Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oh, you caught me monologuing again!

I'm not a big fan of cartoons. I'm especially happy that as the mother of boys, I will never be subjected to anything with the word "Princess" in the title. If it's pink, frothy, and spontaneously bursts into song, I'll have nothing to do with it.

The exception, however, is virtually anything churned out by Pixar Studios. Now, I know that Pixar, until recently, was computer-generated Disney, but the films are smart, visually impressive, and almost always feature the vocal talents of John Ratzenberger (aka Cliff Clavin from Cheers).

Cars is near Scripture in our home (according to Owen). Finding Nemo will also do in a pinch (there's something about Dude Crush the Sea Turtle that brings a smile to all of our faces). We also rented Wall-E, which is surprisingly subversive and dark for a cartoon. Owen left that film with a fondness for saying "Wall-EEEE" in a high-pitched voice. I left that film with a desire to buy a composter and a hybrid car. We haven't rented any of the "Toy Story" films because a friend of ours told us that the films were "too scary." We'll take her word for it.

Out of all the Pixar films, my favorite, by far, is The Incredibles. Owen has yet to see this film, and I'm convinced that it's not designed for him, anyway. Not only does the film feature superheroes and a flashy soundtrack, but it also features the bit of brilliance quoted below. As you read this, hear the lines of Lucius as read by the one and only Samuel L. Jackson ( in his inimitable fashion):

Lucius: Honey?
Honey: What?
Lucius: Where's my super suit?
Honey: What?
Lucius: Where - is - my - super - suit?
Honey: I, uh, put it away.
[helicopter explodes outside]
Lucius: *Where*?
Honey: *Why* do you *need* to know?
Lucius: I need it!
[Lucius rummages through another room in his condo]
Honey: Uh-uh! Don't you think about running off doing no derrin'-do. We've been planning this dinner for two months!
Lucius: The public is in danger!
Honey: My evening's in danger!
Lucius: You tell me where my suit is, woman! We are talking about the greater good!
Honey: 'Greater good?' I am your wife! I'm the greatest *good* you are ever gonna get!


I bring this up because I was listening to Owen talk to himself while driving home from the gym. Like the hapless villian on The Incredibles, Owen was monologuing his planned nefarious deeds. He's so pleased with the evil he's about to do (or at least, imagine himself doing), that he gives his entire plan away.

His Plan:

(Mumbling to himself). "I'm not going to take a nap. Mommy is going to put me in bed, and I'm going to get out of bed. Then, I'm going to go into Baby Joel's room and say, 'Boo' and make him cry. Then, I'm going to go downstairs and play, play, play with Mommy and I'm not going to take a nap!"

He's smiling to himself as he says this, hoping for a big reaction on my part, or at least a halfhearted, "You have to be nice to your brother." Generally, my reaction is no reaction, which doesn't bother him like you think it would. Just saying the words out loud is enough for him, because, in its own small way, it makes it real.

People attempt to gain power by making other people feel small. Owen is generally kind enough that he doesn't actually do anything; he just talks a good game.

But... in his mind, he is capable of doing dark, dark, things. Then, he will go downstairs and play with his Mommy.


Paul said...

I never bothered to see Toy Story or any of the other early Pixar films when they were released. I also generally have little interest in animated films. However, upon having children, I've since become a devoted Pixar fan.

To clarify, Pixar is *not* the same as digital Disney - or at least it wasn't until 2006 when Disney officially bought Pixar. Up until that point, Disney distributed the films that Pixar created, and Disney handled the merchandising end of things.

To me, this is a key distinction. Pixar films are fundamentally different than Disney films at almost every level. Their story lines are different. The way that they engage both adults and children is different. They don't condescend to children. And they don't attempt to push younger children into premature adolescence as Disney routinely does in both their films, television products, and new star-development programs.

I pray that the new relationship between Pixar and Disney does not destroy the independent mindset that created quotable, and eminently viewable movies like The Incredibles. I don't think it will though - not yet. I read an article a few weeks ago talking about how Disney as well as some industry 'experts' were pissed at Pixar because they didn't see how the upcoming movie, "Up" was going to have a merchandising angle. 'Who's going to buy an action figure of a grumpy old guy' was basically the complaint. John Lasseter's response was basically, 'we make movies that we think are good'. Translation - screw you guys who think that movies are nothing but merchandising opportunities.

I like that mindset. And I hope it continues. And I hope to continue to be pleasantly surprised by Pixar for many years to come!

Nancy Campbell said...

Thanks for the clarification. We're in complete agreement. It makes my heart hurt to see The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana sell sexuality to the wee ones.