Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rated G for Juvenile?

Last week I went to see Despicable Me 2 with my family. I liked the first one and worried the sequel wouldn't live up to it. Well, it was okay. My main disappointment was Margo. In the first movie, she acts like a surrogate mother to Edith and Agnes. They've grown up in  an orphanage with no love from the woman in charge. She doesn't trust Gru and continues to protect them after the adoption. Eventually Gru shapes up and decides to be a father.
Bring on the sequel. With Gru as her dad, she has a chance to be a normal girl. A normal teenage girl. Though her age is never given, it's implied in the way she discovers texting and boys. She even abandons her sisters in the mall to go on a date with a boy she's known less than two minutes. Margo from the first movie would never do that. Her character just decayed. 
But hey, at least they don't pull the child in distress gambit like the first movie. The girls are quite capable of defending themselves, whether they're using nunchuks or jelly guns.
A few days later my dad found Hotel Transylvania on demand. My mom wandered into the living room just in time to watch the last ten minutes. She asked for a plot summary, so I told her,"It's like The Little Mermaid, but with vampires."
My dad laughed and said the description fit it perfectly. But the more I thought about it, it doesn't. The Little Mermaid is about Ariel falling in love with a human, going against her father's wishes, and leaving her safe sea haven.
Hotel Transylvania is about Dracula building a safe haven for Mavis, tricking her into staying inside, and trying to stop her from falling for a human.
Dracula is the protagonist. Not Mavis, his 118 year old daughter. I'm not going to complain about that. Giving the lead role to Mavis would be like making King Triton the main character of The Little Mermaid. It's not their movie.
But these are kids movies. Why does the lead role always go to an adult? Even Ariel is more of a woman than a girl. She's 16, yes, but apparently that's old enough to get married.
My dad says its to save the adults in the audience from boredom. They pay for the tickets, after all. Makes sense. But child doesn't mean juvenile. I know a woman who cried during the season finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's TV-Y7. Look at Phineas and Ferb, one of the only Disney Channel shows worth watching. The creators have even stated, "We make this cartoon for ourselves. We don't make it for the children; we just don't exclude them." Most of the clever jokes, pop cultural references, and wordplay will go over young viewer's heads, but they can still appreciate the songs and palatypus fights.
Age doesn't determine quality. You don't need to dumb it down, kids know how to enjoy a show. So long as it's a show worth watching.

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