VeggieTales: The Little Drummer Boy

I actually wanted to do The Toy That Saved Christmas, since I used to love that movie as a kid, but I can’t justify renting it on Amazon when I just asked J if I could rent The Giver yesterday (spoiler alert: The book is better), Musn’t get greedy, especially since I’m toying with the idea of asking to watch Maze Runner.

So, we’re going to be watching: The Little Drummer boy!

I’ll let you all in on a little secret: I’m a sucker for Christmas. All aspects of it. Sure I don’t believe the bible is real, but I mean, Harry Potter isn’t real either, and I still enjoyed it. The bible does have some good stories, and the story of Jesus’ birth is one of the better ones. I mean, it’s a cool concept: a god sending his son to die for fallen humanity. Of course, you kinda have to squint a little to forget that the person god is saving us from is… himself.

So, before I get started on my usual Christmas rants, I want to make one thing very clear: I love Christmas. I also have no problem with people using the holiday to celebrate Jesus’ birth. What I do have a problem with is… well, actually, let’s not get into that right now. Let’s just let things unfold as they go, shall we?

Good. That little disclaimer out the way, let’s begin.

The scene opens with Pa Grape reading a newspaper while listening to (a secular) Christmas song. Junior Asparagus comes downstairs and starts practicing his drums by banging 2 sticks on the staircase. Mr. And Mrs. Asparagus come downstairs and call out, “ok Pa, we’re all set.”

Hang on, do they call him “Pa” because that is his name/title in the community, or is the grape supposed to be Junior Asparagus’ actual grandfather?

Can Vegetables even intermarry with fruit? How would…. you know what, never mind.

Junior’s dad actually calls Pa grape “Grandpa,” so yes, Pa Grape is Junior’s…

You know what, never mind.

Junior’s parents say they’re thinking of getting him a real drum set for Christmas, because he’s such a natural. Grandpa tells them to get him the kind that don’t make noise, and I decide I like grandpa because oh my GOD I don’t know what I would do if my child look up the drums. Make him go practice in the barn or something.

Junior’s friends come by to pick him up for caroling. Junior is too busy drumming to hear, and they leave. Their opinion of Junior’s drumming is that it sounds like “a really bad kitty.”

Junior is sad his friends “totally ditched me.” Junior insists this is on purpose, even though he KNEW they were coming and should’ve kept his ears open for the doorbell.

Pa Grape decides to read him a story to keep him occupied. I hate it when this happens. Couldn’t they have just skipped all this and started it out like it was a real story? I HATE “stories within a story” by having the character tell a story. It’s reason #2 I HATED the princes bride.

Anyway, the drummer boy, played by Junior (of course) is a shepherd boy named Aaron. He is being given presents by his parents… wait, why? Is it his birthday? Because this story is about the birth of Jesus, and I’m pretty sure Christmas wasn’t around back then. I mean, it wasn’t around really till hundreds of years after the bible was even written, but I feel like it is an especially awful error to have someone celebrate christmas before Jesus was even born.

Anyway, Aaron gets a drum set for… a present. He’s over the moon about it.

Aaron’s drum playing makes the animals dance. Cue footage of dancing camel.

Sadly, the Romans wanted Aaron’s parents’ land, so they… burned it to a crisp. Aaron hid with the animals, but the parents died.

There were a hundred different ways to die back then without needing to introduce a villain, but no, we need one, so, um let’s throw in some ROMANS. Anyway, this convinces Aaron that he hates people. ALL people.

We get an interruption where Pa Grape goes up to get some food. It’s boring and unnecessary, and now I want fruitcake.

Pa Grape reads about the census that Mary and Joseph were participating in. This particular census (which records show occurred in the spring, btw) was unusual in that the government made people travel to the place where they were born, but only the men, because I’m sure women didn’t count. Otherwise, Mary wouldn’t have been able to be with Joseph.

Which is good, because anyone who forces me to go back to the place I was born is likely to wind up with their head chopped off. Me? Go back to Berrien Springs, a town full of Seventh Day Adventists? Over your dead body, bitches.

Ahem. Anyway, Pa Grape adds in a disclaimer that the little drummer boy isn’t found in the bible, but was inspired by the Christmas story.

A quick google search reveals that not much is known about the history of the tale. The tune is said to be Czech in origin, but even that is debated.

