VeggieTales in the House Review: "Trading Place" / "Jimmy and Jerry Are Rich" - BlueAnteater.com

VeggieTales in the House Review: “Trading Places” / “Jimmy and Jerry Are Rich”

The sixth and seventh episodes of VeggieTales in the House, now available on Netflix! In “Trading Places,” Bob and Jimmy want new roommates, and in “Jimmy and Jerry Are Rich,” Bob and Larry want to buy a monster truck.

“Trading Places”

VeggieTales in the House Review:

What’s unique about this episode is that you need to have an understanding of Bob and Larry’s friendship that extends beyond what we’ve seen in this show. We already know that Bob can find Larry annoying, but in the context of the series, they’ve only had to deal with each other’s idiosyncrasies for maybe one episode. Whereas in VeggieTales as a whole franchise, they’ve been best friends for a very long time. Either way, however, it makes Bob look a little petty when he’s suddenly had enough, though it’s helped by the parallel situation with Jimmy and Jerry.

The episode starts with Bob having spontaneously become fascinated by the weather, to the point that he wants to be on the cover of Weatherman Weekly. But Larry is more interested in looking at clouds, becoming obsessed with one shaped like a frog. (This whole scene was fairly reminiscent of similar opening segments of Pinky and the Brain . . . ) Meanwhile, Jimmy is trying to teach Jerry to properly bake cookies, as he keeps burning them to a crisp. Jimmy literally can’t stomach such a terrible dessert and storms out of their house. (Jerry: “Ungrateful.”)

Bob’s patience is also wearing thin as Larry won’t stop talking and speculating about the cloud frog and potential names for it. He also leaves the house, grumbles his way through the streets (“I’m getting so frustrated with that cucumber, I don’t know why he doesn’t think more like I do.”) and runs into Jimmy, who’s been complaining about how Jerry only says two-word sentences (I’ve noticed that both the gourds have been significantly dumbed down from the old show). Bob and Jimmy bond over their respective annoying roommates, wishing they could each have a different one (Bob: “If only there was a mutual solution to our problem . . .”)

VeggieTales in the House Review:

Once the penny drops, Bob and Jimmy rush back to their respective homes, and in the morning, Bob packs up his things and Jimmy packs up Jerry’s things. Poor Jerry doesn’t really understand why he has to go live with Larry now (who is entirely oblivious to what’s going on), but he seems fine with it once he’s in the house. He and Larry immediately rush off to do silly things like riding lobsters and doing ninja moves in the sink. In general, Larry and Jerry (hey, even their names rhyme!) seem really well-suited for each other, though we know from the second episode that Larry actually finds Jerry annoying (pot, meet kettle), and also, it’s the contrasting nature of Bob and Larry as personality opposites that makes that particular pair work so well.

Bob is overjoyed when he gets to Jimmy’s house and sees him reading War and Peas (though I never pegged Jimmy for the literary type.) Having brought Of Rice and Men himself, the two new roommates enjoy quietly reading – and also randomly bursting into laughter at these books that are apparently far more hilarious than their human world counterparts. This whole situation is weirdly funny from a meta perspective, since now it’s Phil Vischer (Bob) talking to himself (Jimmy) and the same for Mike Nawrocki (Larry, Jerry). Seriously, the credits only have their two names listed as the cast, it’s awesome.

As might be expected for an eleven-minute cartoon, this idyllic life doesn’t last very long. Jimmy is much more coarse and rude than Bob, who finds it off-putting, and in turn, Bob doesn’t like donuts (or food in general) as much as Jimmy. They both realize they’ve made a mistake, and plan to trick their old roommates into coming back – instead of, you know, just asking them to.

Larry and Jerry are invited over to watch Plantasaurus vs. Shark (a Sharknado reference?), and Bob immediately tries to engage Larry by doing fancy ninja moves all over the house. Larry, not surprisingly, finds this very weird coming from a normally stoic Bob and grabs Jerry to leave. Though they’ve been getting along well all day, it’s time for the status quo to be restored, and Larry ends up dissatisfied with his new roommate when Jerry decides he’d rather bake cookies than go cloud hunting (to be fair, it is late at night). Both Jimmy and Jerry end up being more of the “bad guys” to Bob and Larry, respectively, since it’s clear than the two pairs aren’t really that fond of each other (an important point further developed in the next episode).

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Bob leaves Jimmy’s house, singing a sweet “very best friends song” that Larry eventually joins. Bob admits he’s stubborn (and that Larry is annoying), and Larry misses Bob for . . . whatever reason (it’s a visual musical montage, hard to discuss in text). When they finally meet up from wandering around singing, Bob asks Larry if he wants to go weather-watching, quoting Proverbs 17:17:

“A friend loves at all times.”

Bob says that this is one of those “all times,” and Larry happily agrees. The two go off, leaving poor Jerry alone (with the sandwich he made instead of cookies), and eventually, he wanders back home to Jimmy, implying that everything is now back to normal. The theme for this episode is supposedly contentment, though I think a better one would be just being grateful to your friends and respecting each other’s differences. Either message doesn’t really play off too well, since we know Bob and Larry can never stay apart for too long, but as a kid, it helps to show that you can be annoyed with your roommate (or siblings, friends, etc.) and still care for them.

