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Snarcasm: Syndrome is Mr. Incredible’s Secret Lovechild

incredibles theory

For every Snarcasm piece, I usually feature what I brazenly call “the worst articles on the Internet.”

But this week, I’m doing something a little different.

Samuel James of ScreenPrism wrote his own “Pixar Theory,”  and asked (sort of) to get my opinion on it. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind letting me give his hard work the Snarcasm treatment, and his answer was ambiguous enough for me to just do it anyway.

Sorry, Sam. You let me ask for it.

Writing for the “Insights” column, Samuel asks the question,

Is Syndrome the Illegitimate Son of Mr. Incredible? 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. If a headline on the modern Internet poses a question, then we automatically know the answer is “NO.”

But let’s give Sam a chance to explain what he means by the words, illegitimateson, and Mr.

Since their beginning with Toy Story (1995), Pixar Animation Studios have opened an entire universe of magical films for both adults and children to enjoy.

I’m seriously nitpicking here, but Toy Story does not mark the beginning of Pixar. They started working on animated shorts and commercials nearly a decade before finishing their first feature film.

Jon Negroni has argued convincingly [link] that all 15 Pixar films, from Toy Story in 1995 to the latest Inside Out in 2015, are all connected in the same world, based on interactions on Earth between humans, animals and machines.

Aw, shucks.

The idea changed my perception of the Pixar universe, and I would love to believe Negroni is right.

Sam gets the spirit of The Pixar Theory, which I love. It’s not about this theory being right or wrong. It’s about wanting to believe it’s possible. I’m still going to be mean, though, because this. Is. Snarcasm.

 Now, I have a Pixar theory of my own to share on The Incredibles (2004): what if Syndrome, the film’s eventual antagonist, is actually Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible)’s illegitimate son from a relationship that preceded his marriage to Helen Parr (Elastigirl)?

I guess stranger theories have been made? But I can’t help but notice already that The Incredibles gives us zero insight into what Bob Parr was up to before he fell in love with Helen, so this claim is already making me think this is a stretch…

incredibles theory

Too easy?

I have considered this possibility over ten years and multiple viewings of the film, and, regardless of whether it matches Brad Bird’s intentions, this reading makes sense and the whole film more interesting.

In other words, I’m right, even if it’s obvious I’m wrong.

He has followed my work!

Obviously, Buddy is older than Mr. Incredible’s other children, as the prologue is set 15 years prior to their birth and just before Mr. Incredible’s marrying Elastigirl.

Um…the prologue isn’t set 15 years prior to their birth. That would mean they’re zero years old after the time skip. I mean, I know Dash is short, but…

One more nitpick and I’m done-ish: the prologue isn’t “just before” their wedding, it’s during their wedding. OK, I’m done…ish.

When Mr. Incredible and Buddy (Syndrome’s name as a child)

You mean, his real name?

first meet inside the former’s superhero car, there seems to be a striking resemblance.

Wait, you’re saying they look the same? How?

incredibles theory

Buddy’s ears, nose, mouth, jaw, and eyes don’t resemble Bob’s at all. Their hair isn’t even that similar, just blonde. And they’re white. Is this racist? Er-superist?

Also, Bob is probably between the ages of 25 and 30, since he goes through his mid-life crisis 15 years later. If Buddy was his son, then that means he had the kid between the ages of 10 and 15.

This is all happening too fast.

Buddy naming his unofficial alterego “IncrediBoy” already suggests a role-model connection between the two,

Suggests? Buddy straight up tells Mr. Incredible that he’s his biggest fan. It’s obvious he calls himself “Incrediboy” because he’s longing to be Mr. Incredible’s sidekick. It’s about as subtle as a Donald Trump supporter’s Facebook profile.

but the fact that they look like each other may argue there is a hidden father-son relationship that the narrative has kept as subtext.

The fact?!

It’s not a fact that they look like each other. They barely even look similar. Please don’t tell me this is the crux of your argument, because I need these Snarcasms to be more than 800 words…

As a child, Buddy seems to look up to Mr. Incredible with more intensity than he would if merely a fan.

Well, yeah, this is no secret. Again, he tells Bob that he’s his biggest fan. The intensity is even explained more later on, when Buddy feels left out and wants to rid the world of all supers, not just his alleged “father.”

incredibles theory

Wearing similar attire is just fandom, but Buddy’s angry and devastated reaction to being rejected by Mr. Incredible implies he has higher expectations of the man, and the pair could be father and son.

Sam is essentially saying that you can only have high expectations when it comes to your father.

Forget about teachers, college professors, your personal trainer, and Drake’s future choreographer. If you’re obsessed with being someone else, then that obviously means you’re related to them. That explains why Brad Pitt has so many children…

Wait. Brad Pitt…Brad Bird…It’s all connected.

Brad Bird already wrote and directed a Pixar film in which a young man finds out his true paternity –the Linguini and Gusteau relationship in Ratatouille (2007)—but in The Incredibles, this could be a hidden narrative implication.

Oh! I can do this, too! “WALL-E falls in love with a machine in his movie, so that means the hidden meaning behind Toy Story is that Andy secretly wants Woody to be his boyfriend.”

I feel gross all of a sudden.

incredibles theory

After trying to help him, Mr. Incredible rejects Buddy completely and tells the police officers, “Take this one home and make sure his mom knows what he’s been doing.” It may just be vague language assuming that kids are monitored primarily by their mothers,

Let’s just say you got it right the first time—

 but the fact he just says “mom” instead of “parents” or simply “mom and dad” could imply that Mr. Incredible either knows Buddy is from a single-parent family or knows his mother.

Or it could mean that he wants Buddy’s mom to know what he’s been doing.

This awareness could raise the idea that he once had a relationship with Buddy’s mother

I love it when just knowing who someone is means you had a complicated romance with them that resulted in a lovechild. I get that all the time.

“Hey, I know that girl!”

“Yeah? Well, how many kids do you two have, Brad?”

and perhaps even left her and Buddy behind to be with Elastigirl (which could also be Syndrome’s motive to want to kill her too).

Clearly, because it had nothing to do with Buddy’s determination to kill all supers, which is what he was already doing long before he knew Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl were married (he admits he didn’t know they were together, remember?)

In case you’re wondering what I look like right now:

incredibles theory

Buddy becomes Syndrome and extracts a plot, through Mirage, to gain revenge on Bob. Upon meeting again, Syndrome explains his traumatic childhood (after the rejection) through a brief flashback and attempts to kill him. When the attempt fails, the only adequate way to make Bob suffer, in Syndrome’s mind, is to kill his new family.

Buddy didn’t even know that his family was on that plane, Samuel. He just says, “So you do know these people?” And then he sends the missiles.

He doesn’t find out they’re Bob’s family until way later, and even then, he doesn’t kill them immediately. He just holds them in captivity like any other super villain. How many times did you watch this over the course of ten years?

This could be because Syndrome never got the childhood attention from Bob, as a father and hero, which Dash, Violent and Jack-Jack were getting.

This isn’t apparent at all. There’s no moment when Syndrome looked at the kids and seemed jealous, or wished for what they had. He just wants to see Mr. Incredible lose everything that’s dear to him.

In the climax scene at the Parr home, Syndrome doesn’t really attack or attempt to kill the family. Instead, his intention is to kidnap Jack-Jack, the youngest child. Syndrome’s motive is to rid Bob of his infant child and recreate the paternal loss that he himself experienced from childhood, even at one year old.

You just said that he apparently wants to kill Bob’s family. Which is it, then?

And Bob wouldn’t suffer “paternal loss.” He’d suffer infant loss. That’s not the same thing at all.

And Buddy says he wants to kidnap Jack-Jack to “steal” their future, just like they stole his. They didn’t steal Buddy’s “past,” which is what your theory implies.

Buddy even says mentor when he’s talking about taking Jack-Jack under his wing in a way that Bob never did. If Bob was his father, and Buddy knew this, then wouldn’t he have said father?

And, and, and, ANDDDDDD…

incredibles theory

Bob shows no remorse or sadness when Syndrome dies. This could indicate Syndrome in fact wasn’t his son, but the narrative doesn’t address Bob’s response to Syndrome’s death in depth in a particular shot or any dialogue. 

