Monday, May 5, 2014

Real human trumps cartoon rabbit

Easter is still going on in our house. My older son still has a few chocolate eggs remaining, which are being doled out at intervals in accordance with his good behavior (which makes the intervals not all that frequent), and I myself ate half of a large white chocolate bunny last night while trying to stay awake during my viewing of High Art. (Didn't work; I had to fall asleep for two hours and finish after midnight.)

Earlier yesterday we continued Easter in a non-food-related manner by watching the movie Hop from 2011. I'd heard terrible things, but when I saw it at the library on Thursday, I knew it would be a good way to distract my son -- still Easter Bunny crazy -- with some morning viewing. I would watch it with him the first time (I had always expected to see it eventually), and then if it were a real hit, my wife could use it with him on either Tuesday or Wednesday morning when she's at home with him. We'd return it again on Thursday.

Surprisingly, I rather enjoyed the movie. Meanwhile, my son was bored.

See, the first moment of the movie that did not involve an animated rabbit provoked this response:

"Aw, this is a boring adult movie."

For the record, it was a scene in which human star James Marsden sits around a dining room table with John Heard, Elizabeth Perkins and Kaley Cuoco. It lasts all of about three minutes, but they're three crucial minutes in terms of getting in some rather efficient exposition that sets up the story's various conflicts. Then, back to animated rabbits.

To its credit, Hop goes very few stretches again in which the animated rabbit (called E.B., voice of Russell Brand) doesn't make an appearance. Unfortunately, the presence of live-action human beings seems to have permanently tainted it as a "boring adult movie" for my son, no matter how frequently the rabbit appears digitally inserted into the live-action environment. (The seamless insertion of, and interaction with, this rabbit was one of the things that impressed me about Hop.)

I tried to explain to my son that Hop was like Stuart Little, a movie he's seen a couple times, in that it has both real people and cartoon animals. He was hit with a lightning bolt of understanding that was accompanied by the word "Oh" changing octaves a couple times.

Which got him to pay attention for exactly 43 more seconds.

This would make a better post if I had had to finish the movie by myself later on, which happened recently with the likes of Epic, Monsters University and Turbo. As it turned out, after a ten-minute break around the 55-minute mark in which it seemed like I had lost him entirely, we did resume and finish the movie without incident. He actually paid attention rather closely. I have to say, though, I just think his morning burst of spastic behavior had burnt itself out.

What's interesting to me is how a movie can be so clearly aimed at him -- including the Easter Bunny, of all things -- and yet certain aspects of it can cause him to check out entirely. The makers of Hop were undoubtedly aware that this kind of thing can happen with children, which is why they limited the sections that featured only human beings.

Who would have thought, though, that Hop's biggest problem would be that it wasn't child-friendly enough?

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