DON’T DEFEND IT #1 “KIDS’ MOVIES”

Sean Reiman

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SPOILER ALERT: This article includes some spoilers of The Incredibles & Sing

Hi, I’m Sean, and with so many new and interesting media being presented and consumed everyday by virtually everyone, I thought I’d offer my perspective on some of these pieces as someone who is usually seen as very critical of media (specifically movies). So let’s. Get. Started.

To start off this viewpoint of mine, I’m going to start with the one that probably annoys me the most. KIDS’ MOVIES. Holy crap, the amount of bad kids films out there is stunning, and what’s even worse is that they often win awards! Now, before I get into the examples of both good and bad kids’ movies (in my opinion, of course), I want to share what is the usual argument against people like me who dislike these kids’ movies and how I view these arguments.

The main thing that people always say is, “Well it’s a kid’s movie. It’s not supposed to be well-written.”

Honestly, whenever I hear this I don’t understand it at all and am personally insulted on behalf of people who put in effort and time into making their animated movies as intricate and detailed as possible. Movies, like any form of art, can be bad. When your biggest defense against criticism is “it was a fun movie,” you might want to change your wording from “it was actually good” to “I really liked it!”

There’s nothing wrong with liking something that others consider bad, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that what you’re watching is bad or that it has flaws. There are plenty of movies that I love that have plenty of flaws, but they’re entertaining and interesting. When your movie has NOTHING to offer other than childish jokes, you stop being entertained and instead just look for flaws. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine for kids to like these movies, but kids aren’t the people deciding the Academy Awards, are they?

There are, of course, plenty of movies that are amazing in both animation, style, plot, voice acting, and, yes, even writing. Not only are they well-written, but they showcase such amazing creativity. Some easy examples are, of course, many of Pixar’s earlier works like Wall-E, Monsters Incorporated, Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and, of course, (my personal favorite) The Incredibles. Not only do these movies show very good animation for the time, good voice-acting, and great plots, they also have something that I feel is missing from many kids’ movies today. Emotional. Weight. Now, considering it’s my favorite of the previously listed films (and the one I probably know best), I will be comparing The Incredibles to a movie that was released not too long ago called Sing (made by Illumination Animation).

It’s very likely that those reading this haven’t seen both (or either) of these movies, so I’ll briefly explain the plots of both. To quickly summarize, The Incredibles was a movie released in 2004 and features the story of the main protagonist, Bob “Mr. Incredible” Parr, as well as his family. In his prime, Bob was a very successful superhero who was featured and celebrated nationally for his work in rescuing and protecting the innocent civilians of his city. A sudden anti- superhero movement starts, which eventually leads to superheroes being forced to go into hiding, as the idea of “supers” is now illegal. Cut to twenty years later, and we see Bob now working as an accountant with a family. As we progress through the story, it is revealed that Bob has been offered a secret job by an unknown group to help them by using his super powers. As the story develops, we learn that a character briefly mentioned in the beginning segment of the movie has come back to wreak his revenge on the family as well as unleash havoc on the city. They stop him (obviously) and, in turn, remove the ban of superheroes across the country. The movie ends with a not-so-subtle indicator of a sequel which eventually came like fifteen years later. 

Now, I’m not here to say this movie is perfect, but it certainly did something that wasn’t really being done at the time, which was making a darker Pixar movie. It still is funny, but the premise is actually pretty dark when you experience it for yourself, and I respect the fact that they showed actual guns in the movie. It just made the movie more grounded and made it seem like it took the subject matter seriously, which is honestly something that every film needs. When I tell this to people, I’m often met with, “It’s not supposed to be serious, it’s a comedy” argument. To that I have to say, watch ANY intelligent comedy, and tell me that they aren’t taking the premise seriously to a certain degree. A quick example before moving on to Sing’s premise and summary is the movie Ghostbusters. It’s a very funny movie, and is certainly branded as a comedy, but not only are there some serious scenes, but all of the characters make jokes surrounding the other characters and their actions, not making fun of the ghost crisis. So yes, it is a comedy, but that doesn’t mean they should be lazy with writing. Comedy movies are a subject for another day maybe…

Anyway, in 2016, a kids movie was released to the world called Sing, and ohhhhhhhh boy was it not good at all. The plot can be summarized with these sentences. A mouse (all the characters are animals) decides to hold a singing competition, but has a printing mistake on the flyer that advertises it. By mistake, the flyer gets passed around anyway, and many of the characters see this and decide to join in on the fun. That’s literally the main plot of the movie. Yes, there are several other subplots in there that make no sense, and considering how lengthy this piece is already getting, I’ll leave it at just one. One of the characters is a gorilla who has a dad who is a bank robber, and the subplot is that the dad doesn’t want his son to sing but, oh! His son DOES want to sing. There are a couple more that I can’t remember off the top of my head, but trust me, some of the “character development” is so awful that it’s very obviously just filler to make it a feature length film.

Now, before we end this, what is it that makes The Incredibles good and Sing bad in my eyes? The biggest part of Sing (well, with the writing anyway) is that NONE of the characters are fleshed out at all. There’s just too many characters and too little talent and time put into making them actually interesting or even likeable. But wait, hold on, The Incredibles has quite a few characters, too, so why isn’t that a flaw there? The people responsible for creating The Incredibles knew not just how to write good characters, but they also knew how to create interesting and (in my opinion) realistic conflict between characters without being lazy (i.e. writing every conflicting character as just opposites). Every character in The Incredibles feels like an actual person you’re connecting with rather than just a human (or animalistic) plot point to move the story forward.

Wow, this was a lot longer than I thought it would turn out, but when it comes to movies, I have a lot to say. Hopefully those who read this can understand that this is just my opinion and you are, of course, entitled to your own, and I respect that, and I would appreciate if you returned the gesture. Thanks for reading! Depending on how this does I might make the “Stop Defending It” a sort of rant series or something. If you have any questions, counter-points, suggestions, or differing opinions, be sure to leave a comment below. Hope you enjoyed, and have a wonderful day everybody.