KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
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.