Thursday, November 22, 2018

It’s a Rube Goldberg Christmas

Caught two kid’s Christmas movies this week. Oddly both had complex, multi stage mechanisms in them to perform simple tasks.  The reasons were somewhat different, however.

One of them was because it was Disney putting a hero’s journey story into another borrowed Victorian era fantasy setting.

The other was because it Doctor Seuss lived for that sort of thing.

I didn’t go see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms for the story or music.  I went because I knew Disney would create a visually amazing, mutli faceted fantasy world and I wanted to experience it on the big screen.  I was not disappointed.

I’m convinced Disney designs movies now with the idea they can build an entire theme park land around them.

The story is a basic and straight forward tale of a young woman on the hero’s journey, overcoming her self-doubt to save the day, and growing up some in the process.

The fact that she does it primarily through intellect and invention was a nice nod to the value of those items.

Nothing overly groundbreaking in story method or internal motivations here, but the characters were all likeable and relatable, meaning following them along the journey was easy and satisfying.  As expected, the imagery was insanely stunning, and completely worth the price of admission to see on the big screen.

I need to mention Misty Copeland was in it, as its the whole reason my ballerina daughter wanted to see it.

It's a beautiful looking take on a well-known tale with a few partially obvious twists to keep it from being completely predictable, and a few bits for those with mouse or clown phobias to give them the need for several therapy sessions.

In another return to a well-known tale, Illumination’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas premiered this week.

Both the previous Jim Carrey live action version and this outing realized that you can’t expand the classic children’s Christmas book to feature film length and have the main character be completely unlikable most of the time.  The Carrey version did it by making the Whovillians a bunch of jerks who were over focused on the commercial aspects of Christmas, which may have reduced the likability of that one as a whole.

This new take keeps the Whos as sweet, pure, and caring as they were in the book, with their main focus on the togetherness and giving aspects of the season.

The Grinch’s malice comes from a much briefer backstory, and his grouchiness focuses much more on chosen isolation.  He's also much more of a Disney World Character type villain than a Disney Movie Villain.  Those of you who frequent the parks know what I mean.

He’s given a stronger relationship with Max, as well as with Fred the chunky reindeer, to allow this main character to be more likable in the longer story form.

Cindy Lou Who is well over two this time around, and share’s the Grinch’s ability to create complex mechanisms laying a straight forward path for their bonding, and giving us another S.T.E.M. based hero, yay!

Overall it's a sweet and fun take on the classic book that look and feels like Doctor Seuss, with more than a hint of the humor from the folks who brought the world the Minions.

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