Monday, June 27, 2005


Having avoided Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D, this weekend I got to go to a kids’ movie that I wanted to see – Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle. The one problem with it came at the beginning – it was showing in an art house (which serves lattes, but to subsidize the espresso machine charges full price for matinees). The previews were not the ordinary trailers you see attached to a children’s movie – upcoming computer animated extravanzas, third-rate comic and TV knockoffs, remakes and the like for which seeing the trailer tells you more than the movie itself. (Surest sign an animated film will be a flop – when the trailer features the voice actors. Nothing against Brad Pitt's face or his voice, but they have enough trouble carrying a film together.)

Instead they were the usual art house previews of indie/edgy/serious/foreign films portraying subcultures steeped in crime, drugs and sex. This caused my wife and me some moments digging our fingernails into the armrests, eyeing our four- and six-year-olds nervously, wondering how their impressionable young minds would handle Spike Jonze material.

Surprisingly, though, cuisinarting these films into trailers results in a quick series of brief, suggestive images whose most lingering feature was smoking. Damn, whether European, Asian or American, they smoke a lot in those indie films. And the women wear loose silky clothing with no discernible undergarments. And there are a lot of penguins. Well, those were from a National Geographic documentary – but there was sex in it, so it wasn’t out of place.

But for six- and four-year-olds, I don’t know that this is any worse than the giant exploding psychotropic dragons they see on cartoons every day. Anyway, more on the movie later.