Saturday, June 28, 2008

Boys at the Movies

So it's summertime, and that means Hollywood owes us some family fare. Blockbuster, kid-friendly, crowd-pleasing popcorn movies. I took the boys, sans Joeymom, to Kung Fu Panda a couple of weeks ago, and Wall-E today. 

I guess it's worth mentioning three summers ago, when Joey was between his first and second years of preschool, one of the few summer activities the school did was to host a movie event in the school auditorium. I forget the movie now, and while it was decidedly low-tech, it was a nice test to see if Joey could sit still and pay attention to something for more than a few minutes. Well, Joey being three and autistic, he failed miserably. It was dark. The movie didn't interest him. He and his brother ran wild throughout the non-crowded auditorium. We had to bail after only a few minutes. Joey has come a long way in dark, crowded settings.

So with that in mind, we ventured to Kung Fu Panda. I was a bit concerned with its PG rating. In the ads, Dreamworks' animation looked gorgeous, and it was. But the guys watch the dino documentaries, what with T-Rexes eating their bloody prey and all, so how bad could it be?

Well, Andy lasted about 10 minutes into Kung Fu Panda before crying. Great sobbing wails of 'That's scary.' So we came home. For the record, while there was really no violence at the point where Andy lost it, it was an intense scene of non-violent conflict. 

So with reviews read, a G rating in tow, and two boys excited to see it, we trekked off to Wall-E. Well, this time, Andy did much better. It was still 'scary', but he was able to cope by sitting on me. We lasted an hour. The impulse for leaving wasn't any great crying fit, it was a combination of Andy's periodic 'I wanna go home' and a movie, apart from the endearing title character, that was more or less unlikeable. 

This ain't your father's Pixar film. Like Ratatouille before it, Wall-E is a grown-up movie that's appropriate for children. Unlike immortal classics like the two Toy Story movies- with their themes of friendship, growing up, and staying true to one's self-  and Finding Nemo with its examination of disability, parenthood, and fear, Wall-E is a less-than-subtle dig against consumerism and current environmental practices. Oh goodie. However you feel about those issues, they do not lend themselves to a fun, entertaining film. I eagerly await the 2009 blockbuster from Pixar, 'Capital Punishment, Abortion, and Child Abuse'.

Yes, the company that branded everything imaginable with Cars characters just two years ago, has taken a stand against consumerism. Indeed.

The good news is that Joey liked the movie. He sat in his seat or bounced on it the whole time. Andy lasted longer than before. But unfortunately, I was not sorry to bail on Wall-E early. 

How does everyone else do at the movies?


Ang said...

Hey there, we're back from Wall-E also. My son, 8 y/o with autism, only lasted an hour as well. I found the movie cute for about 30 minutes... then too much social commentary for me, which of course, was totally lost on my son.

I DO want to mention a positive about this film - the lack of conversation for the first 30 to 40 minutes would be a great way to teach non-verbal communication! However, obviously, at the movie theater, we can't pause and turn to our children and ask "how to you think Wall-E is feeling right now?" Too bad, because that's really all this film is good for.

I haven't seen Kung-Fu Panda yet. My son really wants to go.... It just depends on the movie, how well he does.

Anyway - I enjoy your blog! Thanks!

Casdok said...

We dont do very well, but i keep trying!

Steve Higgins said...

I've heard a lot about the message in WALL-E. I haven't seen the movie to make a judgment. I gotta tell you, i love the rest of the movies so I hope they haven't gone arrogant.