Of course it doesn’t. The guy tried to kill him and steal his kid. Would you show remorse if the guy got what he clearly deserved?

Bob shows relief. The nightmare’s over. His family is finally safe, and the villain has been defeated. No depth necessary.

This whole theory may sound crazy, but it potentially adds more depth to Syndrome/Buddy’s character,

Does it? Being related to someone adds about as much depth as you would see in a soap opera.

When Luke finds out that Darth Vader is his father, the impact is huge for more reasons than a blood test. This is the guy Luke believed killed his father. This is the guy who killed his mentor and blew up the planet of one of his friends. This is the biggest, baddest, guy in the galaxy, and Luke now has to deal with the fact that he’s the son of this man, which means he’s capable of darkness, too.

But in The Incredibles, the friction between Buddy and Bob is readily explained. It already has depth and doesn’t need an arbitrary link to explain itself or become “more sophisticated” as Sam later says. It’s not like anyone left the theater wondering why Buddy was a villain. His backstory, in this case, is quite sufficient.

incredibles theory

Maybe I’m being harsh (OK, I’m being incredibly harsh and terrible), but my point is that if you’re going to suggest that two characters in a movie (or movie universe) are related without much evidence, then at least explain why it would make the movie better. 

In this case, I can see that Sam is really trying to do that, though he definitely comes up short with the argument that true drama is just a matter of who people are sleeping with (what has The CW done to us?)

Now, if Sam can elaborate on that Brad Pitt=Brad Bird theory we stumbled onto earlier, then he certainly has my attention yet again…

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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Snarcasm: The ‘Star Wars’ Prequels Were The Best Movies All Along

Star Wars prequels

Snarcasm is a weekly series where I encounter and try to understand the worst articles on the Internet. This week, I take on my fellow millennials who’ll say anything for a click. 

OK, we already talked about Star Wars a few weeks ago, but that was more about Piers Morgan and how irrelevant his film commentary is. That said, a similarly contentious article about the revered Star Wars saga was recently dropped on my doorstep with “It’s a trap!” scribbled across the label.

Writing for Toronto Star, Ian Gormely presents his case for why we may have been a little too harsh with the Star Wars prequels. Of course, that means his headline is…

Why the Star Wars prequels are better than the originals

And they say clickbait doesn’t write itself.

Now to be fair, the subhead is a little less sensational:

A generation of fans who grew up with the more recent trilogy make a compelling case that those are the superior films.

*shrugs*

Alright, you have an element of an interesting think piece here because younger viewers like me gave the prequels a pass, which is arguably similar to how older fans forgave the original trilogy for its ample flaws. I don’t agree, but it’s a worthwhile argument.

Then the article starts.

The prequels never stood a chance.

Right. One of the most anticipated films of the last 20 years never stood a chance. And yet the hype surrounding The Phantom Menace was astronomical, more so than this year’s The Force Awakens (because hey, we’ve learned the hard way not to get our hopes up).

The prequels very much stood a chance. People over the age of 15 just didn’t like them.

Hampered by two decades’ worth of expectations and hype, George Lucas’s deep dive back into the Star Wars universe was destined to disappoint.

I’m sure Ian would have said the same thing about The Empire Strikes Back if it had been terrible.

Star Wars (awkwardly retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope when Lucas rereleased it in 1997) and its sequels were generation-defining movies.

Awkwardly? I grew up in this time period, too, and I don’t remember having an issue with the naming conventions. And if they had kept the name “Star Warsfor just the fourth movie, that would have been way more awkward.

Also, why even bring that up?

When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace arrived in May 1999 fans were met with a film that was visually (computer-generated effects) and tonally (it was aimed at kids) miles away from their beloved originals.

When he says aimed at kids, he’s implying that the movie was mostly aimed at kids. Which isn’t true at all if you remember any scene from The Phantom Menace about trade negotiations, political squabbling, and multiple Jedi blathering instead of fighting until the last ten minutes.

And just to be clear, I enjoyed The Phantom Menace as much as I did Revenge of the Sith. I think they’re decent, even average movies. Their mediocrity is all the more depressing, of course, when you compare them with the original trilogy. Attack of the Clones is the only Star Wars film (in my opinion) that gets a failing grade.

 Subsequent prequels, Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, moved closer to Lucas’s originals, but many fans felt betrayed. This wasn’t their Star Wars.

He’s framing this argument as if Lucas was some sort of visionary trying to create something different, but those pesky fanboys were just too afraid of change. The problem, obviously, was that this change we got in the prequels was filled with annoying issues that even kids pretty much shrugged at.

Granted, we loved the prequels as kids. At the time, they were beautiful spectacles that forced us to wade through hackneyed plots to get to the stylized action. But not once did I ever consider them better than the original trilogy, solely because they were designed to be depressing departures, while the rest of the saga was filled with…well, hope.

J.J. Abrams’ upcoming seventh film, Episode VII: the Force Awakens, will reportedly hew closer in style to the original trilogy. 

Reportedly? Why did this blog spam suddenly remember it’s on a news publication?

But here’s the rub: a lot of people went to see The Phantom Menace — it made a billion dollars at the box office. Now in their 20s, this generation of Star Wars fan grew up not knowing a world without digital effects or Jar Jar Binks.

You know, unless we watched Quentin Tarantino movies instead.

To get a better sense of how they view the Star Wars universe we asked three deeply passionate fans to share their thoughts on the prequels.

Nice prank, Ian! For a second, I thought you were going to crowdsource your opinionated article with anecdotes instead of arguments—

Stuart (do you really want to know his last name? Isn’t privacy a thing in cases like this?)

Current Age: 26, which means he was 10 when Phantom Menace was released in 1999.

Why is this happening?

I’m going to leave out the heaps of personal data Ian dishes out for this guy, including his inclusion of (and I’m not joking) working for Virgin Radio.

I loved Darth Maul. The final lightsaber battle, that was the best lightsaber fight I’d ever seen.

Really? Because even my 8-year-old self still preferred Luke’s freakout in Return of the Jedi. Different strokes, but perhaps you loved that lightsaber battle more because the rest of the movie was so forgettable? Maybe?

Fans of the old series were looking for that nostalgia that they could relive. When the Phantom Menace came out, that’s when I think I was getting the experience that my dad and his generation had when the originals came out.

The problem is you think you had the same experience, but you’ll never know. And that’s fine. It’s great that you enjoyed these movies, but how can you compare that with someone’s else’s experience with a different movie during a different era? It would be like me telling my grandmother that seeing Get Hard was the equivalent of her going to see Gone With The Wind on opening night.

Ian’s next conveniently positive anecdote comes from someone who was 6 when The Phantom Menace came out (I wonder why we aren’t talking about Attack of the Clones at all?)

If you look at Star Wars as an epic Grecian tragedy, (the prequels) contextualize the original trilogy so well. It actually lends the original trilogy a lot more power when you know the history behind it

At times, this happens, sure. Notably in Revenge of the Sith when we get some solid scenes of Anakin getting seduced by the dark side. But come on, that’s a fraction of the whole film, which was mostly nonsense dialogue, deadpan characters, needless explanations of things that were better left to our imaginations, and sand, everywhere.

The worlds, the designs and the sci-fi concepts they introduce (in Attack of the Clones) are the best in all of Star Wars.

No.

No, they are not.

No reasonable fan with a straight face can say that the worlds of Attack of the Clones — Coruscant (which we’d already seen before), Tattooine (which we’d already seen before), Naboo (which we’d already seen before), and an asteroid field (which we’d already seen before) — were superior to anything in the other films, including the prequels.

Scrap those rehashed locations and you’re left with the green screen that is Kamino and Geonosis, which was basically Tattooine with mountains and a CGI factory.

Simply put, saying Attack of The Clones has the best worlds and designs is like claiming Chappie is a better Neill Blomkamp movie than District 9.

They made the political parts of The Phantom Menace that people hated, the political intrigue, actually interesting.

