I always thought of blogs as being narcissistic, business related, or as my sister's, a way of keeping in touch or memorializing.

But, by necessity, I am learning a lot about myself. I find I need to get my thoughts out, and it helps me to know that someone else will read them. So I have created this little space for myself, to express the things I have trouble saying (be it emotional or physical trouble), to share what I'm going through, and what I'm learning through it.

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Sunday, 10 July 2011

Cars 2 - Big Rant

Warning: Ranting and spoilers below! 
If you are seeking peaceful thoughts and insight, stop here. Really. I'm pretty pissed, and I'm letting it out here so I don't have to hold it in with my son around. Also, if you don't want to know about what happens in Cars 2, don't read on.

First off, the movie theater is in a mall. Malls are not so good for me. Between the lights, the people, the noise, and everything that is painstakingly designed to attract your attention so you'll buy it, malls are like my own personal hell.

Secondly, seriously people, it's a movie theater, not a nightclub. Why the flashing lights and loud music? If I wanted flashing lights and loud music, I'd be down at the... oh wait... I don't even know what nightclubs exist anymore... because I don't go to nightclubs anymore! And I don't think I would, even if I wasn't sick. But apparently, now all one needs to do to get their fix of crazy dizzying lights, huge excitable crowds (although it wasn't so bad at the time we went) and really bad deafening music, one need only go so far as the nearest neighbourhood movie theater.

So on to the movie. We love Cars. My whole family does. My parents, my son, my nephews - even my niece tolerates it. It's a great family movie. My son does not often want to go to the movies, so my mom and I were really excited to go with him. Thank goodness I had a bit of warning when his friend's Mom told me this afternoon that it didn't feel like a children's movie to her, and that it is very different from the first one. Boy was she right.

What exactly does Cars 2 have to do with Cars? Not much. There is some continuation of characters. And that's about it. The rest is more like Mission Impossible or the Bourne movies, or any James Bond movie than any children's movie I have ever seen in my life - and I've seen plenty.

As my son said, it's really weird how they open the movie in the middle of the ocean with cars we don't know. The opening reminded me of the Bourne Identity: close-ups of crashing waves in the middle of the ocean on a dark night, the camera tight into the water so you can almost feel the motion, especially in 3D. And then as it went on, it was just like the beginning of every James Bond movie where the spy we are not familiar with makes a major discovery and is promptly killed by the bad guys in a deliberate and torturous way. That's right. In the first scenes of the movie, a spy car is killed by bad cars. Not only killed, but ambushed and then crushed - his shell put on display for all to see. WHAT?!?!?!?!?!  WHY?!?!?!?!?!?
Why make a children's movie about cars trying to kill each other in order to rule the world? Especially when the first one was such a warm fuzzy kind of movie about the value of friendship and finding one's place in the world?

The original movie was a children's movie with a few things thrown in here and there for the accompanying adults. This one - it's a spy / action / thriller disguised as a cartoon. Barely. The animation is beyond fantastic - it is scrumptious in its detail and realism. The filming is tight, the editing fast, and the explosions unreal. Yes, explosions. Plural. As in far too many. If I'd gone as a 20-some year old, I would have loved it. But I didn't. I went as a Mom.

My 8 year old boy enjoyed himself. And then had a really hard time calming himself down when we left the theater. When he regained control over his little self, he called my sister to warn her - yes, warn her - not to take my 5 and 3 year old nephews. Why? Because he thinks they will be scared when the protagonist is almost killed. On purpose. By the bad guys who not only chase him down, beat up another car and try to shoot him with machine guns and other such toys, but then tie him up and hang him inside the Big Ben to force him to watch as they blow up his best friend with an electromagnetic ray and crush his colleagues in the clock mechanism. And of course, by planting a bomb in his engine, which is counting down to the seconds...

I say again: SERIOUSLY? Did nobody read or see this before deciding it was appropriate for young ones?

Perspective: my favourite movies ever are Apocalypse Now! and the Godfathers I and II. I am not opposed to violence onscreen. For adults. When there's a good reason for it being there. When it is necessary for the plot or character development and furthers the purpose of the film. Or when it's a more innocent type of violence - unintentional and amusing, or mutual and not really real, like most tv cartoons. But this was too real, and too intentional, and completely unnecessary. In fact, the whole movie would have been way better if they'd stuck to the racing and left the entire spy thing out.

The spy plot is too complicated for most children - and probably a few adults - to work out. The bad guys are trying to get back at the world for making fun of them by controlling the world's supply of gasoline. In order to discredit alternative fuels, they are blowing up cars in a race sponsored by and only using a completely organic and sustainable fuel using an electromagnetic ray that overheats a version of said fuel that has been modified at the molecular level. The bad guys are Italian mob families and Detroit wise guys led by a Eastern European doctor with a monocle. But the real leader remains a mystery. The only stereotype they left out is the Middle Eastern oil magnates and their lackies. I swear. So we've got world economics, environmentalism, technology, bullying victims becoming violent aggressors, evil scientists, and mob mentality. Seriously. I don't know any child who would actually get that.

At first I thought they were going for a nice environmental message, but no. Without spoiling it, the whole build up about bio-fuels versus fossil fuels turns out to be a big red herring and a major let-down for those of us who actually care even the tiniest bit. It seems that the writers think that the bad guys not caring about the environment is enough of a message on that end of things. Yup. They don't like bio-fuel, but they like blowing people up, so bio-fuel must be good!

Whatever happened to Hollywood's assertion that after 9/11 they would stop producing films that portrayed terrorism and such abject violence? Now they're marketing the very same thing to children.

I would not take my son to see the Bourne, James Bond or Mission Impossible movies. I wouldn't even take him to see Transformers, and he loves the cartoons on TV (sidenote: there is a difference in how we react, physiologically as well as emotionally and psychologically, to things when they are small and flat and when they are larger than life and jumping out at us at full volume). If I had known that this is the type of movie Cars 2 is, I would not have taken him to see it either. Now it's done, the cat's out of the bag, and he is going to want to see it again - I know it. And I know that I will have to let it be.



  1. Update: My son couldn't get to sleep last night. Felt like he was going to be attacked. Again I says GRRRRRR!

  2. Due to technical difficulties, my dad couldn't post, but he says:

    I double and triple your GGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR