Parenting

How is Alice in Wonderland a movie for kids?

I’m not what you would call a prudish parent. I definitely wouldn’t fall too much on the liberal side either. But when I was watching Alice in Wonderland yesterday, I kept thinking to myself ‘how is this a kids movie?!?’ First of all, the heroine is a young girl who is more focused on dreaming of a world of absurdity than paying attention to her studies. Ok. That’s pretty normal. She then chooses to venture deep, deep into a hole underground by herself. I am all for adventure, but she even states out loud that she is choosing to do something she knows she shouldn’t. When she gets to Wonderland…all bets are off. She eats things that say ‘eat me’ and drinks things that say ‘drink me’ having no idea who or what put them there or wrote those signs. There are an untold number of strangers she encounters and seems to have no problem both talking to or following their advice. One is a hooka-smoking caterpillar who blows smoke letters into her face as they converse. Then she goes to a party with a pair of crazy dudes completely unchaperoned and allows them to make her drinks. Definitely not safe. All in all, she pretty much goes against everything that I have and probably will eventually ever teach my daughter. And in the end, there are no consequences for Alice. Not even a cheesy, ‘love is the answer’ to wrap it in a nice package.

Then there is the Queen of Hearts. This woman is different than the majority of other Disney villains as she has numerous people murdered over the course of the film. She just doesn’t only try to kill Alice, she flippantly sends many people to get their heads cut off. There is one scene before she even appears on screen where characters are discussing her predilection for decapitation and graphically use red paint to drive the point home. Huh? Queue the nightmares for my little dreamers…

Ok, so I get that all of this is in the book the movie is based on. But that doesn’t make it any better, does it? If we used that logic then we shouldn’t be upset or surprised if we don’t soon see Disney’s 101 Shades of Grey coming to a theatre near you!

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Image Credit —> nerdlikeyou.com

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What’s the Deal with Ursula?

Am I the only one who has an endless amount of questions about Ursula? When you first meet this octo-witch, you kind of take everything about her at face value. But when you start to dig a little deeper, the water gets more and more murky. First of all, she used to live in the palace. Did you catch her mentioning that when she was spying on Ariel? She didn’t just visit the palace, she lived there. Was she part of Triton’s council? Was she in politics? She obviously has to know something about the Oceanic legal system as she was able to best Triton with a legal document. For some reason, she ends up getting banished. I think we can all assume that her exile had something to do with her spells and general evilness. But none of that bothers me as much as the fact that she is part octopus. All the other half human creatures in Triton’s kingdom, that we see anyway, are half-fish. You don’t see any other shark-boys or seal-ladies floating around. Are we to assume that Ursula was changed into her current self by some sort of irreversible spell? Or could it be that she was an anomaly in the kingdom. A mutant of sorts. Could it be that she was looked upon differently her whole life because she had something different going on down below? Maybe she also ate her feelings which lead to her less than healthy physical state. Her appearance is definitely an issue she struggles with regardless of  if it was enchantment or genetic. She didn’t seem too keen on merpeeps who want to change something about their physical appearance.  Could it be jealousy? Remember the ugly merpeople she makes pretty only to have them become part of her living garden? I know every movie needs a villain but maybe she is not the one who is truly at fault here. What about the merparents out there that are obviously not educating their children about the direct link between the rash of local disappearances and a visit with Ursula? Maybe she is doing the ocean a favor by weeding out the stupider merfolk. I we could chalk this up to survival of the…unfittest?

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Image Credit: disney.wikia.com

Who hired these guys?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the lack of accountability for the castle guards in the movie Aladdin. While they were severely lacking in morals & loyalty, they are not the only protectors of the realm that need some serious additional training. If you’ve watched Tangled, you will know what I mean. I don’t think I have ever seen more consistent incompetence among a group of men then I do from this squad. It seems that the only thing they are good at is not protecting the kingdom or the royal family. Let’s review their track record. First, they allow an elderly woman to scale the castle walls and kidnap the baby Princess. While I am not sure how Mother Gothel would have made it up to the balcony in the first place due to her advanced state, someone should have seen her performing this feat from one of their guard-posts. But no one did. Then after the crime is committed, these geniuses are somehow unable to find a tower housing the child in the middle of the woods within walking distance of the castle. Surely they would have scoured every inch of the countryside, right? I guess not. Later on, this same band of merry men allow Flynn and the Dynamic Duo to steal the most treasured royal possession, the lost princess’s crown, right from under their noses…literally. But they end up redeeming themselves right? Nope. They are comically thwarted by a band of thugs who not only break Flynn out of prison but elude capture themselves in the process. It almost makes me wish that Rapunzel wouldn’t have been returned to the King & Queen. If the King is willing to allow such shabby work from those sworn to protect him and his family, I’m not sure what type of strong parental figure he really is. Maybe she is better off without them. I’m serious…I mean, he ends up putting a horse in charge of his entire royal force at the end of the movie and arms them all with frying pans….

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Image Credit: disney.wikia.com

Are there skeletons in this Royal’s closet?

Duchess & Thomas O'MalleyNot sure how this film got into our collection. It was not one that I grew up watching so I know that I didn’t buy it for my kids. Most likely it was one of their grandparents that slipped it in when I wasn’t around. Regardless, The Artistocats has quickly become one of my daughter’s favorite Disney movies. It does, like most Disney movies, have some catchy tunes and fun characters but I must say I get bored a little to quickly with it. That being said, there is one thing that always kind of bugged me. If you don’t know the story, Duchess is a ‘long-haired purebred white Turkish Angora cat‘ who lives with her three kittens and a rich retired opera singer who is slightly mental. I say that because the old woman plans to change her will to leave all her money to her cats when she dies.