Oh really? I wonder how many people can tell me (without looking it up) why Jango Fett was trying to assassinate Senator Amidala. Or how Palpatine specifically got his emergency powers. Or why the clones were working for Jango, but ended up in the hands of the Republic by the very end. Or why Dooku betrayed the Jedi. Or what Anakin’s deal is with SAND EVERYWHERE, HE’S FROM A SAND WORLD SO HE SHOULD BE USED TO IT.

Sorry. Unresolved issues.

Star Wars was an adventure story and now they give it scope. It’s more than a ragtag team trying to take on the whole world. It almost becomes a political thriller.

Now we’re just throwing words into sentences and calling them paragraphs, people.

A ragtag team? Of a girl, her stalker, and two droids who offer nothing to the plot but are only there because we remember them from other movies? Or were you referring to Obi-Wan and…um…that fat alien from the diner? Oh, those dang misfits!

Ian provides more anecdotes, and what’s funny about them is that these guys completely admit the elements of the prequels are terrible. One guy notes “the crappy love story,” but justifies it by saying people were invested and had to see what’s next. You know, like clickbait.

And that’s it! Ian ends the article…there. No conclusion…hmmm…comments are closed, that’s interesting…

I guess I missed the part where Ian and his friends actually make a case for why the prequels are better than the original trilogy. Or bring up specific things about the original trilogy. All I read was a laundry list of subjective observations and straw grasping for the sake of getting attention. That’s the Snarcasm guarantee.

Guys, I’m not trying to hate on anyone who loves the prequels. I get it. They can be guilty pleasures because we saw them at an age when all we wanted to see on the big screen was a cacophony of lightsaber fights and epic space battles. And the prequels absolutely delivered on that.

But let’s not kid ourselves, pun intended. The prequels were fan service, but for the lowest common denominator. They were the Fast and Furious movies in space, except they were intended to be more compelling, which makes them all the more cringeworthy. I don’t mind re-watching them and appreciating decent moments throughout, but you’re never going to convince true fans of any age that they’re better than what we got with the original trilogy.

And please don’t watch Chappie

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

 

Snarcasm: Well, Someone Has to Hate ‘Finding Nemo’

finding nemo hate

Snarcasm is a weekly series about the worst articles on the Internet, and how we can snarcastically deal with them. 

Now that Pixar has gracefully released the first trailer for Finding Dory, I thought it would be refreshing to dive back into the fun we had with Finding Nemo 12 years ago.

In fact, I tried to find negative articles and opinion pieces about the new trailer, but I surprisingly found no one willing to be that person (outside of your friendly neighborhood comment section).

So I suppose that means Finding Nemo was universally beloved?

Ha, of course not. And that’s not a bad thing! You’ll always find someone who dislikes a movie you enjoy. But that doesn’t mean their reasons always make sense.

finding nemo hate

Back in 2003, Stephanie Zacharek (writing for Salon at the time) wrote one of the most confusing movie reviews I think I’ve ever read. And preparing for this weekly series means I have to read a lot of junk to decide what gets featured, so I hope that sinks in. OK, I’m done with the sea puns.

Anyway, Stephanie recommended her readers skip Finding Nemo altogether with the tagline,

Pixar’s latest animation wonder — a shimmery, velvety undersea coming-of-age story — sure is beautiful. But why should we spend two hours looking at it?

…because it’s beautiful?

Also, that’s not the last time she finds a way to weave in the word, velvet.

There’s no question that Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” aglow with translucent sea flora and shimmering, iridescent creatures, is beautiful to look at.

Right, even by today’s standards.

Who wouldn’t be entranced by that corps of pink art nouveau jellyfish, twirling about in their deadly underwater ballet, or by the sight of painstakingly adorable Nemo himself, the movie’s hero, a brave little Halloween-colored clown fish with googly eyes and one shrimpy fin?

…Go on.

Every moment in “Finding Nemo” is magnificently orchestrated to tease a response from us

Oh, not this again. From Up to Inside Out, you’ll always find a film critic getting hot and bothered by the fact that Pixar uses emotion to its advantage. Then, a week later, criticize an action movie for being heartless.

and those who don’t fall for it are sure to be denounced as insensitive, blind to the magic of animation and, last but not least, pitiably unable to view the world through the eyes of a child.

So brave, Stephanie. Nothing gets a review started on the right note like defending your criticism with self-victimization.

But after years of cultivating the eyes of a grown-up, I like to think there’s something to be said for using them.

In other words, “All other critics are childish, but I’m not.”

“Finding Nemo” is lovely to look at — and time and again I found myself asking, “Who cares?”

I’d hate to go with you to the Grand Canyon.

It’s possible that “Finding Nemo” — and most computer animation in general, including other Pixar micro-masterpieces like “A Bug’s Life” and “Monsters Inc.” — offer too much of a good thing. 

Too much beauty? Is that really the criticism we’re resorting to? That’s why people should skip this?

How much microscopic detail can the human eye absorb before it stops registering that detail altogether?

“Ah! Shield my eyes! If I can’t grasp it all in one moment, there’s no way I can appreciate this!

Wait, you mean I can come back to the Grand Canyon?”

I certainly noticed that the navy-spotted back of the stingray schoolteacher in “Finding Nemo” looks so velvety it seemed you could reach out and touch it.

The horror.

When the movie’s action took us above the surface of the ocean, I noted the multihued glimmer of that surface and dutifully scribbled in my notebook, “Lovely sun-gold on blue sea.”

You just complained that there’s too much beauty to love, so now you’re bragging about everything you caught that you think everyone else will overlook?

So, not only are critics childish, but audiences are moronic.

It’s all beautiful, all right. But before long I began to feel beaten against the rocks of that beauty

This has to be a prank.

“Finding Nemo” smacks of looky-what-I-can-do virtuosity, and after the first 10 minutes or so, it’s exhausting. Written and directed by Andrew Stanton, the movie is filled with bits of cleverness to keep the adults, as well as the kids, entertained.

Let me guess: the next line is about how you like the thing you just complained about.

And yes, I did laugh at the way the seagulls squawk “Mine! Mine!” as well as at the lobsters’ distinct Boston accents.

There we go. Nothing makes your criticism look as valid as a good old fashioned contradiction. Because if you reread those last few lines, you’ll see that she first complains the movie is exhausting, then she admits that it’s clever enough to keep you entertained.

But “Finding Nemo” works terribly hard for every scrap of charm or humor it imparts. 

Now we’re mad that the movie is a hard worker. Next, we’re going to tear it to pieces for giving characters dimension and rightfully avoiding a romantic subplot.

“Finding Nemo” is teeming with lessons for parents and kids alike: Kids, you can do great things even if you have the human equivalent of a shrunken fin! Parents, don’t shelter your kids from the world to the extent that they never get a chance to live in it! In between lessons, there’s lots of peril to keep things exciting.

“But none of this good stuff matters because I hate you.”

Seriously, does she like this movie or not? Because I’ve only read about two sentences with an inkling of criticism, but they’ve been offset immediately by the rest of her comments.

Peril always equals drama in the Disney version (Disney co-produces with Pixar), and if your kids can take it, or actually like it, more power to them.

Can you imagine if kids liked dangerous situations? I sure can’t. That’s why I’m the biggest fan of Powerless Rangers.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly traumatizing in “Finding Nemo,” and admittedly, if Marlin and Dory didn’t face danger at every turn, there would be no story at all.

“It’s traumatizing, but not traumatizing at all.”

But what we get is still a snoozer.

Clearly. Since you just talked about the useful life lessons, entertaining story, dramatic situations, and beautiful imagery.

But hey, maybe she’s about to explain why it’s a snoozer! (Spoiler alert: she doesn’t).

There are lots of grown-up jokes in “Finding Nemo,” including a 12-step gag and a caravan of aged surfer-dude stoner sea turtles, both of which are sure to make adults laugh knowingly, which is surely the least fun kind of laughing there is, although it counts for something.

In one sentence, Stephanie compliments the movie, gives that compliment a caveat, criticizes the compliment itself, and then says it counts for something. I’m almost impressed.

Also, she’s actually saying that the “least fun kind of laughing” is reference humor. You read it here first. Never mind that in order for her to get it across that she doesn’t like the movie, she has to belittle the things about it the you like.

