Reflections on motherhood...


Monday, April 28, 2014

Milkbaby's movie meanderings: Rio 2 and Lego

With the school holidays in full swing, there's a plethora of children's movies to choose from.  Sadly, the release of Ernest and Celestine, the movie we've most been looking forward to, has been delayed in New Zealand, and won't come out until July.  Boo.

Last week we saw Rio 2, and Lego.  I managed a short interview with Milkbaby on each.  Mama rant follows.

Rio 2  [Was there a Rio 1?  It seems to have passed us by.]

Plot synopsis: It's a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids in Rio 2, after they decide to leave Rio for the wilds of the Amazon rainforest.  As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets the most fearsome adversary of all - his father-in-law.

What did you think of Rio?
I think the bird. The bad bird.

What happened in it?  What was the story?  What did the birds all do?
Ah, hide away. Some birds hid and some birds said "breakfast time!!".

Who was your favourite character
Ah, Rio.  Your favourite bird?  Rio.  Rio, the kind of character.  The blue bird.
You mean Blue?  Yeah, Blue.

What actually happened in the movie?
Um.  The birds went in their nest.

Did they have fun?

Who else was in the movie?
There was an elephant. With a different trunk. He had a long long nose and a long long tongue.  I think that was an ant-eater.  No. In Rio, the elephant. [looks at me like, duh!]  And there was a frog.  It was pink and black.

Were there any bad guys?
Yep, batman.  In Rio? Yep. [Milkbaby's brain: where movie worlds collide, with Batman from Lego starring in Rio 2]

Ok now talk to me about Lego.
I like Batman.

What about him?
I like his batcape.

What happened in the movie?
Um.  The batman flying thing, the batman came.

What was your favourite part?
I don't want to talk about this any more.  You play trains with me?

Mama rant
Before we go on, here's the plot synopsis for Lego:
Emmet is an ordinary, rule-abiding, perfectly average Lego minifigure who is mistakenly identified as having the extraordinary ability to save the world.  He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.
With these three films (Sherman and Mr Peabody included), I've identified a bit of a trend.  The male leads must overcome their character flaws (fear, domestication and sheer stupidity respectively) to save the universe/Amazon rainforest/Lego universe.  In their pursuits, they are accompanied by a female character, who invariably is smarter, more well adjusted and sassier than they are.  Yet it is the 'man' of the story who gets all the glory and ultimately saves the day.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - what are we teaching our children?  When are we going to see some children's films that have a strong female lead?  Frozen does not count (yes the female lead was smart, independent and her only character flaw was to be a bit too trusting - but she was a princess).  I have high hopes for Ernest and Celestine.

Back to the movies at hand.  Rio is perfectly watchable for a kids movie.  It's fairly light on the adult gags, but the sub-plot starring Nigel - a cockatoo with a personality disorder and a penchant for Shakespeare and revenge (voiced by NZ's very own Jemaine Clement) is enough to keep you interested.

Lego.  I had high expectations for this film, after it got five stars and had reviews which described it as "dancing on the brink of a cinematic revolution".  It's dancing on something alright, but my guess is that something is more like LSD than cinematic revolution.  If you want to find out if your child suffers from strobe-light-induced epilepsy, this is the film to take them to.  The graphics are FULL ON, both in terms of colours, fast cuts, flashing lights and OTT sounds.  I was actually relieved to have an excuse to leave the movies to change The Sailor and take him for a bit of a walk, even if it meant we had to encounter someone molesting the life-size Spiderman cardboard figure (not joking).

And if you want an earworm that will last at least a month, this is the film to see.  The soundtrack features a song called "Everything is Awesome".  Expect it to be selected by the Internet Party for their campaign song (their slogan is "This is going to be awesome").

That said, the film is packed with irony, adult gags and references and has a complex story line that cleverly mixes fantasy and reality.

Rio 2: ** (only if you need an excuse to leave the house and your toddler is driving you bonkers)
Lego: **** (but don't say I didn't warn you about the strobe effects)

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