable. Bob is bursting with confidence from his new mustache, so while funny, there is an unfavorable comparison to similar scenes with “Dark” Peter Parker in Spiderman 3. Bob rescues Laura from falling off her bike, has a snappy nickname for everyone, talks in a smooth low voice, and if he had hands, he’d probably be tossing off finger guns and snaps left and right. The secondhand embarrassment is almost too much, to be honest, and Madame Blueberry’s reminder to Bob that winning isn’t everything almost passes unnoticed.

VeggieTales, for the most part, had songs that were easy to sing along with, but so far none of the tunes in VeggieTales in the House has been that memorable for me. Bob sings two renditions of his song about having a mustache and being a tomato, which has wild rock-and-roll elements that must have really fun to sing, but I wouldn’t call it catchy.

In any case, during Bob’s song, his mustache snags on the microphone, ripping it off (because it’s removable, for some reason), and when everyone laughs, he dashes out, horrified. Madame Blueberry follows him, her turn being taken by a barbershop quartet of the two French peas and Jimmy (which only makes three, btw) singing, “Hamsters Have No Love for Ham, But I Love Hamsters.”

Obviously, the theme for this episode is confidence. Bob is distraught when Madame Blueberry finds him outside, admitting that his mustache is the only reason why he was able to go up on stage in the first place, and now feels empty without it. She then quotes Psalm 23:1 –

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”

For Bob, this means that since God is always with him, he doesn’t need a mustache or anything else to feel complete. That he even felt that way in the first place ties in slightly with Bob’s controlling nature, so though for a weird reason, the lesson works, and it’s a good one for kids, too. Madame Blueberry offers to let him join her in a duet, and though Bob is hesitant that no one will like it, she tells him, “Who cares? It’s just for fun!” So they go back and bring the house (er, store) down with a bluesy rock jam centering around Psalm 23:1. (First time I’ve ever heard a psalm get turned into something that sounds like a Beach Boys song!) Some of the Veggies really get into it:

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Overall, both “Sorry We’re Closed Today” and “Bob & the Awesome Frosting Mustache” were misses for me. Again, the first seemed more a setup to properly introduce all the characters, and the second simply didn’t appeal to my tastes. It’s better when a lesson can naturally evolve from a situation, rather than be shoehorned in, and I think there might be funnier, better ways to learn about confidence.

What about you? How do you help your kids learn to cooperate and to feel confident in themselves? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Header image: VeggieTales in the House from Big Idea Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation Television, and Bardel Entertainment

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