And I do confess to being at least somewhat captivated by Gill (Willem Dafoe), the tough-guy king of the fish tank who takes Nemo under his fin.

I’m just going to say this one more time, for emphasis. There are more compliments in this review than criticisms. This is actually happening.

“Finding Nemo” sure looks technically flawless,

hopes raise

for those who are impressed by such things.

Am I reading a drama essay by Doug Funnie’s sister, Judith?

I don’t really know what’s involved in making a feature that’s as clearly ambitious as “Finding Nemo” is. I can’t tell you how many hours were spent getting the picture to look just so (I’m sure it was a lot), and I would never question how much raw talent the individuals who worked on it possess (I doubt it can even be measured).

Your ignorance is noted.

Will lots of little kids (and big ones) enjoy “Finding Nemo”? Absolutely. 

But…

 Is it an achievement? Without a doubt.

I have no words.

It’s all of those things, and less — the littlest fish in the sea masquerading as a whale, failing to take into account its conspicuous lack of warm blood.

How is this a comparison? OK, so she finishes the review here with the biting metaphor that Finding Nemo is basically a collection of small elements working together to “masquerade” as something bigger…but it’s hollow…or something.

Despite the fact that moviemaking itself is all about small elements working together to pull off an illusion. Maybe if this was Blackfish, Stephanie would find a reason to be glad this movie exists, but even then, she doesn’t even count the “lessons” she touted earlier as being very useful, anyway.

finding nemo hate

Can you see why this is one of the most confusing film reviews I’ve ever read? In it, Stephanie hardly criticizes the film at all and instead gives it vain praise like she’s one of Regina George’s underlings. Sure, her adjectives are pretty, and she found fancy ways to illustrate what works visually throughout the movie. But none of the ideas in this review give you any sense of whether or not Finding Nemo is worth seeing.

Since she gave the film less than 2 stars, however, that essentially means that she recommends you skip it. Despite all of the praise you read above, including the admission that the movie is an achievement that will be loved by children.

Nope! You need to skip this because…well, I’m not sure why.

I did a little digging into other movies reviewed by Stephanie Zacharek, and unsurprisingly, she’s pretty good at what she does. She was even nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in criticism at one point (although I think it’s fair to mention that she gave Hot Pursuit a passing grade, calling Sophia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon a terrific team).

hot pursuit
But “Finding Nemo” tries too hard.

I also dug through her reviews of animated movies, and it was pretty telling. For one thing, her criticism of Minions is identical to the line she uses in Finding Nemo, essentially stating that it’s “too much of a good thing.”

She did say that How to Train Your Dragon 2 (mostly) works, and she apparently loves the first one more than any other DreamWorks movie. But looking through her pedigree, it’s painfully clear that she just doesn’t have a thing for computer animated films, or at least the technical aspects behind them that make the movies even more impressive.

Obviously, this isn’t a big deal because this is just the opinion of one critic. My only complaint is that if you’re going to recommend that someone pass on a movie (especially one that’s universally praised), you better provide a better explanation for why.

And yes, that’s exactly what I said last week about Room. I think I’m starting to see a trend with these film reviews.

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below! 

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Snarcasm: There’s Only One Reason To Hate ‘Room’

room movie

Snarcasm is a weekly series about the worst articles on the Internet, and how we can snarcastically deal with them. 

Warning, this week’s Snarcasm contains spoilers for Room. Read at your own risk! 

Room is one of my favorite movies of the year, but it’s no surprise that not everyone feels that way. But my face went inside out when I read that veteran film critic of San Diego Reader, Matthew Lickona, gave it 1/5 stars.

Ouch.

That’s fine, I said aloud in a room full of people I didn’t know. Lickona always has his reasons. Sure, sometimes I disagree, but at least he gives good explanat—then I read the review.

Let’s start!

A cowardly movie about brave people. 

This isn’t even a sentence, but OK. Lickona begins his review with what Rotten Tomatoes will extract for a blurb. I can almost hear Lickona knocking on wood in celebration that he’s come up with the perfect “finish him” moment.

Part one is heartrendingly human, bordering on wise: a considered portrait of motherly love under extreme duress.

Well, that sounds nice.

To wit: Ma (Brie Larson) is both captive and sexual slave to a dim Midwestern monster, trapped in a soundproofed shed with a son (Jacob Tremblay) who has never seen the world outside. (Well, except on TV.)

See, this is good writing. Clear, concise, no nonsense. You know, like Lickona’s other reviews.

Wonderfully and believably, she gives the boy a life, an education, a cosmology, and a family; what is more, she manages to shield him from the horror of her own situation.

Go on…

It’s only when the boy’s innocence is threatened that she resolves to set him free. (Spoilers, of a sort, to follow.)

This is a nitpick, but that’s not entirely true. So yeah, spoilers if you don’t want to get spoiled…

Her choice to enact an escape plan isn’t solely intended to protect Jack’s innocence. The inciting event is clearly the revelation that her captor has been laid off for six months, and he’ll soon have no more money left to sustain their captivity. She’s literally fighting for their lives at this point.

Free him she does, and that’s when the film loses its nerve,

And…I can say the same for this review.

transforming from an unflinching look at love amid suffering into an embarrassing bout of wishful thinking. 

Nothing about this sentence makes sense if you’ve watched the movie or…otherwise. Because the main point of the second two acts is that they’re still suffering. But the problem is that their love for each other is strained. What is embarrassing about this? In what way is this wishful thinking on the part of anyone Lickona is referring?

It makes sense for Ma to fall apart once the ordeal is over.

Right.

But it does not make sense — psychologically, developmentally, but above all, narratively — for an anger-prone child whose entire, largely happy world has been ripped asunder to magically become both moppet and angel of salvation.

Cherrypicking. Call the child anger-prone, and you can get away with propping him up as a one-dimensional character, even though this same child is also (as we see in the first act): adventurous, loving, curious, and filled with ingenuity.

But Lickona couldn’t look past one element of his character to leave room (get it?) for a story arc.

In other words, Lickona seems to despise Room because he doesn’t think Jack should’ve adapted so easily to the world. Never mind it takes incredible acting to get that across or that the movie provokes you to rethink Jack as a character throughout the entire movie.

room movie

No, Lickona claims  Room is wishful thinking because one character reacts harshly to a tough situation, but the innocent child finds a way to thrive in the way his mother did in the first act.

Seriously. 1/5 stars.

Of course, I’ve been responding as if I accept Lickona’s premise that Jack is a moppet throughout the movie. Except, Jack doesn’t immediately adjust to the world, especially not physically. He’s quiet, hard to talk to, combative, and distant throughout the second act, which is artfully demonstrated by his physical limitations early on.

And overall, he’s not that much of a salvation for his mother, despite saving her life a second time. The film ends with her barely gripping with the fact that she was a selfish parent all along.

The true angel of salvation in this movie was Jack’s grandmother, who served as a narrative gift that Ma truly wanted for her son: someone to connect with. That moment when Jack tells his grandmother that he loves her is an earned moment, not just the words of a moppet. And then there’s that second moment when Ma sees him in the backyard connecting with someone else without her help. 

room movie

Oh, and this is the end of the review! I left nothing out. Lickona gives no basis for his assertions here, effectively saying that the film’s cinematography, score, and performances offer no merit beyond 1/5 stars. It’s a “bad” movie because Lickona got hung up on one aspect of the story that’s arguable at best. How is this a review?

Look, if you didn’t like the structure or coherence of Room, that’s one thing. I even criticized the pacing in my own review. Maybe that makes the film a 3/5, or maybe even a 2 for some. But to pan the film based on the delivery of a story for reasons that amount to your own cloudy expectations is lazy to say the least.

Now, you might be thinking, “Jon! Why should we care if one critic didn’t like Room?”

Well, what’s really got me frustrated is that someone is going to read Lickona’s lackluster review and write off a movie that deserves to be seen. A movie that person may have cherished. My point is that if you’re going to demolish a film, at least give us more than a paragraph explaining why.

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below! 