We get two goons jabbering about milk, honey, and chocolate milk. There’s more goons, and they appear to be a traveling circus trying to cash in on the census traveling. Along comes Aaron and his dancing animals, so they put on a little show for him. Insert song and dance number. The song is about how Aaron should join this traveling circus. The Gourd tells Aaron he can’t be alone, he needs money to eat. Ben Haramed, the leader, promises Aaron that if he makes a lot of money, he can be so rich he never has to deal with people again.

So Aaron and his dancing animals joined the traveling circus.

Cut back to Junior Asparagus and Pa Grape talking about how Haramed tricked Aaron into joining which… doesn’t sound like a trick to me? It sounds like Haramed actually used… logic? Unless he doesn’t plan on paying Aaron but so far we have no implications of that, except that Pa Grape tells us this.

Oh, and there’s some talk about how taxes means “paying money to the Romans, who, btw, totally killed Aaron’s parents.” Sigh. No, taxes is NOT just “giving money to the government.” Taxes are there for a REASON. In those days, the Romans used the taxes to build roads and highways, and I THINK for sanitation but don’t quote me on that last one. Taxes are money which is paid for a SERVICE, like road maintenance. Sure the Roman tax at the time was really heavy and tax collector was synonymous with “thief,” but I feel like this could be explained in 2 sentences, and it wouldn’t make taxes sound like this horrible even thing that only bad guys do.

I know there are Christians out there who really believe that, but VeggieTales is meant to appeal to a mainstream audience. You know, the audience that reads the bible verse that says “render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar’s,” aka, “pay your damn taxes.”

Anyway, back to the story, the Gourd is telling bad jokes (what do you get when you cross a Roman with a head of lettuce? Ceasar salad! what do you call someone who hangs out with musicians? A drummer. Does anybody get that last one, cuz I don’t. And a better answer to the first would be “romaine lettuce.”)

We get some heavy handed preaching about how Aaron has not forgiven and forgotten what happened to his parents. I don’t think he should, but of course this movie thinks otherwise.

The traveling circus sets up shop in busy Jerusalem. No one likes the show until Aaron comes out with his dancing animals. There’s a Star Wars reference as Bernie, the Gourd with the terrible jokes, is having slushies thrown at him. “Help me Ben Haramed, you’re my only hope.”

Ben Haramed has a long argument with Aaron about how he never smiles or laughs. Aaron comes across like a petulant child who is being asked to smile for a picture and is just being rather stubborn about the whole thing. I NEVER SMILE. I DON’T LAUGH. EVER. I DON’T EVER SMILE OR LAUGH, EVER.

Aaron and the animals do a song and dance. Aaron sings about how he only smiles for his friends, the animals.

The lyrics aren’t anything to write home about but the song is catchy, and I can listen to it without booze. So, props, guys.

The audience multiplies in size and begs for an encore.

Aaron gets pissed that they’re happy and he’s not. He starts shouting, and the audience starts getting angry. God, Aaron, ruin everything. You need that money. Don’t go on and on about how you don’t need money, or anything from anybody, when you’ve made your home in the desert, which is not known for its farmable land. How are you going to EAT without money, grah?

We interrupt your regularly scheduled movie for Silly Songs with Larry, always my favorite part of the show.

This song is “8 Poilsh Foods of Christmas,” Which is about a guy named Oscar (likely the Oscar from the I love My Lips song) bringing food to a party.

The 8 Polish Foods of Christmas
Bob: So, what did you bring us?

Oscar: What I bring you? I tell you what I bring you.
The first Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
A boiled potato topped with dillweed.
The second Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Two steamed pierogies...

Jimmy: What's a pierogi?
Oscar: It's a dough, wrapped around meat.
Jimmy: Oh...

All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed.

Oscar: The third Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Three simmered gwumpkies...
Larry: What's a gwumpkey?
Oscar: It's a cabbage wrapped around meat.
Larry:  Oh..

Jimmy: Two steamed pierogies.
All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed.

Oscar: The fourth Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party
Four baked paprikas...
Archibald: Now, what is a paprika?
Oscar: It's a bell pepper stuffed with meat.
Archibald: I see.

Larry: Three Simmered gwumpkies,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed.

Oscar: The fifth Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Five smoked kielbasas!
Pa: What's a kielbasa?
Oscar: It's pretty much just meat.
Pa: Oh.

Archibald: Four baked paprikas,
Larry: Three simmered gwumpkies,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed.

