Movie Review - Larry Boy and the Fib from Outer Space/ Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed

NOTE: This review was written under a previous rating system. Some of the older reviews may express opinions and judgment calls that are not in line with our current standards.
Phil Vischer
Big Idea Productions

It would appear that, over the years, Big Idea Production’s growing popularity has been matched on the other side of the scale by a steady decline in their fidelity to biblical history. While this may cause misgivings about the original VeggieTales videos, the sub-series Larry Boy has thus far given no grounds for complaint on that account. These episodes follow purely fictional characters through dramatic stories of sin and confession in a way that is easy for children to understand—and perhaps even easier for them to forget.

Larry Boy is a self-described “super-hero,” though his powers come only from a few high-tech gizmos developed by his assistant. But, ultimately, neither these nor the hero’s limited powers of understanding can do anything to stop the super-villains featured in these stories. In the end, it is a confession from the young sinner that saves the day and Larry Boy, both.

The setting for all of this excitement is more like Mayfield than Gothom City, and the ‘50’s style cars, clothes, houses and activities instantly set the audience at ease, and let us know that there is no more to fear from Larry Boy than from one of the television programs from the innocent age of black-and-white. The idea that television from the ‘50’s was safe can be addressed another time, but if we want to look beyond the backdrop of the Larry Boy stories and begin to carefully examine the elements in the foreground, we might find that “safe” is a little too generous a word.

Violent Content:

One of the most disturbing elements in these programs, in my opinion—and one that has a fairly visible influence in our culture—is the running theme of comical pain. When a good-guy is injured—to whatever degree—children are not supposed to feel compassion, according to these videos, but amusement. Not only is this highly inappropriate, it’s even unbiblical*.

Sexual Content:

It would make sense to feel safe from “sexual content” in a film where all the characters are vegetables... however, the fact that there is not distinction between masculine and feminine body shape does not preclude the possibility of sensual conduct, such as the somewhat sensual “dancing.” A quick comment about a “constricting” super-hero suit might be considered in poor taste.

There are many behaviors in these videos that are either winked at or—worse—laughed at, which (when we call them for what they are) are the very sins that VeggieTales is supposed to be helping us avoid. Even fibbing is permitted in the second episode, in spite of all the effort that went into dealing with this issue in the first installment of the series. And the moral failings of the characters only get more humorous as they grow in significance. Larry Boy himself displays unashamed selfishness, vanity, cowardice—even panic—and yet manages to retain enough of his laurels to decorate his own deliberately self-glorifying music video. The misbehaviors extend beyond the hero, to almost all the adult characters—primarily those in authority. The father, the policeman—even the mayor, who is a woman—are all irrational and completely ineffective.

Another significant problem which may go unidentified by kids is the idea of improperly derived authority. The biblical purpose of civil government is to bear the sword, and this purpose does not, in its proper sense, extend to civilians. If Larry Boy has not derived his authority from legitimate powers (and it is never demonstrated that he has), the execution of civil justice has basically been transferred to a vigilante. Even the school teacher, who comes to the erring children with his gentle but firm question of whether they have something to tell him, is distracting us from lawful authority. The children’s parents are nearby, to whom they might confess; the teacher is not the only, nor even the most appropriate authority in this case.

Larry Boy is another well-intentioned Christian media project which does not end up accomplishing its goal. If the point was to define sin, it has failed by representing sin as primarily a breach of human relationships. If the point was to show children that sin has consequences, it failed by exaggerating those consequences to absurdity. If the point of Larry Boy was to help children conquer sin, we need only look at those children to tell whether it worked. Are children really any less likely to fib or gossip for having sat through thirty minutes of this material? I think not. This series has very little going for it, and that very little is at least equaled in weight by the negative and harmful elements. Larry Boy is not worth watching.

*Romans 12:15

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