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Snarcasm: ‘Star Wars’ Is Overrated

star wars overrated

Snark + Sarcasm = what’s you’re about to read. This week: the legendary saga that everyone loves is terrible unless you’ve watched it. 

Here’s the thing about Star Wars. A lot of people like these movies, while some people don’t. Another group of people are indifferent. But the people who adore Star Wars are incredibly vocal about how much they love the films, and box office records prove they represent a large slice of moviegoers.

Of course, it should be equally fine when someone is vocal about disliking Star Wars. All’s fair in love and (Star) war. But you know what isn’t equally fine? Reading a troll piece by Piers Morgan on Daily Mail about how Star Wars isn’t just bad, it sucks. Oh, and it’s overrated, too.

Here’s the link, but please don’t click. In fact, don’t even read this Snarcasm piece if you really just want to have a nice day free of hair-raising distractions. It’s not worth it. If you do want to read a contrarian piece on why Star Wars might be overrated, here is a far superior read by Devin Faraci on the subject. I disagree overall, but at least he makes a good argument.

star wars overrated

But if you love train wrecks as much as I do, then let’s get started!

HEADLINE:

The Force Awakens? Sorry, but Star Wars has sucked for 40 overrated, overhyped, preposterous years

In the words of Heath Ledger, “And here. We. Go.” 

Last night, a very strange thing happened.

You realized you had a deadline due in less than a day? That would explain a lot.

I was lying in my Los Angeles bed when the earth moved in a way I haven’t experienced since a large quake knocked me onto the floor five years ago.

I’m guessing he’s referring to the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked Baja California and killed four people (injuring at least 100 others). If that’s the case, why is he even joking about this?

Only this time not literally, more virtually.

More virtually? Come on, even Daily Mail has to have at least one editor.

I was the unwitting victim of a televisual, cyberspace phenomenon; the single most exciting thing many Americans appeared to have witnessed since the lunar landing in 1969.

This is actually happening.

A news event so vast in its magnitude that grown men wept, women shrieked and kids bounced around howling like banshees.

Go on…

Journalists whom I otherwise respect began tweeting photos of their newsrooms in a state of collective paralyzation, hordes of frozen figures standing open-mouthed, ashen-faced and quivering around their monitors.

So you don’t respect journalists for talking about a news event that everyone cares about? You don’t respect journalists for liking something a lot? Scratch that, I don’t think anyone wants to be respected by Piers Morgan.

Twitter exploded.

What a nightmare.

Facebook erupted.

Aw, man!

And a national whooping delirium filled the air.

It’s just not fair.

‘Oh my GOD!’

‘WOW!’

‘That’s INSANE, man!’

‘AWESOME!’

‘THAT. IS. THE. COOLEST. THING. LIKE. EVER!’

Five things no one has ever said about something associated with Piers Morgan. Well, maybe “Wow! I can’t believe Piers Morgan likes himself so much!” Or, “Oh my GOD! Even Piers Morgan is allowed to write for The Daily Mail!”

There’s just one problem: it wasn’t.

That’s all?

I didn’t get it.

So, there’s two problems…

Any of it.

Hm.

I watched the exact same ‘thing’ as everyone else, and it left me feeling less enthused than a Jeb Bush rally.

Sorry? Are you trying to gain sympathy or something?

The trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which aired for the first time during ESPN’s Monday Night Football show, lasted just two minutes and 23 seconds. Time that I will never now get back.

Well, you watched a trailer for something that (as you’ll reveal later) you’ve never had an interest in. Sounds like you’re the one who needs to work on time management.

At the start, a weird-headed creature appeared and a voice asked: “Who are you?’ To which my answer was: ‘I’m Piers, and I’m already bemused.’

Why? So far, you’ve spoken nothing about why this is such a big deal for you, or how the trailer is getting on your nerves.

It got worse.

Yeah? From a voice asking, “Who are you?” Why is your complaint article lacking actual complaints?

A random person walking in the desert, another weird-headed creature, a second random person walking in the desert, more weird-headed creatures, myriad flashing lights, swords and flying saucers, and then the weirdest-headed creature of them all: Harrison Ford (the great man is so facially brown and craggy now I’m only surprised Matt Damon hasn’t tried to land on him.)

This is gibberish. What constitutes random for you, Piers? Should a trading card be hovering over the head of every character with their exact plot outline so you can keep up?

And using “weird” over and over again doesn’t do much to explain what makes them weird, or why you think it’s weird. Myriad flashing lights? Seriously? That’s the best you can poke holes at? Even CinemaSins did a better job trolling this trailer than you.

Not swords! Not…flying saucers? Where did those show up? Harrison Ford got old, so that’s bad? WHAT’S HAPPENING?

‘THE FORCE! IT’S CALLING YOU!’ commanded the announcer. Well, I’m not in, sorry.

Well, I don’t think the “announcer” was talking to you. So, apology rejected.

In fact, I’ve never been in when The Force has called. 

Ah, OK. So you just don’t like the movies. That’s fine—

I’m 50 years old and I’ve not watched a single one of the six Star Wars movies.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Don’t get me wrong. No one really cares. But…WHY ARE YOU WRITING ABOUT THIS? It’s one thing to criticize a franchise you don’t like. It’s another to poorly whine about a franchise you’ve never watched.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried.

Clearly.

But I’ve never got further than five minutes with any of them before hitting the STOP button, shaking the cascading cheese out of my TV set and going for a recuperative neck massage.

So, you tried to watch the sequels/prequels without any context? Why should we trust anything you say about anything?

As the decades have passed by, my distaste for all things Star Wars has developed into an oddly visceral loathing.

WHY? You’ve never watched the movies. Why do you care at all about any of this? Are you that offended by the fact that you don’t like something that’s popular? They teach you how to control emotions like this in preschool.

I only have to hear that dreaded theme music to feel the skin begin to peel itself off my flesh.

Now you’re bringing John Williams into this? One of the most celebrated composers of our time?

And don’t even get me started with the ghastly merchandise, which seems to pervade every store in the United States.

OK, I guess retailers should think twice before capitalizing on high demand because one guy is mildly annoyed when he strolls into the toy aisle for inexplicable reasons.

So I wouldn’t, frankly, know one end of a Yoda from a Jedi. The only Chewbacca I’ve experienced is the kind that I perform when someone treats me to a Monte Cristo No2. And Hans Solo sounds like something best reserved for the kind of Vegas bordellos we’ve been reading rather too much about in the last few days.

He’s still talking. Somehow, he thinks his opinion is so important, everyone needs to glean his ignorance of a pop culture franchise. To be clear, I’m sharing this more as a PSA of how not to write something for the Internet. For the world, really.

This, I realise, parks me firmly in the minority.

Trust me, we know how excited this makes you.

Online ticket sales of this 7th Star Wars epic crashed huge movie-goer websites like Fandango. It’s probably going to be a massive hit, regardless of what I think.

Yeah, maybe that should tell you something.

But, as with that pseudo-intellectual load of old thespian codswallop, Birdman, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Star Wars sucks.

Actually, that’s exactly what makes you wrong. I also don’t like Birdman, but you know what? That actually doesn’t mean it sucks. Because far more people love it, and for good reason. I’m starting to think Piers Morgan is just channeling Anton Ego for kicks right now.

Also, we’re about 1000 words in, and Piers is yet to explain why Star Wars sucks. You know, the headline. Apparently, it just sucks because he hasn’t watched it. Compelling stuff, Daily Mail.

Don’t take my word for it,

Way ahead of you.

take the words of almost everyone involved in its very first incarnation back in 1977. Legend has it that when producer George Lucas first showed a rough cut of the original Star Wars to Hollywood associates and chums, hardly any of them liked it.

Because if there’s one thing we know about Hollywood, it’s that they’re never wrong.

They thought the plot was preposterous, the characters’ names utterly absurd, and as for the writing, this is what Sir Alec Guinness wrote to a friend from the set during filming: ‘New rubbish dialogue reaches me every day and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable.’

