Friday, April 20, 2007

A "Kiddie Medium"?

This is the kind of observation that drives me up a tree:

“CGI is getting hampered by being defined as a ‘kiddie’ medium,” said “TMNT” writer/director Kevin Munroe in an interview with Adam Fendelman.

Rather than solely because their kids lugged them to the movies, he envisions adults also flocking to engage the high-tech, highly immersive medium for themselves.

“In this small step with the [Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles], you start to show that there’s a broader audience for it than just kids – when it’s done right,” Munroe said. “I’d love to be in the position where eventually we’d have an R-rated CGI horror or fantasy film.”

Just a question, Mr. Munroe. Who the hell is defining CGI -- or any other kind of animation -- as a "kiddie medium"? Not John Lasseter. Not Walt Disney when he was alive. Not any self-respecting animation artist that I know. Only you. In that interview.

Apparently you missed the "immersive" qualities of smaller, more modest productions like Finding Nemo, Shrek II and in an earlier, simpler time, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White.

You know what makes animation a "kiddie medium?" It's myopic directors and/or executives who think of animated film and describe it as a "kiddie medium." And are idiotic enough to wave off one of the more powerful forms of filmed entertainment over the, oh, last seventy years as "stuff to babysit the eight-year-olds with."

I've heard this sort of dim-bulb mantra from various execs for as long as I've been in the industry: "We've only got the pre-schoolers..." "We're just baby-sitters," "We're catering to elementary school kids..." But that kind of thinking is as wrong-headed now as when I started. When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released and became the highest grossing film in American film history, I seriously doubt that anybody at Walt's Hyperion studio was walking around muttering: "This is a kiddie medium..."

When "Beauty and the Beast" grosses $145 million domestic, when Shrek II earns over $400 million at the American box office, or Finding Nemo collects $350 million, then I'm sorry, but those flicks aren't "kiddie films" or designed for infants, or whatever. They're created to entertain and enrich everybody. To immerse, if you will, both young and old.

They couldn't make hundreds of millions of dollars if they didn't.

So. Contrary to Kevin Munroe's claim, nobody who's got any brains is calling animated features (or shorts) a "kiddie medium." Munroe is just setting up a straw man that he can heroically knock down with totally new and exciting blockbusters like TMNT.


Steve Hulett said...

We accidentally had comments turned off on this post for a few hours. But it's all better now.

Anonymous said...

I think you grossly misinterpreted Mr. Munroe's point. He's merely observing that in general, animation is considered "for kids" by a pretty high percentage of people over 15. Animation fans like us know better, but that doesn't mean everyone else is so enlightened.

And TMNT was a great style change from a lot of recent offerings. Dark and gritty look, heavy on the action... Of course, it was hamstrung by being obligated to be a PG film... Munroe wanted to go PG-13. Plus the fact that the public also thinks TMNT started as a goofy 'toon in the '80s and keeps it pigeonholed to that kid audience.

Was TMNT perfect? Far from it. The whole monster part of the story was pure cheese. But it did a great job exploring some of the family dynamic of the Turtles, and it had some decent emotionally heavy scenes. And that's why I ended up liking it.

Did it break the "kiddie" barrier? I seriously doubt it. But it was at least a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

"I think you grossly misinterpreted Mr. Munroe's point. He's merely observing that in general, animation is considered "for kids" by a pretty high percentage of people over 15."

I completely agree. Munroe was commenting on the consensus of American public opinion on the matter and not stating a personal belief. You should give a little more thought to these things before you jump down someones throat...

Anonymous said...

Well, Munroe ought to start by making a good movie instead of peddling crap like tmnt, created only to sell crappy toys. It's more juvenile than most cartoons you might consider "kiddy."

Anonymous said...

I believe "Free Jimmy" is a contender fot the R rating...

Mr. Kevin Monroe is only being a little too eager to sell his movie. Who wouldn't?

Frases like “CGI is getting hampered by being defined as a ‘kiddie’ medium,” are commonly being used to sell yet another cg movie. It's just advertising. Like detergent. for more than 30 years now, they seem to come out with a new formula that leaves whites even whiter!! Wow...after 30 years or more, how much more can they really improve upon it? How much whiter can the shirt get?

Anyway, when it comes to features, advertising cliches like: "this movie is different from the rest for this and this reason..." are getting more and more common....

Mind you, I've only seen the trailers, so I can't say anything about the movie itself.


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