The AristocatsDuchess is a single parent. This is not necessarily a major plot point unlike most Disney movies, save for the fact that it opens her up to finding love at the end. However, this fact raises some major questions with me as to who is the father of her three kittens–two of which look nothing like her? Do we need to call Maury? Her daughter, Marie, is the spitting image of her while Toulouse is completely orange and Berlioz is completely black. I am not a cat expert, so I had to do some Googling on this one and I wasn’t pleased with the results. One site I found said that if kittens from the same litter look markedly different, it is often because they have different fathers. Oops! Looks like the cat might be out of the bag for ole’ Duchess. She acts so prim and proper and talks about being a lady when it seems that she might have been on the prowl in the not too distant past. Another theory is that the father could have potentially been a mixed-breed cat which could explain the sibling differences. Yet, I don’t see how Duchess could have encountered such a cat. She is a pure-breed and would most likely only be surrounded by other purebreds for the purposes of breeding. So such an encounter with that type of cat would had to have been on the sly. I mean, she only ends us meeting Thomas O’Malley, ‘The Alley Cat,’ because she is kidnapped. But, who knows? Maybe this wasn’t the first time she had met Mr. O’Malley…Toulouse does bear a striking resemblance to him after all…

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Image & Quote Credit: disney.wikia.com

Was Elsa’s Dad So Wrong?

For a character that is in so little of the actual movie, Elsa’s father in Frozen has gotten raked across the coals by numerous movie reviewers for many of his parenting decisions. His daughter doesn’t hold back either. ‘Conceal, don’t feel‘ and ‘Be the Good Girl‘ are shouted by Elsa during the song Let it Go as she is finally able to be who she truly is now that her dad is gone. This becomes the anthem of the movie promoting not being afraid to be different and never having to hide who you are. As a dad, I get the outrage against his actions, but what if Elsa’s father was thinking less like a dad here and more like a King?

King of Arendelle

When The King & Queen take Elsa & Anna to see the rock trolls, the Troll King lays it out pretty well for the family. Elsa’s got lots of power and it will be bad if she is controlled by fear. However, it seems like Elsa’s dad puts on earmuffs during this conversation as all of his guidelines and advice from that point forward only help to create fear in his daughter ultimately contributing to the craziness later in the film. But isn’t what happens at her coronation most likely what her Dad was afraid of? Not the revealing her powers part but the creating fear in others part. Because Elsa showing the world her powers doesn’t just put her at risk but the entire kingdom of Arendelle! (stick with me, I’ll explain why) I propose The King may have been putting his family’s legacy above his family, and isn’t that what Kings are supposed to do?

Let’s look at the coronation. When everything goes south and she freezes Arendelle, the first reaction of all the guests is fear. You can attribute this to the scale of the Elsa’s actions or just the simple fact that she can do it at all. In general, people fear what they do not understand and it’s not a stretch to think everyone wouldn’t understand this situation. Even if she had control of her powers and made everyone snow cones at the coronation ball, I bet that more than one person would still have been terrified because of the sheer implications of this skill. News would spread like wildfire across the neighboring regions: Did you hear that Queen Elsa of Arendelle can make snow cones from her hands? What else could she do? Could she freeze a lake? What about our ships? Could she create snow monsters? Could this be used to hurt us? Are there other people in Arendelle that have ice powers? What about Anna? Something has to be done about this right away! Uncertainty would lead to fear and fear would lead to a cold war. Attempts would be made on Elsa’s life and maybe even an all out war on the Kingdom just so everyone could feel safe again. Think of it like one country having nukes and every other country just being ok with not having them…it wouldn’t happen. The King had to have thought about that possibility. No doubt, he definitely could have made some better choices as a father so his daughters wouldn’t have so many daddy issues, but as a King, I think he may have gotten it right.

Do you think we should cut the belated King some slack here? Or was he cold as ice, willing to sacrifice…his daughter?

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More to come. Follow me here –> @DadsQuestions

Image Credits: disney.wikia.com

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Related: Maybe that’s why Eugene & Rapunzel didn’t want to get involved.

Too Entangled in Captivity?

My daughter is 4 years old. One thing I am focused on as a father is helping her to become a strong, independent thoughtful & caring person. I’ve read some parenting books. I discuss fatherhood with other dads. I try to keep the long term in mind for her without getting so focused on every little detail. But based on the movie Tangled, all I need to do for my daughter to reach these lofty character goals is to lock her in a tower until she is 18 and only let her interact with a self-absorbed woman who is solely focused on her own appearance.

rapunzel

Come on, we all know that Rapunzel would be crazy right? It’s not just me, is it? From birth, this girl has been locked in a tower by Mother Gothel who won’t let her cut her hair or even speak to another living person. Sure, she has ‘kept busy’ during her imprisonment with hobbies like reading books, painting, baking, playing guitar, sewing, knitting and even a spot of ventriloquism for good measure. But she has learned to do them either on her own or possibly with the help of her jailor. She has basically lived one step above solitary confinement for her entire life. That coupled with the realization she is the lost princess and her mother is actually her kidnapper would most likely push her over the edge. And even if she was able to brush that off, her mind would be so tangled making it nearly impossible for her to function properly outside of the confines of that tower for a long, long time.

That being said, if Mother Gothel wrote a parenting book I would definitely give it a read. She may be a murderous, narcissistic kidnapper but she might be able to help get my daughter into Juilliard.

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More to come. Follow me here: @DadsQuestions

Image Credit: chrislejarzar.wordpress.com