What Piers is forgetting, obviously, is that people didn’t know what to make of this movie when it first came out, as it was the first science fiction space opera to gain some traction with audiences. While Star Wars is nowhere near perfect, it was also dramatically different from anything else coming out at the time.

star wars overrated
Crowds gathering around the 1977 release of “Star Wars”

Sure, the dialogue was strange and the adventures were hammy. But this is a movie that is mostly praised for how it captivated our imaginations. And it was a great first attempt in its own right.

The critics, when it was released, agreed. ‘What’s stunning about it is simply how bad it is,’ wrote Salon’s Charles Taylor. Others damned it as lazy, cliché-d and tortured. At least that first movie had the benefit of novelty.

Ah yes, Charles Taylor, the same critic who hated Million Dollar Baby and loved Mission to Mars. Piers is clearly forgetting that Taylor is well-known for being against the consensus. That said, many, many more critics praised Star Wars than Piers is letting on, and I’ll actually provide links!

Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars

Hollywood Reporter‘s Ron Pennington predicted it would emerge as a true classic of science fiction.

Jeff Millar called it an immensely entertaining film.

Kathleen Carroll praised it as a mind-blowing spectacle.

Gene Siskel gave it 3.5/4 stars and said it had the best visual effects since Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I have about 70 other critics I can cite, but I think you get it.

The sequels have got increasingly worse (according to those who’ve actually endured them).

Piers, if you’re going to base your arguments around anecdotes because you don’t know what you’re talking about, can you at least spell them out?

Now, as we brace ourselves for the 7th instalment, the whole Star Wars genre has become synonymous with one gloriously British word: ‘Naff’. Naff, for my American friends, is a derogatory term deployed by rich, privileged people (think those who live upstairs at Downton Abbey) when they wish to convey a sense of something being stupid, lame, unpalatable, and quite shudderingly uncool.

What’s really funny about this is that Piers Morgan thinks people who love Star Wars are doing it to be “cool.” Also, Piers Morgan is implying he knows what’s cool.

Let’s be honest here: did anyone watch that Star Wars trailer last night and genuinely think it was fantastic?

Personally? I thought it was good. Though I liked the last trailer better.

Or were you all just caught up in a very clever, very cynical piece of marketing brilliance by Disney?

Which is…what, exactly? Showing us parts of a movie that look fantastic? Those masterminds.

One based on the old Tinsel Town maxim of: ‘If it worked 40 years ago, let’s just repackage it, pretend it’s brand new, and do it all over again.’

How would you know if it’s repackaged if you haven’t seen it? In fact, no one seems to really know what this movie is actually about yet, so it’s nonsense to make this accusation.

I, peering through my dispassionate, uncontaminated eyes, laughed out loud during the trailer and not for any good reasons.

Wait, that’s it? You just asserted that this trailer is just a repackaged version of A New Hope without any support or examples…just so you could sooner get to your weird, repetitive anecdote no one cares about?

The only Force it reawakened in me is one of even firmer resolution not to go and see this latest diabolical affront to my sophisticated celluloid senses.

Oh, I’m wildly thankful this trailer wasn’t catered to the senses of Piers Morgan.

You can stick this over-rated, over-hyped, fantastically silly nonsense up your R2-D2.

I guess it’s unsurprising that even his put-downs make zero sense.

Well, that was bizarre. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone do such a bad job at purposefully trolling something, save for every public appearance of Donald Trump. After reading all of this, does anyone really believe the guy wrote this because he actually believes a word he’s writing?

Morgan didn’t really criticize anything. Throughout, his disliking of Star Wars seems to be completely arbitrary and based on everything about the love for the movies, instead of the movies themselves. It’s clear he’s looking for attention, but is it too much to ask for at least a little effort when you want people to notice you?

star wars overrated

Ultimately, I disagree with the notion that anything is “overrated.” I think it’s a false criticism that boils down to disliking how much attention something has gotten. What you’re really saying is that the emotional response someone had while watching The Empire Strikes Back is invalid because you got hung up on technical flaws, despite the fact that landing an aesthetic that connects with audiences is the primary job of the filmmaker.

But saying something is overrated makes the person with said opinion feel better about their opinion, and they love that feeling of getting inside someone’s head and making them feel guilty for having a sincere, even giddy reaction to a movie trailer they desperately want to see.

No thanks.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Snarcasm: ‘Pan’ Was Good, No Matter How Much You Hated It

pan review

Snark + Sarcasm = what’s you’re about to read. This week: Why doesn’t anyone think of the children…when reviewing Pan so harshly? 

If you’ve been following the reviews coming out of Pan, the latest Peter Pan adaptation that focuses on the famous character’s origins, then you know that it’s been widely dismissed (no, I’m not using that pun. Or pan?)

I saw the film and reviewed it on the Now Conspiring podcast. In my opinion, it’s the worst adaptation of Peter Pan I’ve ever seen, including the plays. I love the story, especially the 2003 live-action take on it. Like most millennials, I love Hook. Heck, I even like the version we got with Once Upon a Time. 

So I hate to say that for me, Pan is a D minus.

And I’m not alone. The reviews at large have been downright scathing. They’re a fun read for anyone who gets their kicks from sassy critics. Even the positive reviews have been mostly unkind, giving the film only a little credit in spite of itself.

Then there’s Eddie from Nerd Reactor. Let’s talk about his Pan review, starting with the headline:

The only review of ‘Pan’ you’ll ever need to read!

That’s a pretty misleading headline, even by clickbait standards.

But like a good clickbait headline, bad information is there. The promise is that Eddie’s opinion of Pan is the most accurate out of countless critics. And anyone who reads this review, no matter their taste or background, will get the perfect insight into whether or not they should see Pan.

I’m going to guess that this review doesn’t accomplish any of that.

When you’re a child, you see the whole world around you in a new light.

New light? Or just new? You’re a kid, not a disenfranchised restaurant manager with an art degree who sees the Sistine Chapel for the first time.

From sights and sounds to tastes and smells, everything is brand new for you, and you can’t get enough of these new experiences. As you get older, those experiences lose their luster, and you tend to…well, grow up.

If only Pan had focused on even an inkling of this theme. But nope, it’s about a messiah who fulfills a prophecy because his mother’s name is Mary (subtle!)

But then something happens,

…Go on.

and you experience a movie that not only ignites the spark of imagination in your heart and in your spirit but also carries a great story that captivates the young at heart. 

Please be talking about Paddington. Please be talking about Paddington.

That’s what you get with the fantastical journey of pirates, Indians and flying in the movie called Pan.

You can’t tell, but I’m making a really grumpy face right now.

Also, they’re natives in this movie, not Indians. Get your lazy attempts to avoid racism by inexplicably whitewashing the characters straight .

Let’s get something straight,

Yes. This is a good idea…

this is a children’s film

Oh no, not this argument. Look, calling something a children’s film doesn’t excuse everything negative about it. We live in a post-Toy Story world, Eddie. Well, sort of (Toy Story 4 better be good).

And I wouldn’t argue with studio executives about who this movie is intended for. They want Pan to make as much money as possible, and parents don’t want to pay money to sit through a film with their kid that is widely panned (NO, I SAID IT).

This is a film that caters to the moviegoers who tentatively need a booster seat to see over the person in front of them.

Well, that’s just not true. The movie was certainly shooting for a preteen/young adult demographic, what with its special snowflake themes, bland protagonist, and mindless violence. Otherwise, it’s casually ripping off Harry Potter and other YA films by accident, and that’s certainly not the case.

Comparing these films to that of something like say X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hunger Games, or Scorch Trials is just ridiculous and naïve.

Was anyone expecting Pan to be like an X-Men movie? I mean, maybe X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but only in quality and due to the strange coincidence of Hugh Jackman being in another origin movie that probably shouldn’t exist.

How is it naïve to compare movies to other movies? Naiveté comes from a lack of experience, but if you’re comparing movies, then you’re showing that you understand the standard set by the genre. What’s actually naïve is claiming that Pan shouldn’t have to answer for its problems because it’s made for kids.

Sadly, many reviewers of the film are out there stating how it is “slapdash” and “ill-explained” and are forgetting that films like this aren’t made for everyone.

But your review is? That’s what the headline told me.

