We’ve arrived at the point in our household at which if no older siblings are available, I let the boys (who are ages almost 10 and 13) go to the movies by themselves. It will not surprise you to know that I obsessively research a movie before they’re allowed to see it, so I feel very comfortable about it. I’m around during the showing, just down the mall row at Barnes and Noble, and I get back to the theater well before the movie ends. This doesn’t happen very often since most movies are awful, but rarely, it does.
That’s a preamble to telling you about last night. They’ve been wanting to see Guardians of the Galaxy, and considering the raves I’ve been reading, I wasn’t against it. It was quite rainy here last night, so it seemed like a good time to take in a flick. I was going to let them go by themselves, but do you know what? Something nagged inside, telling me…not this time. It’s not that I wanted to go. I have no truck with comic book/superhero movies – they bore the heck out of me, no matter how psychologically deep they attempt to be. In fact, the more attempted psychological depth, the duller it is. But, you know, popcorn. And that nagging sense.
And boy am I glad I did. First of all, I’m glad I can, you know, enter knowledgeably into this cultural conversation. Secondly, I would hate to have had my boys sit through the opening scene of this movie without me.
Because do you know how the adventurous hijinks begin? Cold open – no credits, just a date (1988): With a kid watching his mother die.
Okay, so it’s essential to the arc. No problem. That’s real. But I was just…surprised. And glad I listened to the voice that gently insisted I be there with the boys. And if you are taking younger children, you might what to know that. The movie starts with a young boy watching his mother die and shrinking back from her outreached hand.
But. There are other problems with this movie that hardly anyone is mentioning. There’s a surprising amount of vulgarity. Several “sh**” – includiIng one at a climactic – what I would call “quotable” moment. I don’t mind it so much, in small doses, in offhand ways, but at moments like this, when a character is making a big speech and the vulgarity is part of what might be a catch phrase..not so much.
There’s an extended riff on to what extent someone is a “dick.” Really. At one point, a character goes, “What the …” and you know the rest – how his teeth reach out to the lower lip for the beginning of the “f” sound. I really have to wonder…what kind of idiots who are also adults sit around and think, “HARDY HAR HAR…LET’S HAVE THE GUY ALMOST SAY F***!” HILARIOUS!”
I’m no prude. I say all those words in real life (not in front of the kids, though). Well, maybe not “dick” because why? But I’m not keen on them being used in movies marketed to kids.
Nor am I keen on the exhausting violence. Yes, it’s cartoonish, in a way. But it really is deadening, exhausting and stupid in the end – this constant assault of CGI creatures screaming, rolling, blasting and slicing each other, mostly for the sake of the 3D version. (Felt the same way about Hobbit 2 – it was an assault. Not just of the two parties on screen on each other, but on me. An assault, I tell you! Relentless and deadening.)
And, yes, oh, it had a point. There was a bit of self-sacrifice at two junctures, which was good and even a bit moving to behold, but other than that?
Really? You got into the late 70’s and 80’s soundtrack? As if you didn’t grasp the direct appeal to the demographic that is in its late 30’s and might have early tween kids?
Sorry for the dissent, bu once again, I’m left marveling at the resources – millions of dollars and human creative energies – spent on something that was really not great, was obviously exploitative in the way most contemporary entertainment is and that a day later, my kids aren’t quoting or referencing at all….it came, it brawled, it cussed, it moved on….