Monday, July 10, 2006

I consider this a G-rated blog. Better go round me up some aliens.

My girls are (just ask them) the last two children on the face of the Earth who have not yet seen Cars. I guess I heard something about the film a while back, but I really didn't pay much attention until they started bringing it up on a daily basis.

So now I have to figure out if it's an appropriate movie for them. My barometer for that is generally the violence quotient. In theory, I disapprove of violence as entertainment. I figure, if it's not something we want them to learn or practice, why show them detailed, repeated examples of it?

Of course, it's all subjective. I really like Shrek, and they like it too, so I kind of just wince through the dragon chase and, especially, the brawl. Robin, knowing my views and the official policy on such things, likes to point out that she likes the whole movie except for that scene. (Perhaps it's a parenting tradeoff: you reign in the violence, you raise yourself a little kiss-ass...) (Oh, come on, you'd have thought the same thing if you could have heard her. You just wouldn't have said it out loud. I'm sure she'll learn the fine art of subtlety soon enough and then balance will be restored.)

It's rated G, which you'd think would count for something, but the Chicken Little experience cured me of making unsubstantiated assumptions about children's movies. You know the story of Chicken Little, right? The cute little chicken sits under an oak tree, gets conked on the head by an acorn and thinks the sky is falling. I believe it turns into something of a boy-who-cried-wolf scenario, although I don't know how the traditional story reaches closure: surely the sky doesn't really fall? (As usual, Wikipedia has the answer.)

Anyway, knowing what I did about the plot, and that it was rated G, I went ahead and rented the movie. It's Chicken Little. How bad could it be? I'll say this: the movie version of Chicken Little does adhere to the basic plot line. There's a little chicken. He's cute. He gets hit by an acorn. Everyone laughs at him for thinking the sky is falling. You know where it goes from there? It goes on a brief tour of school bullying and ends up with spider-shaped aliens that are as tall as buildings and shoot death rays. An entire fleet of them darkens the sky as far as the eye can see and sets about wreaking mayhem with intent to destroy the planet. I must have missed that page of the Little Golden Book. (Can you imagine if the Pokey Little Puppy ever hit the big screen?)

And yet? We ended up renting it again. I am having an awfully hard time finding the line here.

Anyway, at least I knew enough to do a little preliminary research on Cars, since it seems pretty clear that we'll be seeing it eventually. And it looks like it'll be fine. In the same way that Shrek is fine, which is to say: mostly fine. Actually, the first set of reviews I came across turned out to be on a Christian website. The reviewers there made the violence sound very mild to nonexistant, although they were concerned with jokes like "I'd give my two left lugnuts for a date with her" and a VW van who is clearly stoned (you'd think that would be the character voiced by Cheech Marin, but apparently it's not.)

From what I've read, the violence consists of crashes caused intentionally by a malicious competitor in a race. I probably read a total of 25 or 30 single-paragraph reviews (and some longer blog entries) by individuals who had seen the movie with their kids and you know what? Only one single reviewer mentions that there is also a dream sequence featuring gigantic spark plugs with long, spider-like legs walking over a city, shooting gigantic spark blasts into the city and blowing everything up, which is ultimately resolved by a missile-packed military helicopter, piloted by [the hero] and ends in explosions and destruction all around. Of course, it's rated G, so I'm sure it's appropriate for the kids.

I don't know. I know they'll see it all eventually but seriously. War of the Worlds in G-rated movies?


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