One of the duties of being an uncle is to take your young charges to places their parents haven't the time or patience to bring them to. I have, for the last 14 years, faithfully and cheerfully, carried out this serious responsibility; I have lost a small fortune in the local Chuck E. Cheese. I have been to more kiddie amusement parks than I can remember tossing my lunch in. Had I stock in McDonald's, Burger King or Wendy's, I'd be a very poor man, for my dividends would consist largely of the return of my own money.
But the one child-appropriate activity I have always enjoyed is taking the wee ones to the local theatres to sample the child-appropriate movies. I have spent literally weeks over the course of my four nephew's lives inside over-air-conditioned or hot-enough-to-grow-orchids movie theatres, stuffing them with enough sugar to ensure that when I return them to their home they have the energy to drive my sister and brother-in-law to drink with their frenetic activity.
It's one of the joys of being an uncle; you get to spoil the child rotten, and then let someone else deal with the aftermath. While you go home.
I have four nephews, the youngest being five now, and just old enough to sit still for a 75-90 minute CGI feature and enjoy it. In the last six weeks or so, we've been to the movies three times to see the latest offerings of this age of movies (mostly-) without actors, and often, a story worth a bucket of warm spit. Here's a quick review of them, just in case you have little ones you want some"us" time with;
1. Megamind: we saw this one first, the very day it hit the theatres. Mark enjoyed it, but then again, anything that allows him unlimited popcorn (the boy could live on the stuff) and soda is already bound to be a big hit. I must admit it did have it's moments, but I have two minor complaints about it;
a. When was Will Ferrell ever funny? If I recall, the biggest moments of his career came when Christopher Walken said "I need more cowbell!", and when when George W. Bush said "strategery". He's made a living off Bush, and with any luck he'll be making another living off Bushes...like when he has to pick nuts and berries off them before he returns to the refrigerator box he'll soon be living in.
For the Saturday Night Alum, his Belushi-like suicide will probably be funnier than anything he ever did in life.
b. Tina Fey is going to be very, very sorry when Sarah Palin finally wears her welcome with the American public out from sheer over-exposure, and that impression is no longer current or relevant. She might actually have to work for a living when that happens.
I find her decidedly unfunny (then again, I laugh like a ten-year-old when someone farts, so really, what do I know?), and after a while, annoying.
2. Tangled: This one was not such a big hit with Mark. First of all, it's kind of a musical, which hearkens back to the days when Disney made movies like Snow White and Cinderella, but which doesn't go all the way and present a memorable score that even adults would be happy to whistle while they worked,and would remember 50 years later.
It's a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale, which makes it boring for a five-year old boy, I guess, and while it had it's funny moments (funny in a kindergarten motif that a child would recognize as humor), it had just enough adult jokes and subject matter (not inappropriate, just serious) in it to cause a serious loss of attention span. Mark almost never asks to go home when we're out doing something...unless it's a story about a teen aged girl with really long hair.
I have to say, though, I kind of liked it.
3. Yogi Bear: Where to start? I actually had two of my nephews along for this one this past weekend; the 12 year-old one fell asleep, and Mark was asking to go home 20 minutes before the movie ended; he'd seen the one part that appealed to him (from the previews and television commercials) and then just wanted out.
The problem with Yogi Bear was the cast, I think. While Yogi and Boo-Boo were done rather well(Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake...sheesh, how does that guy keep getting jobs?) the "human" actors, Tom Cavanaugh and Anna Feris, acted as if the whole thing might have been a community theatre production.
Cavanaugh is goofy-looking, and while I used to think Feris was really cute, it's becoming clear that she's maybe the one actress you call to make really bad movies that other actresses won't touch with a ten-foot pole. The rest of the"human" cast is a who's-who of people who probably took this gig because there wasn't a really cool jock itch medication commercial in the offing.
I grew up on Yogi and Boo-Boo, and I was rather disappointed, too.