Movie going has turned into somewhat of a challenge in recent years for me. The lack of quality movies began this decline in my cinema experience. After I became a Christian, it got worse. A lot worse. Alas, with the onset of the computer generated animation age, I thought my problem had been solved. Among my all-time favorite movies you'll find animated classics like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, And Monsters, Inc. Finally, films that were just fun, well-made, and told a good story.
Those days appear to be over. After Brother Bear, Over the Hedge, and Open Season, I'd just about had enough. The final nail in the coffin came with our family outing to see Happy Feet last night.
For those who haven't seen it, let me warn you, it goes on about an hour longer than it should. I could pretty much point out the moment that the original writer probably intended the movie to end. Then, the addition was made. Someone in Hollywood realized they'd left out The Message.
What's The Message?
Oh, it's been fairly consistent since the making of Bambi, but until recently, it didn't appear in every stinkin' movie. The Message is: Animals and Nature Good, People Evil Evil Evil.
In Happy Feet, the Evil Evil Evil humans are taking all the fish out of the Antarctica. This was news to me. Our hero, Mumble the dancing penguin, follows the fishing ships (not boats, ships) back to Human World. He is picked up, tossed in a zoo, and stared at by the uncaring humans while his family starves back in Emperor Penguin Land. Keep in mind, up until this point, the movie was good. Fantastic animation, funny. Welllll....there was the usual poking fun at religion (yes, by penguins), but I let that slide.
And how does our hero, Mumble the dancing penguin, convince the humans of his plight? He dances, of course. Somehow, by tap dancing to Stevie Wonder, he communicates to the United Nations that his flock is starving (you'll notice no one felt sorry for the leopard seal and killer whales who were denied their penguin snack). So Mumble is released back to his flock with a tracking device attached to his back. He convinces all of his brethren to dance for the humans who follow him, and the world is saved!
If I'd written that, my crit partners would have sent me a big fat "Try again bonehead!" on my manuscript. But, since there's an important Message for all of us Evil Evil Evil humans, it was given a pass.
And would someone please explain the Robin Williams character to me? As far as I could tell, he was put there to poke fun at religious extremists (you know, people who believe in Jesus and the bible). But that feat had been accomplished by the Emperor Penguin leaders, who stubbornly held on to the old dried up ways. The old dried up ways involving faith, of course, instead of tap dancing.
Happy Feet was supposed to be, originally I'm sure, a story about a penguin who stayed true to his heart, though it caused him much social grief, and won the love of his life. Unfortunately, the ever wise ones in Hollywood decides us Red State, bible thumping, SUV driving dolts needed a life lesson.
A famous Hollywood producer from the golden era once said, "If you want to send a message, use Western Union." Apparently, his advice has been forgotten. We want to be entertained, Hollywood, not indoctrinated.
It's a good thing I can write my own stories. At least I won't have to de-program my kids after they read them.