Monday, March 24, 2003

Post-modern Pooh, or the real reason Christopher Robin married his first cousin.

After the Perfect Snowstorm abated here in the Denver metro area, we, the family, more than a bit stir crazy after being stuck inside the house for four days, decided to see a movie. About the only thing showing that was appropriate for a six year old was the new Pooh, Piglet's Big Movie, so off we went, sliding and scraping through the drifts in the mommy-van. I don't think I'm giving away the ending by stating right up front that every attempt at a new Disney Pooh cartoon since the original has been an abysmal failure, each offering more pathetic than the last. That trend remains solidly hell-bent for new depths of woe, afterburners firing, possibly setting a new benchmark on suckatude for a series franchise.

Yet, before the lights dimmed, I had hope.

It starts with Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit and Eeyore helping in a plan to steal honey from some bees. Piglet wanders up and wants to help, but is either ignored or told he's too small to help. So right away we accomplish two things at once: 1) establish the Pooh characters as essentially cruel little bastards, which goes against everything established in the original Pooh, 2) we are in the PBS braindead zone where every cartoon is about some supposed REAL ISSUE small children have, and presented in a way completely contrary to how a real child who wasn't "challenged" would handle it. You could look across the faces of all the little kids in the theatre, and they'd be frowning with frustration at the stupidity and meanness of the characters, laced with slight doubt that anyone could really be this stupid, so there must be something else here they're missing.

Piglet actually saves the plan when it goes wrong, is yet again ignored or insulted, and so wanders off to contemplate being small and wanting to be needed (in other words, he begins nursing some major co-dependence issues that will doom him to dating nothing but emotionally damaged Pigletettes for the rest of his life). The rest of the crew finally notices Piglet is not around and takes his picture book where he records memories, thinking that if they follow the pictures in order, they will find Piglet. I don't have the energy to go into a rant about how farged up and ickily post-modern THAT is. And try to explain to a logical six year old why someone would think it's a good idea to follow pictures of past events to find someone lost now. By the way, they end up completely destroying this little scrapbook of Piglet's during a fight. In addition, they work in a shameless plug for the last Pooh movie where everyone dresses up like Tigger so he won't feel "left out" - Pooh does Identity Politics! ...grumble grumble grumble...

The rest of the movie is flashbacks based on Piglet's pictures. The first story is about how - and you might be tempted to think I'm exaggerating for effect here, but I'm not - Kanga and Roo first move into the Hundred Acre Wood and Rabbit decides they are evil and dangerous so he plots to kidnap Roo to convince Kanga to leave. Let's get back to REAL ISSUES small children have... one of them is being very afraid of being taken away from their parents, particularly being kidnapped by a mean stranger.

{Heavy sigh}

I began the mental preparation to answer my child's questions on that whole clusterfandango. At least it filled time while I was trying to ignore the screen.

In the midst of dealing with a plot seemingly contrived by Quentin Tarantino's autistic brother, a "sweet" Carly Simon song starts. I want to like it because I like her old stuff,! My God! I've heard lovey-dovey, church camp, stoner folk songs composed by earnest but tone-deaf kids who were further challenged by the unexpected harmonics created by the braces on their teeth who have stumbled upon better tunes. John Belushi smashing the guitar against the frat house wall wouldn't be enough to expunge those turgid notes from my ears. She even does that thing I do that prompted a voice instructor to suggest that I should perhaps find other ways to express myself musically in the middle of my second lesson: she hit some low note on the scale, and then swang upwards, hitting every sharp and flat along the way, voice cracking a couple times. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the recording producer had burst into flames at that moment. There are 7 new Carly Simon songs in this opus.

And it just gets worse and worse until Pooh and Piglet seemingly fall to their deaths in a massive waterfall while entombed in a rotten log. After a full minute of the remaining characters holding their heads down in what I presume was mourning, Rabbit lifts his head and says, "And I didn't get a chance to tell Piglet how I felt about him." !!! Who cares that they just fell to their freakin' DEATHS! It's all about Rabbit's FEELINGS!

At this point, my daughter turned to me and asked me if I was OK. I do suppose seeing my eyes bulging out that far while every vein in my neck and face were straining in full relief via the reflected light from the screen might have been alarming.

Of course Pooh and Piglet made it out of the log before it fell, but then another Carly Simon song starts, and we cut out of the cartoon to a music video of Carly herself, holding a guitar but not playing it as she sings. You can just smell the dismay of the children by this point, and we leave.

On the way back home, I ask my daughter what she thought of the movie and I quote, "I'm surprised they thought that was a good movie to put into theaters."

Bless her heart!

P.S. The real Christopher Robin really did marry his first cousin. I imagine that will be covered in the next Pooh movie: Christopher Robin Falls Down a Very Big Hole, directed by Woody Allen or Roman Polanski, no doubt.

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