Deanaland

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Some kid movies are a bust

My last blog inspired this week's column, so that's why you might read some familiar stuff.

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By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published April 26, 2006

When you decide to become a parent, you take on an overwhelming responsibility.

You make a commitment to take this sweet, blanketed bundle home from the hospital and raise it into a fully functional adult in just 18 years.

And, during that time, you agree to watch a whole lot of kid movies.

Kid movies aren’t necessarily a bad thing. “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Charlotte’s Web” are classics that I could watch over and over.

I also loved the more recent “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.” This movie is one of the best I’ve seen in years. I saw it twice in the theatre and bought the DVD the day it came out. I listen to the soundtrack whenever I’m in the car. And occasionally, when no one’s around, I check the back of my closet in the hopes that instead of a wall or a mountain of my shoes, I’ll find a passageway into a distant wonderland where I get to be queen.

Then there are the bad kid movies.

Not movies about bad kids. Poorly made movies marketed to children.

I’m afraid I saw one last weekend.

Saturday, I took Julia, my first-grader, to see “The Wild.” This is a Walt Disney production that features some animals in a New York City zoo, including a single lion dad and his cub (who, in the spirit of “Finding Nemo,” become separated, ensuing in a 90-minute search), a koala bear who inexplicably acts drunk, a squirrel who has the hots for a giraffe, and a herd of wildebeests who decide the drunk koala bear is some sort of god who can transport them to the top of the food chain.

Throw in the fact that all of these animals suffer from some sort of hyperactivity disorder, and you’ve got “The Wild.”

I used free passes to see this movie and I still paid too much.

It wasn’t even that funny. And I like to think that I know funny. “Monsters Inc.,” “Finding Nemo” and the Toy Story movies were hilarious. “The Wild” tries to get there, but it doesn’t.

Disney has spent decades putting out some of the best children’s entertainment there is. So what were they thinking here? Were they trying to cash in on some of the popularity of DreamWorks’ “Madagascar” (which is also about animals in a New York City zoo)? Do they believe all they need to make a children’s movie is celebrities to do the voices for obnoxious, caffeine-addicted animals?

One thing “The Wild” adheres to is the Disney phenomenon of “The Missing Parent.” Ryan, the lion cub, has a mother who is conspicuously absent. So did Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine and Belle. At least we know what happened to Simba’s dad (“The Lion King”) and Nemo’s mom (“Finding Nemo”). We, with our kids, got to watch them die.

A friend of mine, who is Ukrainian, told me that a lot of kids in her native country aren’t allowed to watch children’s movies from the U.S. because of all the dead and dying parents depicted in them. I really like some of these movies, but sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a better way to entertain kids.

Back to “The Wild.” Here’s what I recommend. Watch “The Lion King” instead. Then take a few Sudafeds and go to bed. What you will dream will look a whole lot like “The Wild.” And you will have saved your seven bucks.

7 Comments:

  • At Wed Apr 26, 06:12:00 AM, Blogger "Snapshot" said…

    Thanks for the heads up. We won't waste the money. Don't you find that kid movies are either REALLY good or horrible? No much in between.

     
  • At Wed Apr 26, 06:50:00 AM, Blogger Lauren said…

    You know, I've never thought about it before, but you're right...it does seem like all the Disney characters have only one parent (usually a dad). What about Bambi? A quite traumatizing movie for a kid, if I ever saw one.

     
  • At Wed Apr 26, 07:46:00 AM, Blogger Tiffany said…

    There is actually a whole branch of folklore studies that is dedicated to exploring the psychology behind the missing parent and/or evil step-parent dynamic. There were some catchy terms and theories that surrounded the phenomenon, but I can't recall them now. (I guess I really got a lot out of those classes...)

    Anyway, I agre with you. Is it really that hard to tell a story for children where the parents have a normal, functioning, relationship where they are both, oh, I don't know -- ALIVE?!?!?!

    Thanks for the heads-up about the movie. We don't have any kids, but we sometimes take our puppy out to the drive-in with us as our excuse when we want to see a kiddie flick. I think we'll just wait until we -- uh, the dog -- finds another children's movie that looks good.

     
  • At Wed Apr 26, 08:25:00 PM, Blogger David Michael said…

    There was a Frontline documentary on PBS recently about meth. Be careful with the Sudafed, however, I do think you would be an excellent subject on the A&E show, "Intervention." Most of their guests do not have much of a sense of humor. Maybe if you really got into the meth, you could be a guest on "Bounty Hunter" with Dog.

     
  • At Wed Apr 26, 08:55:00 PM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    David, since I don't have cable, your comment makes no sense to me whatsoever. Or maybe it's the Sudafed. I don't know. But I do know this: I can quit any time I want to.

     
  • At Thu Apr 27, 08:10:00 PM, Blogger David Michael said…

    Deana,

    I guess it didn't make much sense. Of course, it could be the Sudafed talking. By the way, if you want cable, and any of your neighbors have cable, I can hook you up at a discount rate -- between you and me.

    David

     
  • At Mon May 15, 08:37:00 AM, Blogger Chris Benjamin said…

    Deana:

    With your permission, I want to add this article on The Wild to my Magic Lantern Show blog.

    The MLS is my commentary on movies and TV shows. I doubt that there's three people that ever read the Magic Lantern Show, but it is there to be discovered one day.

    Anyway, your article inspired me to revive the blog for this summer after a long hiatus that ended with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

    See you at the movies! Tell Chad I said hello!

     

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