Look, I know what it’s like to enjoy a movie that other people hate. It happens. But assuming they’re the ones who are naïve is a bit…well, naïve

The target demographic is intended for children, which means that if you’re expecting something more mature, you’re not the target demographic.

No one was expecting a “mature” Peter Pan movie. That’s just silly. Plenty of people weren’t even expecting this movie to exist, and that’s certainly valid.

Personally, I was expecting a few things: good special effects (considering the talent involved), a decent story that set up Peter Pan as the character we know him (considering it’s an origin story for a well-known character), and music that matched the tone of the film.

We didn’t get any of those things. We got Nirvana and the Ramones. We also got some of the worst special effects and CGI of 2015 (especially for a blockbuster), and a movie that completely ignores what makes Peter Pan who he is as a character while playfully exploiting our nostalgia to artificially generate interest for its uninteresting characters.

to bash a film simply because you are not the targeted audience only shows how much of yourself you invested into the film. 

Nope! It just shows that the movie did a bad job at entertaining all audiences. That’s about it. And I don’t think it’s strange to be invested in a classic mythology that we all grew up with.

Ok. I’m done.

Yes. Finally.

Let’s get  to the review.

Grumpy face

Pan is a film that recounts the origin tale of J.M. Barrie’s classic storybook character, Peter Pan, and how he surpasses all obstacles including being an orphan, self-doubt, and the jaws of a massive crocodile, to finally realizing that it isn’t what other people say that makes you special, but what you believe about yourself.

Hmmm, I don’t recall that EVER being a theme in a Peter Pan story. In fact, he’s typically a villain. Wendy is the true protagonist in these stories, and she is typically the moral center who convinces the amoral Peter Pan to commit acts of heroism.

And sorry, but this “you’re special because you believe in yourself” drivel is way too played out to take seriously. It’s not compelling, it’s overdone. It’s not a good message because it reinforces the idea that what you decide to do is good because you decide it is, which is typically the precursor to a terrible decision you’re about to make.

You know what’s a good message for kids? It’s OK to be sad (Inside Out). Your family is what you make of it (Paddington). Don’t get eaten by dinosaurs (Jurassic World).

Pan chronicles the journey of Peter (Levi Miller) as an orphan, being left on the doorstep by a mysterious blonde who leaves a note,

Wait, so it’s worth noting that Peter is played by Levi Miller, a newcomer, but you won’t mention that his mother is played by Amanda Seyfried?

In the midst of war,

No need to be exact. It’s just the most significant war in recent memory, perhaps of all time.

Peter must realize his destiny and find that the true power of who he is.

…is? Does this sentence just end? Who is his power???

The film carries many great attributes

How do you carry an attribute?

starting with its ability to create a cast

How do you create a cast? Or read this? OK, I’m done with petty grammar stuff.

that builds a great story with their dialogue.

….alright, now I’m done.

Actor Levi Miller did an outstanding performance as Peter,

Really? Outstanding? You’re going to burst a vein, then, when you see Jacob Tremblay in The Room, or Abraham Attah in Beasts of No Nation.

His portrayal of a 12-13 year old boy is spot on, as most boys at this age aren’t sure of what they want, or which direction they’re going to go.

OK, I have to give Eddie credit for finding a way to explain why Levi Miller’s character is so bland in a way that sounds like a compliment. You’ll go far.

His acting ability surpasses many of other actors much older than him,

How? As in, “how did you arrive at this opinion?” Also, “how are we supposed to take this entire review seriously?”

as he is able to show the full spectrum of emotions while still being in control of the scene.

Anyone can show a full spectrum of emotions thanks to Sesame Street and puberty. What makes an actor great is when he can make those emotions come across as believable, like it’s really happening and you don’t have to think about it. Controlling a scene is a different job altogether because it’s about presence and timing.

Eddie goes on to compliment Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, and I’ll give him a pass on all that. Jackman certainly isn’t the worst thing about this movie, and I can understand a fan being charmed by his character.

Rooney Mara and Garrett Hedlund both are a great support for the main character for this film

Yeah, since Mara doesn’t show up until the second act and Hedlund spends most of his time acting like Han Solo, looking like Indiana Jones, and talking like Nicholas Cage on an “All That” sketch — while sort of following Peter around. The support is real.

There was much debate as to the casting of Mara in the role as Tiger Lily.

Please…let’s not go there. Eddie, I’m begging you.

The one thing that many people overlooked was what type of tribe was Tiger Lily from?

Uh. I mean, uh?

what if the tribe wasn’t a specific type of ethnicity, but a tribe of many ethnicities? The tribe that Tiger Lily belonged to in the film was filled with individuals from China, India, Europe, Africa, and etc!

Right! With a European-looking woman as their leader! Surely that won’t offend anyone.

To be honest, I don’t think this is a big deal. I went into Pan knowing that this would be odd, and it didn’t bother me as much as I thought I would. But that’s probably because everything about this movie is so bad, whitewashing ends up being one of the least of its problems.

The visuals in the film were very captivating.

Yeah, in a way. In the, “how does Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed look better than this?” way.

The visual effects team spared no expense

That’s part of the whole “flop” problem.

and took the time to creating breathtaking mermaids who assist in getting Peter and his team to the other side of the river.

Took their time? Cara Delevingne plays all four mermaids. And they’re only onscreen for about two minutes. And they don’t say anything. And they look fake. And they only help Peter while Hook and Tiger Lily watch…

Overall, the film was exactly what it set out to be: a great children’s film, retelling the courageous tale of the boy who never grew up.

…in a version of Neverland where everyone grows up (the main plot is that Blackbeard is aging and wants to keep himself young, which shouldn’t even be a problem in a place like Neverland).

And understand one thing: I’m not saying that other websites and reviewers are wrong,

But you are.

I’m only saying that some are forgetting the one key thing about this film: it was made for children.

So it’s telling that they don’t even want to subject their kids to this.

I’ll just say this one more time for emphasis: a movie made for children doesn’t have to be bad. Even if kids like it, that doesn’t make it good. It just makes Pan an expensive babysitter.

going in to see the film, I recognized right away where all the children were sitting, so that I could get a chance to see their faces when they saw incredible things in the theater.

I don’t think I’m qualified to comment on this.

I spent about as much time watching the film as I did seeing the reactions, and it was not without reward.

So you admit you only saw half of the movie?

The look of sheer excitement as the ships were fighting in mid-air, the shining ear-to-ear smiles from seeing fairies,

They were impressed by those floating CGI lens flares without any sort of physical form? I mean, I was sort of impressed when Peter used them as a Kamehameha, but only because it’s incredible how much source material they managed to rip off in under two hours.

I sat next to a small girl named Layla, and she was so excited after the film, that she got up, turned to her mom after the movie, and with a big smile on her face, asked, “Was this a story, mom? Can we go find it?” Many kids arose from their seats, jittering with elation, unaware of the world outside the theater, and the homes they will be going back to. This film gave them a piece of hope, even if it was just for about two hours. That’s why Pan was made. Giving bravery and courage back to our children, and seeing that even though the world is big and sometimes scary, we each hold the power to be greater than it, and in the end, overcome it.

Seriously, guy, this isn’t Shawshank Redemption. Are we really supposed to take this anecdote about how strangely attentive Eddie is to other people’s children as verification that a bad movie can be good because Layla wants to know if it’s a story?

Pan is a terrible movie. It just is. But like most terrible movies, it will find its audience, no matter how small. So if you love Pan, that’s totally fine and I’m glad that you left the theater feeling like you got your money’s worth.

But don’t try to tell everyone else in the most condescending way possible that they did get their money’s worth because it lightly entertained a bunch of kids that you were paying (probably) too much attention. Our standard for all films, no matter the genre, needs to be much higher than that.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Snarcasm: ‘Inside Out’ Was Just So Disappointing

inside out disappointing

“Snarcasm” is a new editorial series about a mild-mannered film blogger who goes head-to-head with other silly bloggers. Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read. 

This week, we’re examining Chris Sawin’s Examiner review of Pixar’s latest film, Inside Out.

Spoiler alert: he gave the film a 5/10. I’m guessing he can’t even.

