Political Content in this week’s new movies: Hot Tub Time Machine, How To Train Your Dragon, Chloe
1. Hot Tub Time Machine [Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language.]
summary from yahoo movies:
A group of best friends have become bored with their adult lives: Adam has been dumped by his girlfriend; Lou is a party guy who can’t find the party; Nick’s wife controls his every move; and video game-obsessed Jacob won’t leave his basement. After a crazy night of drinking in a ski resort hot tub, the men wake up, heads pounding, in the year 1986. This is their chance to kick some past and change their futures – one will find a new love life, one will learn to stand up for himself with the ladies, one will find his mojo, and one will make sure he still exists!
starring: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase, Lizzy Caplan, Collette Wolfe,
guy #1: you took your wife’s last name? you’re a hyphenate?
guy #2: a lot of dudes are doing it… it’s progressive!
once the guys arrive via hot-tub-time-machine into the eighties, one guy says something about “free love”… and another guy corrects him and says something like “no, that’s the sixties”… then John Cusack’s character says “we had, like, Reagan and AIDS”
one recurring bit throughout the movie involved a group of guys mistaking the main characters for “commie spies” after looking at a poster of “Red Dawn” and examining their modern accoutrements such as iPhones… and discovering a modern soft drink that they brought into the eighties entitled “Chernobly”…
2. How to Train Your Dragon [Rated PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language.]
summary from yahoo movies:
A Viking teenager who is being trained to fight dragons encounters and ultimately befriends one of the flying fire-breathers.
voiced by: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, David Tennant
from Kyle Smith:
You could say the 3-D animated kidpic “How To Train Your Dragon” is “Avatar” for simpletons. But that title is already taken, by “Avatar.” […]
This monster turns out to be a big friendly pet, a sort of bat-Labrador-kitty. He likes being scratched on the neck, he purrs, and his reaction when rolling around in a catnip-like grass is pure Cheech and Chong.
Gradually, Hiccup starts to learn the dragons’ ways, though he must keep this knowledge secret from the town where they’re the enemy. Hiccup also must participate in a dragon-slaying class, though he seems likely to apply for conscientious objector status.
If you can’t see that an allegory as blunt as a mace is coming at you, the 3-D glasses must have blurred your vision. […]
The one interesting aspect of the movie, apart from the design, is that it puts so much effort into projecting a moral, such as it is. Hiccup begins to think about a different approach to dragon-human relations.
Shouldn’t the dragon wars stop? Shouldn’t we all live together in a warm, friendly human-dragon commune? Hiccup tells the dragons, “Everything we know about you guys is wrong” and believes the beasts are not killers — “They defend themselves, that’s all.” Of his own folk, he says, “The food that grows here is tough and tasteless — the people, even more so.”
Hurrah for all this. Really, it’s never too soon to get your kids to accept that their own culture is pathetic — and that the alien one their society is at perpetual war with is really friendly, peace-loving and misunderstood. Hiccup may not be much of a dragon-slayer but in the sequel maybe he’ll go on to a brilliant career in the State Department.
Am I the only one who sees the real threat? Come on, Vikings of Berk, wake up. These dragons are fire-breathing carnivorous monsters. Have you thought about just how much carbon they emit?
But Hiccup doesn’t fit into this gung-ho crew, and as he retreats, his friendship with Toothless takes off. He comes to realize that everything he has been told about the nature of dragons is off-base. When he finally confronts his father with what he has learned, Stoick retorts: “But they’ve killed hundreds of our kind.” And Hiccup’s reply says it all: “And we’ve killed thousands of them.”
…How to Train Your Dragon struggles to rise to the challenge of hitching a red-blooded fantasy action-adventure to a huggy-kissy message that covers all antiwar and eco bases. Father and son, though inevitably scheduled for reciprocal self-actualization (brain, say hello to brawn, and vice versa), spend much of the movie at loggerheads because junior would rather fly around on, instead of slay, his newfound scaly friend, whose cute, big poonim bears an incongruous resemblance to the critter from Lilo & Stitch.
The multiple-authored screenplay is based very loosely on Cressida Cowell’s popular children’s books, but it owes just as much to E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and the John Lennon songbook. I half expected the kid to belt out Give Peace a Chance in his adenoidal twang.
Dragon also soars as an allegory for embracing what we fear most, a modern motif that allows the writing-directing pair Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders to deftly sneak in pointed observations of the previous U.S. administration’s use of fear-mongering.
It’s more coming-of-age dramedy or “everything about your world view is wrong” message movie than it is a comedy.
The Viking setting may be novel, but the movie itself isn’t particularly original. The plot is Pocahontas, but with dragons instead of Native Americans. Hiccup befriends a dragon and discovers that over-sized, fire-breathing reptiles are people too!
You could chalk this kid’s flick up as another manic Saturday-matinee time killer if it weren’t for a singularly impressive element. […] Rather, embedded among the standard platitudes of parental tolerance and teens finding their own way, is the notion that we should try to understand our “enemies” instead of engaging them in perpetual, passed-through-generations warfare. Imagine that! Such subversive notions in a family-friendly, franchise-ready movie will undoubtedly have Glenn Beck et al., decrying it as an example of Hollywood liberalism. Everyone else will wonder where this movie was during the lead-up to the mess(es) we’re in now.
The last, biggest problem — and I’m going to ruin the climax a bit — is that the theme of “we don’t have to kill dragons” is kind of undercut by the eventual solution to everyone’s problems, which is, you know, killing a gigantic dragon. I guess tolerance goes to the wayside when the subject is super-huge. Regardless, it’s a frustrating example of how the movie wants to have it both ways.
It’s how How to Train Your Dragon gets there that is so deeply pleasurable, embracing gentleness and smarts and empathy over aggression and force, yet never forgetting to be so cinematically exciting about it that it actually succeeds in rendering the scientific rationalism and the compassion that sits well together in Hiccup as something truly bracing.
What happens when you make friends with your enemy?/The animated “How to Train Your Dragon” asks that simple little question, but because it’s a simple little question on which the fate of our nonanimated world could one day hinge, it gives the comic fable heft and heart.
from David West in the comments:
I think you’re looking at “How to Train Your Dragon” all wrong. I thought it was a GREAT movie, and it may not have been the directors intent, but it actually ended up being a libertarian message wrapped in a kid friendly package.
Think about it. It was a combination of the Vikings’ interventionist foreign policy and the dragons’ oppressive, over taxing dictator that caused the conflict between the two species. What ended up being the resolution to this conflict?
Destroying the monstrous government-dragon that was TAXING the other dragons of their food. After the taxes ended the dragons were no longer oppressed and were able to engage in free trade with the Vikings, who had abandoned their interventionist foreign policy upon seeing the problems it creates. Food for the dragons, flight for the Vikings, taxes for no one! It’s the free market at its finest.
Was it the directors intent? Probably not. Is that how I described it to my 9 year old brother? Absolutely.
3. Chloe [Rated R for strong sexual content including graphic dialogue, nudity and language.]
summary from yahoo movies:
When Catherine, a successful doctor, begins to question her husband David’s fidelity, she sets out to resolve her suspicions with the help of an alluring young woman, Chloe. Soon caught in a web of …desire, Catherine finds herself on a journey that places her family in great danger.
directed by: Atom Egoyan
starring: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried,
Poli-Bits: [not playing near me]