C'mon Hollywood: More Rango, Less Chipmunks!
THE LORAX, a kid’s movie based on the book by Dr. Seuss, dominated the box office this past weekend, pulling in just over $70 million bucks. Now, what does that tell you? Do you think there’ll be more Dr. Seuss adaptations on the way? You bet your ass. Is it a good thing? Depends on whom you ask.
Children’s movies are made for children, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed by anyone older than five. This is especially important to parents, who are inundated with some of the most irritatingly awful movies and shows geared towards kids. There is no escape. But, there is hope…on occasion.
As a parent (especially if you’re a movie geek) you long for the day that you’ll be able to watch your favorite films with your offspring, sharing and reliving the joy of those films through their eyes for the first time. However, there’s a grace period to this. The first few years and even beyond that, you find yourself having to sacrifice brain cells, watching shit that you would never, in a million years, dream of watching otherwise.
The problem with these films is that they cater to the lowest common denominator. Not only do they treat your kids like morons, but they laugh at you while you suffer through it with them. It’s not enough that you spend your money on the merchandise, including toys, clothes, diapers, and happy meals; no, they have to drive the stake further into your heart by making a movie that is completely intolerable.
CARS 2 was so surprisingly awful and shameless in its execution that my son begged to leave the theater out of boredom. It was an insult to parents (and general moviegoers) everywhere. There is an entire aisle filled with toys from that movie, including end caps, which is the most telling about that film. It was never about the quality of the movie, but the ka-ching of merchandising.
The saving grace for any parent is the film that caters to both the child and the parent. Films like RANGO, KUNG FU PANDA, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, and FANTASTIC MR. FOX are great examples. Gorgeous animation, genuine humor, and an engaging story that doesn’t treat you like an idiot. These films recognize not only the target audience, but also the people that are taking that target audience to the theater. What it boils down to is respect and consideration; two pillars that film’s like ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS and THE SMURFS completely ignore.
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS was a fun little Saturday-morning cartoon that got morphed into ho-hum CGI, with decent actors selling their souls for a paycheck, and wince-inducing dialogue referencing some form of pop-culture every five seconds like clockwork. It’s not only insulting, but it’s embarrassing. You struggle everyday to make the right decisions for your kids and here you are making a piss poor one by taking them to an absolutely awful movie with no redeeming qualities.
The opposite side of the “brainless” kids film is the “political agenda” kids film. Why do we need any political messages, especially when they’re so pedestrian? The themes are beaten over our heads in Kindergarten fashion, never presenting anything of substantiated truth, just broad, sweeping ideals. Everything from Big Oil to global warming is thrown over you like a bucket of ice water.
It’s not to say that these themes can’t be covered in a film, but why not save it for an audience that would be more engaged? A kid that can’t tie his own shoelaces is not looking for solutions to save the rainforest. If you want to engage young minds, shouldn’t it be with relevant material? What about bullying, teamwork, confidence, family, responsibility, etc?
Studios know that adults are going to bring their kids to the movies. All that any parent wants in sharing this time-honored tradition with their kids is to enjoy a good, quality film that is relevant and appropriate for the audience it caters to. For all the effort it takes to line up a babysitter, prepare your child for a two-hour journey to the theater, buying snacks, beverages, and playing that f*cking stuffed animal game 12 times in a row, the very least the studios can do is put some effort into their 90-minute, merchandise-laden, “message” film.
And who knows, they might win an Oscar for it…
|Extra Tidbit:||I know there are a lot of Schmoes out there with kids...Let your voices be heard and strikeback with your thoughts on the issue.|