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The Kids Are Not Alright


It Takes A Bunch Of Decades Old Puppets To Restore Faith In Cinema For Children.

My otherwise beautifully healthy daughter has a minor eye condition that precludes her from being able to see 3D movies. The fact that I loathe the format has made me wonder if even if she didn’t have this condition, I would in fact possibly tell her that she did so she wouldn’t develop a taste for this cinematic abomination. Happy Feet 2 in 2D was one of the most horrendous movies I have ever sat through. Stupid, exploitative, irritating cinema of the worse kind. In 3D, I shudder to think. This is the sort of crap served up by studios who know that parents, particularly in a climate such as ours, which favours raining many days but especially Saturdays, will possibly sit through any claptrap in a darkened auditorium to provide some amusement for kids. The problem is, many parents would and the fact is that it's one of the most difficult genres to make decent movies for. The other problem is that kids are an exceptionally perceptive audience and know when what they’re looking at is charmless garbage. I’m writing about this genre because I’m out of touch with almost every other genre at present. I used to be the guy who was in the cinema 3-4 days a week where possible, sometimes more. Now, it’s a couple of times a month.
But I digress. In the last year, since I decided my daughter at 3 year was old enough to go the cinema, the amount of crap that has been served up does not make me feel that it has been money or time well spent on man. Not when you have to sit through stuff like Sammy: A Turtles Tale or The Smurfs, or Cars 2, or Happy F****** Feet 2 or plenty of others. In fact only Disney’s Tangled left me with any sort of entertainment. The thing is, my daughter agrees. She actually walked out of A Turtles Tale, fell asleep during the Smurfs and asked many times when Happy Feet 2 was going to end. I should have left that one too. I hope she will not hate me for it in later life….
Anyway, when all hope seems lost, something unexpected happens. Sitting in a darkened theatre when a little girl asks her Dad what’s happening, and Dad can’t answer straight away, because he’s got a lump in his throat. Maybe it’s because he’s been laughing or because he has tears in his eyes. It could be either because during The Muppets, both happened to me plenty of times. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen many movies recently that I thought it was so good but I don’t think so. In fact, seasoned moviegoers I know have also rated it very highly. Essentially, it’s a paean to the childhood I remember and the things that surrounded me when I grew up. To hear Lara laugh at the same things now, sitting beside me was an experience that’s hard to describe in its sheer magic. Not once did she ask to go to the toilet, not once did she ask when it's over, and not once did I have to check when there were any 2D screenings because, as the Muppets themselves say, they’re as one dimensional as ever!
The grins of delight on both adults and children when the lights come up are a rare thing in the soulless cinemascape of the 21st Century. I look forward to showing my daughter the movies I loved as a child. Sure she’ll probably hate a lot of them, but to me it seems that there were so much more high quality movies made for kids in the late seventies and eighties. But that could just be misty eyed reminiscing; I suppose I’ll find out soon enough, one of the good things about being a parent is being able to rediscover childhood to a certain extent. The Muppets did give me a stupid grin on my face for the rest of an uneventful Sunday afternoon though, and my daughter couldn’t wait to tell her mother all about it.

Ruairi Kavanagh

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