FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

Hold on to your hats, peo­ple; it’s con­fes­sion time: I have never seen Frozen. I know what it is, of course – I’m not dead; but I do seem to have spent a con­sid­er­able amount of time over the past year or so apol­o­gis­ing to par­ents of younger chil­dren for not know­ing the nu­ances of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Elsa and Anna. Th­ese con­ver­sa­tions in­vari­ably end with another mother ad­vis­ing me that I “re­ally should see it,” to which I hap­pily re­spond by point­ing out that I re­ally don’t have to.

Like rings on a tree, you can mark the time in which an adult par­ented young chil­dren by the Dis­ney and Dreamworks films they’ve seen. There are peo­ple walk­ing around out there who can re­call ev­ery note of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King but will look at you askance when you men­tion Wreck It Ralph. If your kids grew up at the wrong time, it is quite pos­si­ble that you will have seen Toy Story 1 and 2 but not the third film (at the risk of echo­ing the Frozen moth­ers; you re­ally should though). I only saw Aladdin be­cause I was writ­ing a pan­tomime script and I’ve never seen Poc­a­hon­tas; but of­fer me a Dreamworks or Dis­ney movie that came out in the first 12 years of this cen­tury, and I’ll de­cline on the ba­sis that I’ve al­ready seen it.

Which is not to say that there weren’t some great movies in there. In fact, most of them were bril­liant. Work­ing on the ba­sis that I prob­a­bly saw six new chil­dren’s fea­tures a year over those dozen for­ma­tive ones, I have been to the cin­ema more than 70 times with my chil­dren and only a hand­ful of those films stank like old but­tered pop­corn. Chicken Lit­tle still owes me for the hour and a half it stole from my life, and I strug­gle to feel any love for Shark Tale, Wall E and How To Train Your Dragon. Rata­touille just man­aged to keep me en­gaged – though I still main­tain it’s one of the most stupid premises ever for a film – and (although it came from another stu­dio), I will never, ever for­give Johnny Depp for his aw­ful Wil­lie Wonka. On the other end of the scale, Find­ing Nemo! Up! Brave! Toy Story 3! All were stun­ning, up­lift­ing, heart-break­ing films,

Dur­ing the dozen years when I saw more than 70 new chil­dren’s films, I didn’t catch a sin­gle episode of The So­pra­nos

and if you’ve never seen them and you’ve no chil­dren, then for God’s sake, don’t bother. They are for chil­dren. That is the whole point.

And that’s why I haven’t seen Frozen. Sim­ply, I didn’t have to. The Youngest saw it with her best friend when it came out – the first time the pair had gone to the cin­ema to­gether un­ac­com­pa­nied. It was an ar­range­ment that suited me per­fectly; when she came home rav­ing about the movie and urg­ing me to see it, I made vague con­sent­ing noises, while all the time plot­ting to buy the box- set of Break­ing Bad. Be­cause that’s the catch: if you are keep­ing up with ev­ery chil­dren’s fea­ture that is un­leashed on the PG au­di­ence, then you sim­ply don’t have time for the grownup stuff. Dur­ing the time that I watch­ing more than 70 new chil­dren’s films, I never caught a sin­gle episode of The So­pra­nos. In the same time, if mem­ory serves, I saw just two adult fea­tures in the cin­ema. On the rare oc­ca­sions that I was dis­patched by The View to re­view a film, I had to make a men­tal note not to ask for 3D glasses.

And now I gather that par­ents are beat­ing each other up over Frozen dolls. “Now do you wish you’d seen it?” asked The Youngest the other day, over a news re­port on the cri­sis. But I feel no pain: I served as a par­ent of a young child dur­ing the Buzz Lightyear wars; I have done my time at the Christ­mas toy front. And much as though I fre­quently wish my chil­dren were still lit­tle, I have no de­sire to spend the next three weeks fren­ziedly por­ing over ob­scure web­sites to spend a week’s wages on a doll that was worth next to noth­ing a month ago.

In any case, as I tried to ex­plain to The Youngest, when you’ve seen one, you’ve es­sen­tially seen them all. There is a nar­ra­tive arc common to almost all th­ese films (apart, ob­vi­ously, from the pre­pos­ter­ous Rata­touille) that makes see­ing any more of them than your chil­dren want to en­tirely un­nec­es­sary. Chil­dren move on from th­ese films; hon­estly, it’s fine for us to do so as well. As ( I gather) they say in Frozen: let it go.

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