Posts Tagged ‘Wall-e’


Sometimes I think Hollywood should only be making kids’ movies. They usually show more moral compass and creativity than what passes for their adult fare. While grown-up Hollywood studio films are often insulting to the intelligence, one’s sense of right and wrong, as well as predictable, some of the kids’ movies can be quite refreshing, especially when viewed with a kid, or even a teenager.

ParaNorman is a great kids’ film, and it plays with some well-worn tropes. These horror movie cliches are rubbed thin in other contexts but here are reinvented and given enough of a twist to thrill children of all ages. We have zombies, witches, and yes, the very real historical record concerning mass hysteria, religious intolerance and persecution of scapegoats. In this case, the scapegoat is a young girl, who over the centuries has become a powerful witch from beyond the grave.

Enter Norman, who is a slight, frail boy bullied at school, hated on at home, and considered a freak by just about everyone. This loner has a unique “gift,” as in the Sixth Sense, he sees dead people. Norman not only sees dead people, but he’s the only human alive who can talk with them, communicate their concerns.

Everything goes to hell on the night the witch’s spell comes around, and something must be done. And guess who gets the honor of being the only person who can do anything about it? All pretty much an expected setup, but then the twists come. ParaNorman is funny and worth the experience. It has a strong central theme concerning reconciliation, peace and understanding. This is where kids’ movies shine, while Hollywood’s less mature “adult” aimed “entertainment product” devolves to torture-porn and superiority. Their “entertainment” ends with the biggest explosion, killing the irredeemable villain, by a “hero” who is not significantly any more moral than said villain.

I’ll take PARANORMAN, WALL-E, BATTLE FOR TERRA, IRON GIANT or A BUG’S LIFE any day over 95% of the live-action violence they’re peddling. Rent it for your kids, or see if it’s still playing at the second run theaters.

Idiocracy on DVD


(Article orginally appeared on Counterpunch)

In a time when one literally has to argue that exploding nuclear power plants really do pose grave risks to human health — against people with letters after their names — the case could easily be made that we’re already living in an Idiocracy.  As Japan finds itself irradiated and helpless to stop the radioactive isotopes escaping from multiple reactors, still the President of the United States refuses to put a halt to expanding the nuclear industry here.

Take that snapshot, that microcosm of what’s wrong with the world today and expand it out to the food chain, the rainforests, the air we breathe, the drinking water we ingest, the chemicals sprayed on our lawns and between the cracks of concrete.  In every facet of our lives compromises have been made for us, often without our knowledge or consent.  In the case of genetically-modified crops the government has long abdicated its responsibility and refuses to regulate.  Genes from God-knows-where co-exist with the natural genes in all manner of foodstuffs.  These foods are deliberately thrown into the food chain in a manner that we cannot know what’s in it, where it came from, or what it does to lab rats.  We’re the lab rats!

It’s unsurprising that the invisible poisons and genetic experiments can be force fed us when people willingly choose to ingest all sorts of unhealthy junk.

Which leads me, hamfistedly, back to Mike Judge’s comedy/sci-fi Idiocracy, a film that takes these trends to their logical conclusions.

There are many factors to consider when a great film doesn’t turn a large profit.  Idiocracy does not appear to have done well financially despite being one of the funniest satires of American consumer culture ever produced.

Idiocracy is so bold and so outrageous that it could potentially have alienated its own potential audience.  The target, throughout the film, could be considered stupid people, even people of “average” intelligence who live meaningless lives of convenience and just getting along.  This may have been too close to home for a large swath of American movie ticket purchasers.  Or perhaps the studio marketing gang didn’t like the message and simply failed to promote it? *