Monday, April 12, 2010

Two Movies- Wild Things and A Frog

I've recently seen two movies- Where the Wild Things Are, and The Princess and the Frog- and I feel compelled to say something about them..

The Princess and The Frog

I saw this movie with my girls, and I loved it. The more I've thought about it, the more I have loved it. I've got problems with it (yup, that's me, the trouble-maker), but they aren't huge and overwhelming... More pesky and troublesome than enormous.

I loved the characters and the world they set the story in... Right after the war in jazz-era New Orleans... Tiana is not your typical Disney princess. She's a hard-worker who wants to make her dreams come true by doing what it takes- working two jobs and saving. She's likable and you root for her to win. You want her to have her dream- a restaurant- and to have love, too.

I enjoyed the story, the music, the Cajun fireflies, the frog hunters, the trumpet-blowing 'gator. I wasn't sure about Prince Naveen- as nice as he is, he's a bit of a lay-about- however, I was pleased to see how he changed through the course of the movie. And yup, I also LOVE the fact that Tiana is black, beautiful, and a hard worker. We needed an African-American princess. I'm pleased to see that finally happening.

I hated the 'Shadow Man' and his 'friends from the other side'. I've now had a couple of conversations with my girls about those 'friends' and I'd rather not have to continue with those... It was hard enough to talk about 'bad people' with them, and how you can't tell if someone is bad just by looking at them. They couldn't sleep for a week after those talks. Now they are scared of something more intangible. And the truth is that evil is real. And the character they presented was evil- not funny. Which is good, (I haven't let them see Hercules yet 'cuz the good guy is not too bright, and the bad guy is hysterically funny- bad move to lift up the bad and put down the good...); however, I've got a 6 year old and a 4 year old. I'd really rather not have demon conversations yet. Soon, I know...

The most confusing part was the character of 'Mama Odie'. She was a voodoo practitioner, just like the shadow man... However, she is presented as not evil. (She'd be the fairy godmother in a different version of this fairy-tale.) I'm not sure if I think the grey area was a good idea; however, I don't think this will be an issue with them for a while. And we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
I'm sure there are people questioning their use of New Orleans in light of recent events. As someone not from there, I want to say I thought it was cool to see some of what it was... A place with unique cuisine, music and culture. Maybe the movie isn't accurate, but it makes you want to know more, and it keeps the past alive.

Where The Wild Things Are
First thing, Wild Things was BEAUTIFUL- staggeringly so. They created this amazing world, and I believed it. I fell in and followed Max's adventures. I loved the art and the appearance of the monsters. It was exactly right. I was delighted to see Maurice Sendak in the credits and hope that he was pleased to see his book come to life so clearly.

But the story- oh, it was painful... I related to the chaos of Max's world, perhaps too much. I remember when my life felt completely out of control. I remember when I felt alone and friendless. I remember when my imagination was more real than the world around me...
I just can't look at this movie very lightly or casually because of those memories.

If you haven't watched it- the sum up is that Max is dealing with the divorce of his parents, and he's not handling it well... Anger, and loneliness... In the middle of the night, after an altercation with his mom, he runs away. He escapes on a boat to the island of the wild things. He tells them he is a king and they accept him, and they play together- the wild rumpus! But then they expect him to make all their problems disappear. And their problems are way too big for a little boy to clear up- just like his own problems. So he ends up leaving them, and going home. There's no answer at the end... no peace... just a mom thankful to hold him and watch him eating.

Maybe that's good enough for some of the audience. That he goes home and faces his problems- that he realizes he needs his family- that we, the audience, relate to how overwhelming his situation was, and recognize our own loneliness and anger. It just wasn't enough for me.

My problem with the movie was the sheer chaos and the wildness of it... The fact that there was no answer... Maybe there shouldn't have been. The problem itself is huge... I don't know how to explain this clearly.
I relate to the wildness and chaos, and the overwhelming nature of his loneliness. I know it. I have been there, and I remember how it felt to live on the edge of chaos and darkness.

What's different for me is this- God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit inside me.... I felt like I was watching a movie that said the only hope we have on this ocean of life is to cling to each other on a tiny little life raft. I wanted to say, "It's not true! There is more! Jesus is God with us, inside us... He is peace amidst a chaotic and painful world. He is the calm in the storm. He is the answer."

1 comment:

2 Raven Chicks said...

I definitely want to see Where the Wild Things Are! I loved that story as a youngster and have always been drawn to the artwork!

My girls are older, but I might have to rent the Princess and the Frog.