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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-09-2013, 06:19 AM Thread Starter
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What did Finding Nemo and Shrek do right that PG-Raw does wrong?

In trying to appeal to both kids and adults Shrek and Finding Nemo were historic in their big success.

What did these movies do right that PG-Raw doesn't?

Here is bbc:
You might be forgiven for thinking children's films are for children and adults have their own films. But 2009 - with the likes of Up and Where the Wild Things Are - has seen the triumph of the trend towards making children's films that speak to grown-ups too.

Anyone who has ever ventured into a children's Saturday matinee will recognise the following.

A hubbub. Not like that at pub or party, but a persistent susurration as children ask "Mummy, why is the fox friends with the rabbit?" and riffle their popcorn like a prospector panning for gold.

Above this child-centred cacophony is the film, and how the adult custodians feel about that film defines whether or not they are happy to brave this whispered maelstrom to see the sequel in 18 months time. CHILDREN MAY NOT NOTICE...
The Lion King: echoes of Hamlet
Chicken Run: loose parody of The Great Escape
Wall-E: Wall-E and shiny white robot Eve make noise like Apple Mac booting
The Incredibles: discussion of dangers of baddies 'monologuing' and allowing hero to escape
Up: the old man is styled to look like Spencer Tracy
Finding Nemo: seagull scene echoes Hitchcock's The Birds

The Hollywood moguls didn't get where they are without being aware that the ultimate film is one that audiences of every age and type can sit through.

If the adults think there is something in it for them, they may even be more sympathetic to the shameless wave of merchandising aimed at their pestering offspring.

In recent years, this has led to "children's" films being replete with the kind of jokes that adults know are aimed at them. A green ogre voiced by Mike Myers in 2001 was a notable example.

"Shrek was seized upon as a turning point in that it had very definitely one kind of a text for kids and definitely a subtext for adults," says Justin Johnson, head of the Children's Film Programme at the British Film Institute.

Shrek was not the first to have jokes aimed at adults, but the sheer volume and the self-consciousness of the tactic stood out to reviewers.

The earlier Toy Story movies had contained jokes that would have been lost on children, particularly in the form of references to other films.
John Lasseter has been one of the key figures in Pixar's success

In Toy Story 2, the scenes where Rex is seen in the rear view mirror pursuing the jeep in a parody of Jurassic Park, or the part where Zurg falls down the shaft a la Return of the Jedi, are going to be missed by many children.

And in the first Toy Story film, Buzz Lightyear's existential crisis after he discovers he is "just" a toy, is a profoundly adult theme.

In Finding Nemo, there is a double layer joke in the idea that sharks could form an Alcoholics Anonymous-style group to help them give up fish. The fact that this diet would be deleterious to real sharks is supposed to provoke a further internal chuckle.

This year's Up represented a high water mark for the tactic, says Tony Earnshaw, head of film programming at the National Media Museum.

"There are so many layers to that film. It is more than just a standard cartoon or animated movie."

There has to be a smorgasbord of appeal in these modern family films to keep the adults interested, he says.

"If there isn't, all they can do is listen to the kids crunch popcorn and slurp their drinks." No matter how many references you hang around them if you haven't got a good story you haven't got a good film

Justin Johnson

It is not just pure animations that blur the boundaries.

Much of the critics' reception for the Spike Jonze's adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are seems to centre on the idea that it is not really a children's story at all.

Jonze seemed to confirm it himself when he told an American newspaper: "The main goal wasn't to make a children's movie. I wanted to make a movie about childhood."

Perhaps such an approach is inevitable when adults are asked to adapt a work that was important to them in their childhood.

There is certainly a question of what is a children's film. Are there, in fact, only "family" films? Why is there a presumption that an animation is aimed at children, unless demonstrated otherwise?

Ayn Rand?

The Incredibles, released in 2004, satirises the litigiousness of US society, as those saved by superheroes take legal action against them, forcing their saviours into an equivalent of the witness protection programme.

Adherents of the individualist thinker Ayn Rand analysed the movie through the prism of her philosophy, noting that the film appears to attack the oppressive egalitarianism that forces superheroes to disguise their powers.

In The Incredibles, the superhero mother tells her son: "Everyone's special." He replies sotto voce: "Which is another way of saying no one is."

For many this Pseuds Corner type analysis of an animated family comedy is just a bit too much. And there are also films that have been criticised for going too far in their attempts to amuse the adults in the audience.

After the success of Shrek, the sequel has a sight gag allusion to the beach kissing scene in From Here to Eternity early on and proceeds with a slew of references from there, including the notion of Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), having a poster of Justin Timberlake (Diaz's then boyfriend).

But by Shrek the Third, some may be getting a bit worn out by the grown-up cultural references.
The Simpsons was a cartoon for adults from the start

"By Shrek the Third, the films got outdated - the references were so contemporary," says Mr Johnson. One can't imagine watching in 30 years time and it all still working.

Some questioned why 2004's Shark Tale was constructed around references to The Godfather. "They were building the film around their voice cast," says Mr Johnson.

He says that when the pop references are done well, they are unobtrusive to the watching children and those adults who are slow on the uptake.

"It's very covert. It isn't a kind of showstopper. Shrek the Third was just one gag after another.

"In terms of the fundamental good family film, the story is absolutely the driver. No matter how many references you hang around them if you haven't got a good story you haven't got a good film."

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-09-2013, 06:24 AM
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Re: What did Finding Nemo and Shrek do right that PG-Raw does wrong?

It isn't three hours EVERY WEEK on monday. Would you watch the same movie or the sequel every week for three hours?
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