After all my recent ranting and raving about Esther in pop culture, I watched a video this afternoon with the husband and kids that made me feel better. I’d first heard about it on Tablet, then on the OU’s website.
Kolrom media, who has produced a lot of music videos and shorts for the Orthodox audience (like the video for the song “Ana Avda” and a hilarious bit on Aish.com called “Sicko” about how NOT to do the mitzvah of visiting the sick), has just released a video about Purim that refers to all the midrashim and commentaries I talked about in my rant. And it’s funny. Although Esther doesn’t make an appearance. Even Mordechai barely shows up.
That’s because “Megillas Lester” is about a boy, Lester, who dreams he has messed up the Purim story so much that Esther doesn’t have a chance to become queen. And Mordechai doesn’t get a chance to save the king. So who will save the Jewish people from Haman’s evil plot?
The visuals are impressive for a direct-to-video release, although they’re not quite as elaborate as something by Pixar. But since many members of the intended audience (like my kids) haven’t seen anything by Pixar, that’s okay. The visuals balance accurate renderings of ancient Persia with the workings of a contemporary kid’s mind.
As a writer, I want a solid script, and this has got it. The crazy Purim Spiel-type antics are logical; the dialogue is clever. The humor relies a lot on puns, some of which require viewers to know Hebrew (I happen to love puns, but I know a lot of people don’t) and much of it does rely on some knowledge of the actual Megillas Esther. I consider this another indication that this is a film intended for an audience with a solid background in Yiddishkeit. However, it would be interesting to hear what a more mainstream Jewish viewer thinks.
I found the vocal performances to be top-notch. Standouts are Haman, Achashveirosh, Vashti, and Bigsan. There’s music in the movie, too. The absolute best part is when Haman sings a song called “I’m Evil.”
Or maybe that King Achashveirosh’s horse is named “Hangover.”
Or maybe it’s when Zeresh keeps complaining that Haman doesn’t take out the trash.