I recently found myself in a conversation regarding the task of taking a child to the cinema. The person I was speaking to said they had found themselves arguing with their child over which film to watch – Shrek Forever After or Toy Story 3. Now this particular film goer knew he wanted to see Toy Story 3 because it was Pixar and he had heard nothing but great things, and he knew his kids would love it once they saw it. But the children wanted to see Shrek, because the Donkey is silly, Shrek looks funny and talking animals are hilarious. Needless to say tantrums were had, dummies were spat out and that very next afternoon the family went to see, you guessed it, Shrek Forever After. And then came the punch line to the story. Preceding the film were the trailers for Cats and Dogs and Marmaduke, and now the kids are pulling their hair out to see both of those.
Now I’m sure readers who take children to the cinema regularly will recognise the frustrations of this particular anecdote. Chris and I can go on until our tongues fall out about how Toy Story 3 trumps everything else this year, and how every live action talking animal effort is ultimately an excuse for a few cute sight gags, and I’m sure parents will already be aware of these facts, but at the end of the day they don’t make the decisions when it comes to which CG ‘toon the kids prefer most. Children don’t care if there are any film references or innuendos for mummy and daddy to enjoy, and why should they?
In a perfect world adults would win every argument and call the shots on which film they were all going to see, but instead I’m sure Saturday morning screenings are being filled each and every weekend by parents forced to endure another turgid offering from a Hollywood studio that knows when in doubt…throw in a fart gag.
All this got me thinking; what if we could be a little more prepared? What if we went into each film knowing what to expect, with an iPod or book in tow to pass the time away if the offering is particularly hard to stomach? At least if we know what’s coming we can psyche ourselves up a bit.
And so I present to you dear reader my whistle stop tour of a smattering of offerings currently on show in most multiplexes in the UK, and my expectations of those films. This time last year Casta La Vista may have dragged itself to see these films in all their glory and offer proper reviews, but the summer season is so busy, and the trailers make these films look so familiar, that I’m hopeful these expectations BASED SOLELY ON THE TRAILERS AND POSTERS AVAILABLE will be accurate enough.
CATS & DOGS 2: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE: Instant reaction here was “why are they making a sequel to a film that came out nearly ten years ago?” Surely the young audience for the first film will have grown up by now and be in that teenager-who’s-too-old-for-this-shit phase to want to see any follow up. Plus, the best thing about C&D 1 was Jeff Goldblum and I haven’t seen him in any trailers, so have to assume he isn’t in it. The trailer has a ridiculous gag of a dancing robot-squirrel, and cats getting dressed up cute AGAIN, so I don’t think there’ll be much in the way of adult humour, despite the espionage parody setup.
RECOMMENDATION: Screams AVOID to me. And if you haven’t got the balls to make the PUSSY GALORE pun work properly then why bother almost referencing it?
MARMADUKE: Owen Wilson clearly got this gig for two reasons; one he is the king of the West Coast Stoner routine and B he already did the dog themed film thing so well in Marley & Me last year why not just keep the trend alive? Oh and also it’s best to keep him in work in case he starts getting all depressed again! Marmaduke is an iconic figure to a certain generation – the comic strips and cartoons were popular for years. But those years have gone by now, and so the name Marmaduke will mean little to the youth of today, which means the title and character serves purely as a means of placating the parents. Much like Garfield, the adults will strap in and soon realise that they’ve been tricked into watching another generic cute animals flick.
RECOMMENDATION: Take some old Marmaduke strips into the screening with you to read whilst the film is on, because I guarantee the film will be nothing like them.
THE LAST AIRBENDER: I know what you’re thinking; M Night Shyamalan; big event movie; we should review this one properly right? Well, no. Casta La Vista has decided to make an executive decision and avoid this one entirely because neither of us has read a single good word about it and we can’t find the energy to try and prove otherwise. What happened to you M Night? Where did it all go wrong? Children might like the images from the trailer of the young hero, and a few may know the TV show it’s based on, but for the most part I bet they won’t.
RECOMMENDATION: Visually this one looks like it might get a bit dark so expect to do some hand holding for large parts of the film, and you’ll probably get tapped on the shoulder every five minutes to being asked what’s going on, what that means, and who that guy is. Is it really worth it just to say you’ve seen all of Shyamalan’s work?
TINKERBELL AND THE GREAT FAIRY RESCUE: First thought on this was that it’s a genuine surprise to see it getting a theatrical release as the title has Straight to DVD written all over it. There are no star names attached for the voices, visually it looks very basic, the premise doesn’t really seem overly complicated, and too be honest it looks more cute and cuddly that exciting and funny. Definitely one for the very young, and in that sense probably a film unlikely to have anything for adults to latch on to. Would be very surprised if it references the Peter Pan mythology much at all.
RECOMMENDATION: Could be painful. Under fives only for this one if you ask me – and probably only girls too. It will probably be the best film they’ll have ever seen ever ever and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to sit them in front of Peter Pan when you get home and show them where the magic really started.
THE DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: This one looks like it might be a lot of fun. Once you get past the clearly annoying kid performances there are a few recognisable faces playing teachers and parents and the jokes of growing up at school look as current for kids today as they look familiar for parents who probably went through the same sorts of things growing up. It’s a book adaptation too, so it should be fairly well put together. I’m thinking it’ll be like Holes from a few years ago; fun, clever and just cheesy enough.
RECOMMENDATION: Sit back and laugh along with the kids, you should all be fine with this one. If the kids don’t have them already you’ll be buying the books on the way home and reading them yourself before they can take them to bed!
THE KARATE KID (sorry Chris): You’re seriously telling me you think your kids can sit through a two hour twenty minute film without getting bored or distracted? Your funeral.
RECOMMENDATION: Wait for the DVD, at least you can pause it when they start to lose interest.
You have been warned. END RANT.