“Jimmy & Jerry Are Rich”

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The comedic timing is pretty off in this episode, almost to the point that it seems the storyboard team and the writing team didn’t consult with each other at all. There are some funny jokes and few clever gags, but overall, the episode seems disjointed and weird. I’m not saying there’s necessarily anyone to blame, but it’s a little surprising that the show (which is relatively formulaic) still seems shaky after this many episodes.

Anyway, Bob and Larry are at home watching TV when a Tom Celeriac commercial comes on advertising a monster truck rally, with the all-new SMASHBREAKER truck. As big fans, Bob and Larry immediately want to buy it, and rush off to Mr. Lunt (Phil Vischer), who’s apparently a used car salesman (a profession that entirely suits his personality). He only has a tiny truck to show them at first, but then notices the SMASHBREAKER right behind them (“I don’t know how I missed that!”). Bob and Larry scrummage for money: Larry checks his “pockets” and finds only junk, and Bob has a mere $10, so they go home disappointed.

The phone is ringing as soon as they open the door, they fight trying to get to it first, and Bob distracts Larry (“Look over there! A lobster juggling marshmallows!”) long enough to answer it himself. A vaguely Woody Allen voice (Rob Paulsen) informs him of an inheritance that he has just . . . inherited – or rather, that Jimmy and Jerry have. Bob sadly tells the voice they have the wrong number and hangs up. Bob laments that it’s not fair that the gourds get a spontaneous inheritance (Bob has to explain what that it is to Larry, though he merely describes it as something being passed down to someone else, rather than having anything to do with death), when it’s Bob and Larry who really want to use it for something (the monster truck). Then Bob gets this amazingly devious look on his face as he realizes something.

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Cut to: Jimmy and Jerry in their own house, talking on the phone with the same voice telling them about the inheritance. When the doorbell rings, they fight over who gets to answer it first, with Jimmy distracting Jerry the same way Bob did with Larry. (Jerry: “Got me again, Jimmy. You know how much I love finding out what’s in other places.”) Instead of their expected inheritance, it’s Bob and Larry, who invite themselves in to hang out.

While the gourds are in the kitchen getting snacks, Bob explains his devious plan to Larry (that apparently couldn’t wait until they were right there in the house): they’ll pretend to be Jimmy and Jerry’s best friends, so the gourds will be willing to share their new inheritance and buy a monster truck for Bob and Larry. Clearly, Bob doesn’t consider either Jimmy or Jerry friends at all, which is slightly at odds with the previous episode (they didn’t get along, but they seemed to be more than mere acquaintances). In any case, Bob and Larry offer to help clean the gourds’ house to secretly prove their friendship.

The house, of course, is filthy, with a strange amount of dirty socks lying around. Everyone gets a broom (because what home doesn’t have a set of four brooms?), and they set to work. There’s a odd scene of Bob and Larry being attacked by vicious dust bunnies (à la the Killer Rabbit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail), which in itself doesn’t sound strange, but the “suspense” is off-kilter and the scene cuts are choppy. Bob and Larry also tease each other with the stinky socks in an obvious slapstick manner, and it simply doesn’t play well. Even with your audience as primarily children, they’re smart enough to know when something’s funny without it being shoved in their faces.

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Larry starts to daydream about the monster truck while washing dishes – which causes the other Veggies to yell at him to get back to work – which causes him to burst into song about having to clean – and Bob joins in, singing about their motivation for getting on Jimmy and Jerry’s good side – and then it changes to a more upbeat song about the joys of doing chores. Bit difficult to keep track of what’s going on, and though the song is a bit catchy, there’s a completely random lyric about not forgetting to “do [the chores] unto the Lord.” As there’s no Bible verse in this episode, I guess that was the best alternative they could think of? Just in case kids forgot they were watching a Christian show?

Once the house is clean, Jimmy makes the generous offer to repay Bob and Larry for their kindness, which they take to mean the inheritance (with the classic cha-ching! sound going off in the background). Somewhat surprisingly, Bob just asks straight out that they want a monster truck, and Jimmy agrees to share the inheritance to pay for it. The plan having worked, Bob and Larry immediately ditch the gourds and go back home to tell Mr. Lunt to bring around the monster truck as soon as possible. The doorbell rings, and they fight to answer it (with Bob playing the same “look over there!” trick on Larry). Jimmy and Jerry’s inheritance arrived, and they’ve come to share it with Bob and Larry.

Sharp viewers will probably have figured out by now that the problem with Bob’s plan was that he assumed the inheritance was a sum of money. But instead, it’s a petrified sandwich, “signed by Phil Vischer.” Bob and Larry are terribly disappointed and make no effort to hide the fact from the gourds. They go back inside, dejected, with Bob lamenting their inability to get the monster truck. Larry thoughtfully points out that they should’ve helped Jimmy and Jerry without expecting anything, that “helping others [the episode’s theme] is its own reward.” Bob agrees, adding that helping other people is simply the right thing to do.

When Mr. Lunt does arrive with their truck, Bob and Larry have to turn him down, but fortunately, Mr. Lunt just happens to have a exact replica toy version, and the two friends spend the rest of the afternoon playing with it. Not a bad episode overall, though the rushed slapstick scenes and jumpy transitions make more messy and spasmodic than it should be.

What about you? How do you help your kids learn about contentment and the joy of helping others? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

(Bonus pic of Larry looking cute!)

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

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