The meltdown… of kids’ movies
In what is becoming a weekly movie review column, I saw Ice Age 2 this weekend. Now I hated Ice Age (1). I saw it as one part Shrek, one part Monsters Inc. mixed together with worse animation, awful dialogue and voila – Ice Age. I felt so strongly about its crappiness that I almost got into fisticuffs at work.
So why did I end up going to see Ice Age 2?
Well, the woman I am currently dating has a 4 year old son (see my live routine for extensive, sitcom-potential humor). Because of this, my opportunities for female companionship this weekend consisted of either seeing Basic instinct 2 by myself with a hand towel or sucking it up and seeing Ice Age 2 with Mom and Son.
So after I saw Basic Instinct 2 I was tired so I gave in and I met Mom and Son for Ice Age 2. However, also present were the 7 and 4 year old daughters of Mom’s cousin (there is an easier way of saying that by I do not know if it is 2nd cousins or cousins removed or if they are just cousins like Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter – guys who were at the same cookouts during their teenage years).
So we ventured into the theater where I spent approximately $365 on concessions only to have one of the kids say – “I don’t like popcorn,” to which I respond, “And I don’t like being emasculated by small children, but since we’re all here why don’t you save my last shred of dignity and eat the popcorn.” I don’t think she knew what I was talking about.
So the movie began amidst the cacophony of children and babies. Why do people insist on bringing (having)babies to movies? A common excuse I hear is that “I couldn’t find a babysitter.” Well, by all means don’t allow bringing another life into the world to affect your movie watching! And remember your stroller for the club later on.
So the movie began and 90 excrutiating minutes later it ended. I heard one review of a fellow patron, “I didn’t expect much, but it ended up being funny.” I had a different take – I expected crap, but prayed that it would not be the deabacle that was Ice Age (1). My prayers went unanswered.
The real problem here is that kids movies are just garbage now. My generation and past generations had Snow White, Pinnochio, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmations, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King, not to mention the genius of Jim Henson (Fraggle Rock, Muppets, The Dark Crystal, Labrynth). Now, aside from Pixar and Shrek, the gross majority of kids’ movies these days are horrible.
There are several possible theories for this:
1) Perhaps like Saddam in Iraq, Disney may have been morally corrupt when they were a corporation denegrating minorities (Dumbo crows, Indians in Peter Pan, Kurds in Iraq), but the worldwide movie watching public still may have been better off from an entertainment point of view than they are today. And even since then (late 80s-early 90s), when Disney became more culturally sensitive, they actually stepped up and gave us the Magic, Larry and MJ of animated movies (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King). But Disney has lost its way and needs to find its racist or culturally sensitive roots (Valiant, Chicken Little, etc. don’t cut it). In other words, Disney needs a creative dictator to keep the animated film world in check so that movies like Doogal are not allowed free to terrorize innocent young minds.
2) Parents have gotten to a point where they will automatically go to any movie just to keep their kids quiet. Personally I think kids need a little more reading (although I know after a tough day playing video games a kid has to unwind with bad films). But that said, movie companies have learned that they do not need to reward the loyalty of families because the loyalty is undiscriminating – if there is a movie out for kids, they’ll see it. And with compeition from Madea’s Family Reunion, Final Destination 3 and the aforementioned Basic Instinct 2, it is no shock that parents won’t have anything to do even if they wanted to do something, further guranteeing Ice Age 2 tons of cash.
3) Movie theaters really don’t care about kids. There were 10:30 pm shows of Ice Age showing. 10:30? This is not a movie where adults will go by themselves (and still be legally competent). So now in an era where numerical parenting is at a high, and quality parenting is at a low, we have AMC theaters offering parents a chance to keep their 7 year olds out until past midnight. Personally I think after this blog – just taking your kid to see Ice Age 2 should constitute child abuse.
4) There are always people like me who are virtually held hostage by the movie industry. Around small kids I am prettty much Arnold Schwarzenegger from Kindergarten Cop, “This is oeur class pet, de ferret. Yes, yes, now weur haffing fan.” But the closest thing to a ferret I can give to three kids is Ice Age 2. In the words of Arnold – it was not fantastic.