Written and Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Starring Short People

Poor Bill Had To Actually Watch This

When I was four or five I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and I must say I was shocked and scared by the story. It was fun, but somewhat creepy and it actually stirred emotion while keeping me entertained. The thing is, I watch the movie now and it brings me right back to the first time I saw it. Yeah, it a movie for kids, but it doesn’t make assumptions that kids only want to watch television type entertainment.

The same goes for teen movies. If kids and teens are assumed to be morons, how can they ever get out of this rut? Last summer I taught a filmmaking class to a day camp class of 10 through 12 year olds. I showed them El Mariachi, they loved it. Sure it’s probably a little more violent than what their parents expect, but I just thought of big fat Agustus Gloop getting sucked up the chocolate pipe to an uncertain death I felt these kids could handle it.

Anyhow, they loved it, even though it had no special effects, looked grainy and they had to read subtitles. So, the question is, if a talented director like Rodriguez can make a film like El Mariachi, which is really corny, yet loveable why does his big budget “kids movie” have to fall so freaking flat? This is just a live animation cartoon, there are a few good gags, but they don’t make up for the lack of personality displayed. It’s the same old action corn action and it lacks any build of emotion that is needed to make good suspense. Be careful, don;t wanna lose anyones 10 second attention span now.

I’ll blame the studios on this one. The reason is not because kids want to be subject to condescending films, but their stupid parents will get very upset if their kids can follow a movie that they can’t. If the parents feel threatened by a film their kids like, it could be a problem at the box office.

The fact is, every “kids” movie is an instant cash machine in these days of latch key kids and Ritalin. Why not make it really good as well. So, take the kids to see Spider-Man or Lord of the Rings. At least when they get older they’ll watch it again on another level and not feel robbed of an intelligent childhood.

DVD Extras

Nothing ‘cept glitzy menus, sort of like the whole film.

Ruthless Ratings:

  • Overall: 3
  • Acting: 2
  • Direction: 5
  • Story: 3 (at least it resorts to some bathroom humor)
  • Casting: 5
  • Rewatchability: 0

Ruthless Special Ratings:

  • Number of times someone drew a gun : 0
  • Number of times I drew a gun: 2
  • Number of times I wondered why the little girl changed into a tiny tank top: 30
  • Number of times I thought about how bad my eyes are getting after I realized it was just a 2 tone tan on the bottom shirt: 5
  • Number of times I wished Cheech Marin had more screen time: 90 (every freakin minutes of the movie)
  • Number of times I assured myself it was still better than The Faculty : 10
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