Coraline’s out in cinemas this week, and it’s got us thinking.
What the hell do kids know? They’re snotty, sticky, short and lack an attention span.
They can’t even appreciate a good pun. As for double entendres, they’ve got no idea.
Hit them with a brilliant pop culture reference and all you’ll get back is a blank face, which will probably precede tears.
With some of the best filmmakers in the world working on family fare, it’s no wonder that kids movies are wasted on kids. Read on as we make our case.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
The Film: When Roger Rabbit is accused of murder, toon-phobic PI Eddie Valiant is his only shot at proving his innocence in this revolutionary mix of film/cell animation.
Why Kids Love It: Goofy laughs, frenetic action, big scares, general silliness. Oh, and babies with cigars. It’s also got Mario from Super Mario Brothers. What’s not to like?
Why It’s Wasted On Kids: The film is modelled closely after Chinatown, which explains the dark themes on display.
We’re going to take a deep breath for this one, there’s a lot of darkness to get through here.
Aggressive capitalism. The loss of innocence. The death of imagination. Slavery. Segregation. Racism. Unionisation. Organised crime. Apathy. Corruption. A touch of alcohol-assisted suicide. Not to mention bestiality. All themes touched on by Roger and his wacky mates.
Best Bit for Adults: Two lip-trembling words; Jessica. Rabbit.
A Nightmare Before Christmas
The Film: Jack Skellington, Pumpkin-king of Halloweentown, has grown tired of the same old Halloween every year, and decides to try his hand at Christmas instead.
Why Kids Love It: Infectious songs. Visual gags. Ghosts, ghouls and skeletons. Shrunken heads. Snakes, bugs and all things creepy. Plus it’s really short (76mins). Did we mention the songs? Kids just love to sing-a-long.
Why It’s Wasted On Kids: It’s about a mid-life crisis! That’s the problem with little ones – no life experience. TNBC deals with themes of unrequited love, unfulfilled lives and unexplored dreams. Witty dialogue. Wittier lyrics. Children have never even heard of Oingo Boingo. Kids, man.
Best Bit for Adults: Jack’s constant, innocent mispronouncing of ‘Sandy Claws’.
The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
The Film: Spongebob and Patrick must go on a quest to retrieve Neptune’s crown and rescue Bikini Bottom from the clutches of the evil Plankton.
Why Kids Love It: The hero is basically a child, so they relate. Zany humour. Colorful characters. Simple plots. Hilarious voices. Plus Patrick is really stupid, like kids!
Why it’s Wasted On Kids: The homoerotic undertones! Cross-dressing starfish. Undeniably camp characters getting drunk and hitting on women. Near-gratuitous nudity. Layer upon layer of hidden sexual reference. Architecture that resembles genitalia!
No wonder the Church and US Senate accused the film of being Pro-Gay propaganda. No sense of humour that lot. Wasted on kids and the Conservative Right alike.
Best Bit for Adults: The Hoff™. And the fact that Spongebob has a pet snail named Gary gets us every time.
Wall·E/Ratatouille/The Incredibles/Toy Story/Toy Story 2 etc.
The Film: It’s hard to pick just one Pixar entry, so lets look at the lot.
Why Kids Love It: Kid-friendly characters; Toys/Bugs/Monsters/Superheroes/Rats/Robots. Lots of visual humour. Relatively simple plots. Great voice acting.
Why It’s Wasted On Kids: They’re all about adult issues! Toy Story? Growing Old. Monsters Inc? Life in blue-collar industry. The Incredibles? Mid-life crisis. Ratatouille? Overcoming prejudice. Wall·E? The power of love to conquer all. The sheer amount of in-jokes, movie references and witty gags are just lost on kids.
Best Bit for Adults: In Toy Story 2 when Buzz finds out Emperor Zurg is his Dad. Priceless.
Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
The Film: Wallace and Gromit set out to find who’s responsible for the sabotage of local gardens ahead of the annual giant vegetable growing contest.
Why Kids Love It: Kids love Gromit. The way he keeps Wallace out of trouble. Fast paced action. Simple plot. Gromit. Kids are easily amused.
Why It’s Wasted On Kids: The constant barrage of blink-and-you’ll miss sight gags. When Wallace covers his modesty with a tin emblazoned with the words ‘May Contain Nuts’. It’s genius. Verbal puns (“Welcome to my secret garden” “What’s up, Dog?”). Cinematic references. Literary allusions. Watch it when the kids are asleep.
Best Bit for Adults: It’s hard to choose just one, so here’s loads. Ay-Up Magazine (Instead of Hello) and the bookshelf of cheese-referencing books ("Brie Encounter", "Swiss Cheese Family Robinson", "East of Edam", "Grated Expectations” et al) are office favourites.
The Film: In order to get his swamp back from the scheming Lord Farquaad, ogre Shrek must journey with an annoying donkey to rescue Princess Fiona.
Why Kids Love It: Donkey. And Shrek. Mostly Donkey though, he’s just hilarious! Plenty of laughs and sight gags to keep the poppets amused. They’ll be quoting this forever.
Why It’s Wasted On Kids: It’s a thinly veiled attack on Disney. Only an adult raised on a steady diet of Disney classics, will get the real jokes here. Lord Farquaad is a caricature of Disney boss Michael Eisner for starters.
Shrek wipes his bum with a page torn from a classic fairytale. A reference to Lord Farquaad’s perfect kingdom, a sterile, boring place, obviously alludes to a certain chain of theme parks. Disney-parodying songs. Disney-baiting dialogue. No Disney classic is left untouched. Snow White. Dumbo. Beauty and The Beast. It’s merciless!
Best Bit for Adults: Princess Fiona’s Matrix-style bullet-time leap.
By Dan Goodswen
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