Children's Cinema Offerings


This may be too late for some of you, but I post in hopes of alerting the rest as to the relative merits of three children's films I've had the duty to sit through this season:

(1) The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause--A mild entertainment--neither offensive nor particularly compelling. Whatever message is here is so coded and buried by all the fluff that surrounds it that it will at worst do no harm and at best encourage some form of family solidarity. The worst part of this is that family solidarity, as good as it is, is not the central message of the Christmas story.

(2) Happy Feet: The one with the greatest potential for damage. Another of George Miller's nearly endless and endlessly preachy films. It seems that after Babe, Miller got up on his hobby horse and has been riding it into the ground ever since. Ostensibly the tale of the Penguin who is not gifted as other penguins are, the main messages of this film are dissent, disagreement, and headstrongness. Most children won't see it, but it is a two hour long polemic on preserving the fish for the starving penguin populations of Antarctica. In addition, it has some fairly strong anti-parental and anti-religious elements. Again, very young children won't catch on, but Samuel came out of the theatre lecturing us on the need to preserve fish populations for other animals. And while it is good to have one's consciousness of these things elevated, it does make for preachiness and polemic that are hardly worth the spectacle of dancing penguins, particularly when compared with . . . singing slugs.

(3) Flushed Away: The film that most amused me and featured the inspired talents of singing slugs and a city of sewer rats. A straightforward adventure film/love story with, as I said, singing slugs, some "adult" humor a la "Rocky and Bullwinkle" and a tight and clever plot line. One example of "adult humor--" La Frog is summoned by his British cousin Big Frog to help capture the heroes and play out his evil plot to drown sewer world and populate it with his voracious tadpoles. The French ninja-frogs show up and La Frog tells them, "Time for action, men." At which the dozen or so frogs raise their arms and say "I surrender." "Not that action!" (My sincere apologies to any French readers I may have.) There are other moments as well, but overall, it is fast paced, with amusing interludes featuring fleeing slugs, singing slugs, flying slugs, and yes, dancing slugs. Overall, it seemed pretty message free and a lot of fun. Recommended.

The other two films I can't really recommend because I was bored by the preachiness of Happy Feet and simply bored by The Santa Clause 3, neither charming nor inventive. But the latter has no discernible harmful message and the former has a strong but relatively coded anti-religious message that will be missed by pre-teens, and perhaps by some adults.

Now on the kid scale--Sam loved all three. I don't know which one he liked best because best usually means most recent. So your pre-teen child is likely to enjoy all three.

Oh, how I long to see a film made for adults!

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 25, 2006 8:45 AM.

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