Tuesday, October 08, 2002

The cheese-ifying of the Bible continues with the big Veggie Tales movie. But they are freaking funny. This story is by Rob Elder, a sharp young writer I met at the Tribune this summer.

Behind the nondescript doors of the makeshift Big Idea animation studio in a rehabbed Lombard Woolworth building, talking vegetables rule. Now, they are trying to expand their reign to movie theaters nationwide. Big Idea, led by "VeggieTales" castmates Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, sold $30 million of its computer-animated, Judeo-Christian-based videos in the late 1990s. This weekend, like the computer-animated "Toy Story" and "Antz" before them, "VeggieTales'" cast of salad ingredients is trying to storm Hollywood with "Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie." It's a huge leap to try to play in the same league as Disney and Dreamworks, but three weeks before the opening (it was being shown on 900 screens this weekend and in two weeks will expand its reach), Big Idea CEO Phil Vischer seems calm inside the Midwest's largest animation studio, which is now reaching a fever pitch of activity.

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