Oscar: The sixth Polish Cristmas dish I bring to the party,
Six fried chruscikis.
Bob: Let me guess, something in the meat family?
Oscar: Actually, it's a delightful pastry with a thin flaky crust.
All: Ohhhhh!
Pa: Five smoked kielbasas!
Archibald: Four baked paprikas,
Larry: Three simmered gwumpkies,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped
with dill weed.

Bob: Wow Oscar, I'm gettin' kinda full, I think that's about..

Oscar: The seventh Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Seven pitted prunes...
Jr: I don't like prunes!
Oscar: With this food, you'll need 'em son.
Archie: Oh, is that right!
Pa: Uh huh!

Bob: Six fried chruscikis,
Pa: Five smoked kielbasas!
Archibald: Four baked paprikas,
Larry: Three simmered gwumpkies,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped
with dill weed.

Pa;  I'm gunna bust!  I couldn't eat another bi...

Oscar: The eighth Polish Christmas dish I bring to the party,
Eight poppy seed cakes,
Larry: Poppies, poppies, poppies...

Archibald: I'm feeling rather sleepy. There's no place like home.
Jr: Seven pitted prunes,
Bob: Six fried chruscikis,
Pa: Five smoked kielbasas!
Arcibald: Four baked paprikas,
Larry: Three simmered gwumpkis,
Jimmy: Two steamed pierogis,
All: And a boiled potato topped with dillweed!

That does not sound like enough food to feed a crowd. At all.

Back to the story, the traveling circus has fled into the desert, and Aaron is still with him, despite his stupidity. Haramed wants to know what’s wrong with him. Claims Aaron owes him for the money he lost from his outburst.

and then the traveling circus meets ups tin the 3 wise men. The wise men were following the star. You know, the one that appeared over Jesus and guided the wiremen to the place of his birth.

Ellen White, the Adventist Prophet, writes in The Desire of Ages that actually, it wasn’t really a star. It was really an angel up in the sky guiding them, but the wise men saw it as a star because that’s what they understood. Which would mean the bible isn’t infallible, because the bible says “star.” I get the feeling this is why Seventh Day Adventists like to leave out this detail when telling the Christmas story; it would either undermine Ellen White’s status as prophetess, or the authority of the bible. And they can’t have either one of those now, can they?

Lest anybody attempt to call Shenanigans and tell me I’m wrong, here it is, in her own words. From The Desire of Ages, Page 60. Which may or may not actually BE page 60 of whatever copy you happen to pick up. It’s in Chapter 6:

The wise men had seen a mysterious light in the heavens upon that night when the glory of God flooded the hills of Bethlehem. As the light faded, a luminous star appeared, and lingered in the sky. It was not a fixed star nor a planet, and the phenomenon excited the keenest interest. That star was a distant company of shining angels, but of this the wise men were ignorant. Yet they were impressed that the star was of special import to them. They consulted priests and philosophers, and searched the scrolls of the ancient records. The prophecy of Balaam had declared, “There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Num. 24:17. Could this strange star have been sent as a harbinger of the Promised One? The magi had welcomed the light of heaven-sent truth; now it was shed upon them in brighter rays. Through dreams they were instructed to go in search of the newborn Prince.

I mean, shoot, if what she says is true, even the old testament contradicts the new one because it was predicted a STAR would appear, not a company of angels pretending to be a star.

Yes, Adventists take the bible literally, so you should not listen to them try to retcon as they tell you the bible was written by ignorant men who couldn’t tell the difference between an angel and a star AND in the next breath, say that God, a divine being who never makes a mistake, inspired every word of scripture.

So, that is your interesting tidbit of the day about Seventh Day Adventist culture.

Anyway, turns out the 3 not-so-wise men are happy to welcome the traveling circus to their little party.

Wait, what? Aaron and Haramed don’t notice the star, because of their sins of unforgiveness and greed, respectively. Remember, kids: forgiving and forgetting that people KILLED YOUR PARENTS is a SIN and you will go to HAY-ELL if you don not forGIVE them.

The concept of Christian forgiveness is quite screwed up, but that’s another rant altogether. Moving along.

