The Roach Approach (DVD)
You just can’t help but be intrigued by something that comes out of a place named Wacky World Studios, but it was still with great skepticism that I fired up the ole DVD player and prepared to give The Roach Approach a chance. I have to go on record here&mdashI HATE roaches and have a definite predisposition against the whole concept. But, first impressions being what they are, I swallowed my disgust and decided to give creator Bruce Barry an honest chance at selling me on the roach delivery system for the stories of Noah and the ark, Daniel in the lions’ den, and David and Goliath.
Bruce Barry has created a roach subculture under a boardwalk down by the sea (hmmm…sounds like a song lyric) where 3,000 year old Grandpa Lou and Grandma Nana roach entertain their grandson Squiggz and his two friends Flutter and Cosmo with tales from the Bible which teach values such as love, hope, respect, trust in God, faith, and friendship while helping them to persevere and overcome tough circumstances in their own lives. The theme song of the three movies in the collection so far is “Everybody Needs A Little Love.”
Even after watching a little, I still wasn’t completely sold so I decided to watch Barry’s explanation in the special features section. Basically what happened is that Barry returned home one night and was about to obliterate a cockroach crawling across his doorstep when he realized that the cockroach had his purpose in life, too, and so he put his inner child (he has an extremely active one!) to work and developed the roach approach to God’s revelation.
There are now three films currently in the series. Roach Approach: Don’t Miss The Boat! tells the story of Noah and the ark and Roach Approach: The Mane Event! retells the story of Daniel in the lions’ den. Both debuted in August, 2005 and received the Dove Seal Award for Christian family entertainment.
The latest offering, called Roach Approach: Slingshot Slugger, which chronicles the tale of David and Goliath, is available on DVD today, March 21, 2006. The obvious target is the Christian audience, but beyond that, the intent is quite unclear. The press information claims that the stories are “a heartwarming experience the whole family will enjoy.” However, I believe that the focus must be narrowed for a number of reasons.
Overall, the plot line, language, and humor are far too mature and sophisticated for children under five or six unless they have a vocabulary and sense of humor beyond the norms of that age group. It is a real pleasure to see animation that isn’t completely inane and “dumbed down,” but the average toddler will probably wander off to play with toys before five minutes have transpired. I seriously doubt that even having mommy and daddy sitting with them will keep them focused. There is just too much to visualize and correlate and too much scene-shifting for younger age groups to keep up with.
At the other end of the spectrum, children ten and up are the ones too sophisticated to give much time or notice to these movies. They may be intrigued by the music of Christian artists like tobyMac, Michael McDonald, and Nicole C. Mullin, but I just don’t see them remaining with the family after they see what the first few minutes hold—and it would ruin the family experience to listen to them express their opinion.
As for parents… there are some jokes only they will get and that do evoke that “I can’t believe they did or said that” kind of snort, but sitting through the movie will be an obligation born in the recognition that this is quality time spent with the kids; the movie is short, after all, and the popcorn is good so cleaning up the kitchen can wait awhile.
I do applaud the precedent of quality that Bruce Barry has established with these three movies. The animation is first rate and the continuity in background, coloration, and characterization is superb. Barry obviously feels God’s call on his life strongly and he seems very sincere in his desire to reach children in a meaningful way. And okay, so maybe we do need to provide for the diversity of our children and the things that attract them or turn them off.
Me, I prefer talking vegetables; but there are plenty of kids out there who hate vegetables—and so it may be possible to reach them through something that they know tastes yucky and is as unwelcome on a dinner plate as… well, a roach.