Sawin kicks off his review with the headline, “‘Inside Out’ is an underwhelming yet clever effort from Pixar.” I guess you could say it’s…cleverly underwhelming? Probably not.

But as Riley’s parents decide to move from Minnesota to San Francisco, Riley is taken from everything she once knew and thrown into a strange place with no friends.

So, Examiner.com?

Sawin gives a pretty exhaustive synopsis of the film at this point, then mentions “Lava” as the short that precedes the movie.

The short is a decent representation of what you should prepare yourself for when it comes to the appreciation and enjoyment factors of “Inside Out;”

Oh, so t’s beautifully animated and filled with rich characters you find easy to love thanks to a well-written script?

inside out disappointing

it’s mildly amusing and cute but nothing great.

Oh.

The theme of Sawin’s review, by the way, is that no matter how good you are at something, it’s not “great” because Sawin says so. Let’s continue.

What the film fails to do is capitalize on the Pixar reputation of affecting a wide range of your emotions throughout its duration.

So, five emotions aren’t enough? I have a feeling that Sawin would have otherwise complained that there were too many emotions and not enough focus.

Also, since when do Pixar movies have to affect a lot of different emotions? They usually go for humor and drama. Am I supposed to be more angry and disgusted while watching Pixar movies?

but the bottom line is “Inside Out” is often lethargic to a frustrating extent.

I’m pretty sure calling Inside Out sluggish is akin to calling There Will Be Blood a romantic comedy. The film immediately cuts to the chase, with the main problem of the movie (Riley’s move) occurring as the title screen pops up. And this is in the first five minutes.

Honestly, I have no idea what Sawin is getting at when he calls the film lethargic. From my perspective, every scene moves at a brisk pace, especially the action, without forgetting it has a new world to build that won’t go over your head. There were very few moments of downtime.

Each Pixar film is usually distinctly different than the last.

I’m guessing that “usually” applies to sequels.

“Inside Out” is the first film where the character designs of the humans in the film remind you of “Toy Story” or certain elements of the story or visuals are reminiscent of “Up.”

Well, yeah. How is that a bad thing? In order to easily distinguish between the human world and the mind world, the visual artists had to conceive of humans who felt familiar. What better way than to use techniques learned from the successful Toy Story franchise?

And to be fair, Monsters Inc., and its prequel also share human characters with similar visual styles. Same with Finding Nemo. I’d even argue that the humans of WALL-E look a lot like humans you’d see in Ratatouille or The Incredibles. There’s even an old lady in Ratatouille who looks just like Geri from Toy Story, but with a shotgun.

inside out disappointing

Maybe it has something to do with how these characters show up in different movies all the time? Nope! Sawin calls it lethargic.

Imagination Land, which is a personal favorite segment from “Inside Out,” has you remembering your favorite moments from “Wreck-It Ralph,” even though it wasn’t a Pixar film.

Right, with all of the video games and the…uh…oh, well I suppose it almost looks like “Sugar Rush Speedway” sometimes…barely…not at all, really.

But unlike Sawin, I’ll actually support my argument. Here’s an image of Sugar Rush Speedway:

sugar rush speedway

Alright, now here’s an image of Imagination Land from Inside Out.

inside out imagination land

Oh, wait. That doesn’t work. OK, try this one:

inside out imagination land

Hm, that doesn’t work either. There’s just a bunch of relevant objects related to things Riley imagines. Well, let’s try this one!

inside out imagination land

Ha! See, there’s a castle just like…oh, that doesn’t look like the Sugar Rush castle. Wait, wait, I’ve found it. Here it is!

inside out imagination land

See! In this image, there are flowers. And in the Wreck-It Ralph image, there’s a lollipop with a flower pattern on it! Case closed!

“Inside Out” is innovative, but it’s not idiosyncratic enough to fully develop its own personality.

So it’s both innovative and more of the same. I’m pretty sure that’s a paradox.

Also, how idiosyncratic does it have to be in order to have its own personality that is fully developed? I’m guessing that by your standards, it has to be completely, 100% original. But how many other movies actually achieve this? Why is Inside Out being held to this impossible standard?

Sawin is clearly ignoring the scope of Inside Out, of course. This film covers a wide range of different sets, characters styles, and unique settings. Finding Nemo is the only other Pixar movie I can think of with this much diversity in its settings. So of course you can cherry pick a couple of locations that remind you of other Pixar films.

The animation seems to shine the brightest during the abstract stages sequence. It’s so much more quirky and eccentric than the rest of the film.

How is one sequence being “good” mean that the others are “bad?” Shouldn’t you be praising Inside Out for how good this scene is?

While the animation is as excellent as ever the character designs seem a step or two below what Pixar is known for.

Examples? Or are you going to support yet another assertion with yet another assertion?

All of the emotions appear to be designed for a film that was forced to go directly to DVD, which then made a B-line for the clearance rack.

Wow. How so?

Most characters in the film appear to be apathetic

In other words, “lethargic.”

OK, so Sawin doesn’t like the appearance of the emotions. He’s not “wrong” since this is an opinion based on his personal tastes. The problem, obviously, is that he has nothing objective to compare them to.

inside out disappointing

Personally, I find their designs genius. Like Up, they have their own shape language (Joy represents a star, Sadness is a teardrop, etc.) Additionally, they used color language to drive home the impact of the emotions with their prescribed color palette. And they’re designs were deliberately given an abstract shape so that they could move within their world by a set of different rules and physics because they’re inside of the mind. It’s subtle, but effective.

Even if you don’t find their designs very pleasing to the eye, it’s unfair to ignore how aggressively original they are. But in the same review where Sawin complains about the characters not being unique enough, they’re too unique.

and are therefore already not interesting before they even open their mouths.

You heard it here first. A character who embodies anger and is voiced by Lewis Black is “uninteresting.”

Dull character designs aren’t usually something you throw into the same sentence as “Pixar.”

That’s probably because no one else is.

The humor is also below any sort of standard comedies in general should have.

Standard comedies? Can you at least give an example of what you consider to be a—

Most of it will barely force a chuckle out of you

Sigh.

Most gags like the Tripledent Gum jingle are humorous at first, but are run into the ground early on.

OK, so the joke about an annoying, recurring jingle eventually gets annoying because it’s recurring. Got it.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that joke is only referenced two or three times.

Other times it feels like the film is simply trying too hard to cater to the humor of an eight year old or the kid in all of us that it completely overlooks aiming for adult humor.

Can I say that bad word, now?

One might make the argument that Anger’s constant jabs at possibly using curse words is rather adult, but it seems too easy and too juvenile for Pixar.

Right, because we celebrate the humor of Toy Story and Finding Nemo because they had so many adult jokes. Just keep swimming, Sawin.

inside out disappointing

Of course, Inside Out has a good amount of jokes that go over the heads of an eight-year-old. A standout is Bing Bong nonchalantly mixing a box of “facts” with a box of “opinions.” And Riley’s mom fantasizing about an affair…ah, never mind.

While none of us enjoy being sad, “Inside Out” utilizes how important sadness is to our daily lives. You need a steady emotional balance to take on growing up and the rest of your life and “Inside Out” approaches handles those elements extremely well.

Keep in mind that this is one of the many instances throughout the review where Sawin gives the film high praise. Yet it’s still a 5/10.

The animated comedy is imaginative, but it lacks laugh out loud humor and its lazy animation is disheartening.

Lazy animation? Earlier, you wrote that it was excellent.

Pixar films are known to pack an emotional punch and “Inside Out” doesn’t have any of that.

I’m starting to think Sawin didn’t watch this movie.

All it has to offer is a misguided beating heart that is visually displeasing.

But…earlier you said that it was imaginative. And you said the animation was excellent. And you said the film utilizes important themes. And that it handles its story extremely well. But now it’s misguided?

Look, Inside Out isn’t a perfect movie. And plenty of Sawin’s complaints are valid because they’re subjective. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it.

The problem with this review, however, is that he offers no basis or reasoning for his critique. It’s just one opinionated assertion after another, and he doesn’t offer the film any credit for the very things he praises (then eventually derides).

In other words, the only lazy thing about Inside Out that I’ve come across is this review.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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