Upfront I want full disclosure:
1. I was warned about the ‘stepmother’ factor
2. My 8 year old liked the movie.
So what is my problem? How about a movie, clearly for kids under 13 about a sinister self-absorbed (most obviously demented) adult figure who steals a baby for want of its ‘magic’ and then keeps it locked in a tower (read closet, basement, cave). Spread with a layer of telling the child for the next 18 YEARS that it’s for its protection, own good, that it’s SAFER to not go outside, and that Mommy knows best. Top that, with the word LOVE (used gratuitously throughout the first part of the film). Add more than a little ‘check your brain at the door’ effect (while I did note that it *was nice of the wicked stepmother to educate the heroine* – why, came to mind? – but that made it even more twisted) and there you have my utter disdain for the film company which made it. Not that they are alone. There is that other affiliated company which had me so blusteringly outraged after a movie about a balloon seller, that I could rant unsuspecting unseeing parents into a corner, desperately trying to verbally open their eyes to the manipulations they had experienced and had most obviously ignored.
Perhaps there needs to be a pill for this. Blue perhaps.
I don’t want to gloss over the endings either. The bad guy dies, badly (deservedly, no doubt?) rather than is redeemed in any way, or rehabilitated. Happy Endings? Sometimes. Other times bittersweet reality instead, like a child with no present father in his life getting a fatherly figure to look up to. A Thief who suddenly becomes honorable and a future prince? All for the parents, as what kid is untwisting the story to see the dishonor, the sorrow, the bleakness of reality therein contained?
Then there’s the tear-jerking. Those jerks. I don’t want to take my kids to movies where I have to cry through parts of them. I don’t want to have to explain or be exposed to: death, dying, kidnapping, bondage, torture, hanging, miscarriage, infertility, extreme illness or any other sort of dark side of the world to my under 10, when I go to see a a cute light animated movie. If it’s a super hero movie, then sure, go to it, bring on the war, guns, battle, etc. At least I know what to expect.
Oh sure, we don’t live in a bubble. My son is worldly. That’s not the point, I’m trying to get across. I’m trying to tell you I think it’s outrageous to make a kid’s animated picture with bunnies and flowers and then shove one or more of the dark things down my throat while I’m star gazing and singing along. Like vicious dogs hunting down a hurt bird, not being able to have children, stealing a child, threatening a hanging, attempted murder, having to go to an old age home as there’s no one to take care of you… Yes, I know about the Brothers Grimm. Yes, I like them. But that’s not the issue here. The Brothers Grimm didn’t make the bad stuff just noticeable by the parents while painting butterflies in the sky for the kids to ooooh about. I’m sure it’s just me that can’t take this barrage of negativity and darkness in a candy coating. Right?
I don’t mind crying if I’m happy. Really. I’m ok with crying when I’m sad, too. But I don’t want to go to a kid’s movie and expect to cry because they bully me into it. If that’s going to be it, then I don’t want to see these types of movies anymore. Thinly viewed as light entertainment for kids, they are heavy with issues, symbolism, twisted plotlines, really evil bad guys, crude humor all ready for the accompanying adults, because it’s obvious to me that the studios believe that adults couldn’t possibly enjoy a movie for kids which was actually for kids. I won’t even get started on the film I recently saw which was stellar up until near the end, when someone felt obliged to slam a certain theological belief down my throat. It was so over the top, I actually cringe recalling it. Is there really so little creativity left in these American studios that this is the best they can do? Is it really a result of a lack of vision? And what about us, the parents. Do we really not care to really see what’s in front of us? Are we so OK with the dark side of life that we can shrug it off, ignore it, gloss over, big picture it? Are we ducks? Turtles?
I don’t have to go to these films, I guess. But, like the pie you didn’t see coming, it’s hard to peg them before you get them in the face.
Maybe I’ll just go see animated superhero or war movies, at least I know what I’ll get. No sneaky pies.
And just for good measure go read the original story sometime. It’s a fairytale with a witch. The regular kind.