Friday, October 31, 2008

A jolly good time

It was movie night in our household as we were all too full of cold to venture out for Halloween fun and frolics. So we dimmed the lights, lit the fire and jack'o'lanterns, dressed up in our costumes and ate hotdogs, popcorn and toasted marshmallows while watching DVDs.

The first was Monster House, which was suitably scary for such a night, considering the age range. It may even have been a bit much, but we did enjoy it. S was hiding behind me some of the time 'tho, so we will see if we have nightmares and I regret the whole thing after all. She's quite a sensitive soul and we've had to abandon Dr Who watching, so perhaps an elderly neighbour appearing to die in a child's arms and a monstrous house that eats people was pushing it. I'm hoping the animated nature of it will prevent her taking it too seriously and me laughing inappropriately at the scariest bits will have helped. T was too stuffed up with cold to be scared.

Our second choice was Bee Movie and what a pile of excrement that was. The humour in the film was just too adult: while some animated films add in subtle layering of adult & children's jokes, there wasn't enough for children in this and the adult jokes dominated uncomfortably. The film clearly didn't know its audience or was trying too hard to cover too wide a range. The pop-culture references would pass most children by, although I did enjoy Ray Liotta's appearance. But the self-referential can get a tad wearing.

Like Antz and A Bug's Life, there was a whole lot of gender reassignment going on, bearing in mind one of the major features of sodding honeybees is that the females are the workers. But we couldn't have a kid's movie with any kind of accuracy regarding the natural world, could we*? And we certainly couldn't have a female protagonist. It's a bit like those ads with a cow character that clearly has massive udders but speaks with a male voice. What's that all about, eh?

But no, here we have all the pilot-type nectar-gathering bees as macho macho male ones! What ticked me off most about this was the scene with the two female fan bees fawning over them after they came in to land. Whaaaaaaat? Not only are the female bees removed from the frame and their real-life role in a beehive erased, but they are imported back in as groupies!

And the fact that female mosquitoes apparently trade up for moths, according to the Chris Rock voiced character just makes me grimace. I mean, what is this saying to my daughter?

Obviously an animated film about bees is going to anthromorphise radically, otherwise it'd be a bit grim, lacking in adventure and difficult to get to know, like or even tell apart the characters, but surely to push all female bees out of the story is going a bit far!?

I gather from the credits that it was written by four men, one of the them Jerry Seinfeld, who also voices the main character. So well done to them.**

I quite like A Bug's Life - it got away with some of the things Bee Movie doesn't, because the female is represented and not just as hangers-on or cheerleaders; the Queen and Princess actually exist, serve a purpose in the tale and have actual power & even things to say for themselves, while the plot itself is clearly a reworking of a classic film, made for children. Bee Movie neither has the charm of Bug's Life nor a decent stolen plot. The plot of Bee Movie is a bit of a hotch-potch: a cross-species love story, a trial of little bug against huge corporation and rites of passage blending imperfectly. I'm not altogether happy with the end moral which appears to be "better keep your mouth shut and stick with the status quo" as [spoiler in background colour] winning the trial ends up nearly killing the planet.

Ooh, I'm in a ranty mood of late. Anyway, apart from me loathing a Bee Movie, it was a lovely evening with the children and I only set fire to one marshmallow.

edited to add: Oh and another thing about Bee Movie [spoilers again]: the bit where the friend bee loses its temper and stings the opposing counsel? The provocation is that the lawyer exposes the fact that all the bees in the hive have the same mother: the Queen (unseen), and that somehow this makes them all illegitimate. Eh? I mean, eh to the logic of that, and eh at the resuscitation of the "bastard" stigma. So funny, hahaha, so funny. **

* Like we get sodding raccoons in one of the Dalmation films despite it being set in the UK. And despite having perfectly decent, cute wildlife of our own that could have performed the same function, like squirrels, say.

**That was sarcasm. I didn't really mean it, you see, I'm tricksy like that.


Anonymous said...

Oh no, all the gender politics passed me by, I'm such a shit feminist!!! :( It's true, Bee Movie had loads of adult jokes. I must admit I know naaaathing about real life bees and who does what. I guess the queen bee is a female, apart from that I've got no clue. There was one joke I remember in Bee Movie, I think when the main bee signs a waiver before flying out and I remember trying to explain the joke to the kiddies and realising I'd bitten off way more than I could chew. I generally hate kids films that are aimed at adults..... but that one didn't bother me too much cos I suppose I liked Jerry Seinfeld. I'm going to sit in the corner and think about what I've done. And wear a critical eye next time I watch a kid's film. Abster x

Mephitis said...

Hehehe. Sorry!