The bible doesn’t mention the names of the Magi, but apparently there is a tradition that does…. wait what, really? *googles* Well, that’s interesting. I’m not sure why Christianity set the number of wise men at 3, or where these names came from, but they are: Caspar/Gaspar (the Veggie Version has gone with Gaspar, for obvious reasons), Melchior, and… not Cuke Skywalker. Sorry Larry, you don’t get to pretend to be a Jedi. This is not Star Wars, though a movie called The First Christmas: Star Wars Style,  WOULD be very interesting. I feel like Larry is on to to something here.  The real name of the 3rd is Balthazar.

Huh. You learn something new every day.

Haramed makes a deal with the Magi, selling off Aaron’s camel while Berny distracts Aaron.

Aaron is understandably upset, and goes off after Joshua and the Magi.

Aaron watches the Shepherds gather around while the angels tell them of Jesus’ birth, and then sing praises to him. Except we don’t get to see the angels. Only blobs of light where they would be.

This is a CLOSE UP of the angels. Seriously.

Following the shepherds, Aaron and his animal friends find Joshua, but then a Roman in a chariot runs over Baba, the little lamb. Aaron, of course, is upset, and goes to the Magi for help. The Magi are conveniently in the stable, worshipping the baby Jesus.

Melchior tells Aaron he’s a Magi, not a doctor, but the baby can help. Aaron doesn’t get it, and neither do I, since I’m unaware of Jesus using any healing powers before he hit the age of 30, but setting that aside for a good story, Aaron tells Melchior he doesn’t have a gift.

He’s worried about not having a gift for a “King” that is born in a stable. I’m not sure how they managed to convince Aaron he was a king, because even back then, kings were NOT born in stables.

Aaron goes up to the manger, and then sings the song The Little Drummer Boy. I’m sure we all know it, so I’ll avoid posting lyrics.

Playing the song with drums filled Aaron’s heart with joy an drove, and e forgave the people who hurt his parents…

I feel like something is missing here… playing a song for a baby king and then having the king smile at him healed him… yeeeeaaaaahhhh sorry not buying it. Maybe there was something in the original story that I am missing? Which came first, the song or the story? I think the song, based on googling, but I could be wrong. So I feel like the story could’ve been easily edited to make more gorram sense.

Why oh WHY is the fullscreen button literally right next to the “skip ahead to the end of the movie” button? Seriously, who’s dumbass idea was that?!

Anyway, after Aaron plays his song, someone comes up to him and –OH SNAP! His parents SURVIVED! They thought Aaron died in the fire, and he thought they died… finally, an ending I actually LIKE. Yes, I’m a sucker for sappy Christmas movies. Sue me.

Oh, and in case you were worrying about the lamb, don’t worry, his parents take care of it.

Aaron thought the newborn king was the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen which, SNORT, have you ever SEEN a newborn? they’re not cute. Or remotely beautiful. They’re wrinkled and red and ugly. They don’t get cute for another few days or a week. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who has SUCKER tattooed on her forehead when it comes to babies and children.

Junior’s caroling friends then come to call at his house which sounds weird but whatever. I guess they decided to carol on his street.

They then have a 2 minute talk about the misunderstanding at the beginning of the movie. Love and forgiveness all around…. yawn, go back to the Christmas carols and the reunited parents and son.

The end credit music, unsurprisingly, is The Little Drummer Boy. And since I’m a sucker for Christmas music, and this song is very well done, I listened to it 3 times.

In reading the reviews on Amazon, I’m not the only one disappointed with the resolution of the story. Other people also felt it was too rushed and forced. There is nothing in here about why Jesus coming as a baby should change Aaron’s life. It’s just sort of a magical thing that happens when he sees what should be an ordinary newborn. (The bible says Jesus was not ugly that we should despise him, yet not beautiful that we should love him for his beauty. It therefore stands to reason that Jesus would’ve looked like a typical human newborn: pretty darn ugly.)

I’m also surprised there was no comparison between Jesus forgiving us for our sins and Aaron forgiving the Romans for theres. I would have found it extremely problematic so I’m almost kind of glad, but it would’ve fit right in with the Christian narrative, and would’ve at least made the story make sense, because otherwise there is literally no explanation for why seeing a baby suddenly changes Aaron’s life. I feel like you could have still had the story: Aaron angry, then finds his parents, happy ending, and left the whole story of Jesus out, and not lost anything from the story.

And that’s…. no ok, because, Jesus’ birth is sort of supposed to be the point of the story, not Aaron’s whiny childish angst.

I think the movie is ok, but it falls so short at the end. I just… feel this movie is lacking.

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