Friday, November 21, 2008

Critique of "Thomas and the Magic Railway"

So the little man is a "wee bit" Thomas the Tank Engine happy. He loooooooves his "Ta" and asks to watch him daily. We've gotten into the habit of watching some Thomas when AJ wakes up from his nap (he often wakes up extra cranky and this helps alleviate that somewhat - plus I'm just a sucker).

So usually the conversation goes like this:
Me: Hey Buddy! That was a good (short, long, whatever) nap!
AJ: Ta? (pointing to nothing in particular and vigorously nodding his head "yes")
Me: You want to watch Thomas?
AJ: (emphatically) Ta. (With a continuation of the vehement head nodding)
Me: Which Thomas would you like to watch? (We have episodes TiVoed in addition to this movie and a couple DVDs of episodes)
AJ: Rar-rar. (Still nodding)
Me: Ok.
AJ: Yay! (At which point he usually runs into the living room and climbs up onto the couch)

So I've seen "Thomas and the Magic Railway" a 'couple' of times now ("rar-rar" refers to the story's antagonist "Diesel 10" a mean diesel engine with a claw (named "Pinchy") attached to the top of him).

It stars Alec Baldwin (I'd love to know if this was pre or post horrific voicemail for his daughter), Peter Fonda, and the girl from Mathilda, except as a pre-teen (still has the slight lisp and chubby cheeks, but they're not quite as cutesy anymore). If you've never seen this delightful piece of straight-to-DVD movie-dom...well, consider yourself lucky. I have a few issues with it which I would like to elaborate on today.

In roughly chronological order:
1) Lily (Mathilda, and Peter Fonda's character's granddaughter) is sent on a train to go see her grandfather. She apparently has been given no instruction as to how to determine her correct train because as she comes down the steps into the station _alone_ (Are you kidding me? You'd just drop your 12-yr-old off at the train station and drive off? My mom doesn't do that and I'm 32!), she decides to ask a _DOG_ if he knows which train she's supposed to get on. He barks and leads the way to the wrong train (track 3 vs. 4 - which are clearly marked overhead) and she FOLLOWS! A DOG! And assumes that a random DOG she's never seen before knows which train she's supposed to be getting on. And never double checks the track number. And no one on the train seems to care that she's got a ticket for a different train because when she arrives at the wrong station, she's surprised. Every time I get to this point in the story and Lily says "why not?" to the implied question of should she follow the random DOG, I yell at the screen "BECAUSE HE'S A DOG!!" Every day. She never listens.
2) "Patch" (random sidekick kid) tells Lily's grandfather (Peter Fonda) that he found the entrance to his workshop "ages ago" but has somehow never seen the full-size train engine that FILLS UP THE ROOM.
3) Then, after having her necessary exposition with Junior (the "rogue with a heart of gold") at the wrong station (apparently the random dog knew this was necessary for the story, hence leading Lily to the wrong train in the first place), the station manager comes up to Lily and asks if she's Lily. Now, granted, she's in a Station Manager's uniform and she both knows the child's name and that she was supposed to have met her grandfather at another station...but when she says that she'll drive her over to meet Peter Fonda, Lily jumps up and gets into a complete stranger's car. Peter Fonda's character is supposed to be very sad and "never goes to Shining Time Station anymore," but your granddaughter who is coming to visit for the first time since her Grandmother died (the main reason he's so sad) got to the wrong station and you're going to let her get into a stranger's car instead of coming to get her yourself? I mean, I'm ok with him being sad, but that's just irresponsible.
4) The next day, Lily meets "Patch" who takes her back to Shining Time Station (with her grandfather's permission and explicit instruction that she be back by sundown). Patch apparently just drops her off at the (empty) station and goes about his business because Lily again meets Junior who invites her to go to the Island of Sodor with him.

So let's this point in the story, Lily has allowed a dog to pick which train she's gonna get on, gotten into the car of a complete stranger, and now has gone with another complete stranger (who's also like 6" tall) to a place she's never heard of before. Sure, he tells her it's a magical place, but I would imagine that a lot of pedophiles and kidnappers say similar things.
5) When "Patch" (poor kid never gets a real name) comes back without Lily (because she's stuck on the Island of Sodor), her grandfather's reaction is literally "that's ok." Granted, when she _does_ show back up the next day, he's very relieved, but the police or at least _act_ concerned.
6) And speaking of Peter Fonda's acting. Now, I've never seen him in anything else before, but one just assumes that being from the fabled Fonda family that he can act at least a little. And I know that his character was probably described as "extremely sad" or some such single-dimensional description, but he has ZERO inflection in his tone and has a completely relaxed/depressed face until almost the very end when they get Lady (the magic engine they're trying to save) running again. Then he's almost all smiles (so again, one-dimensional).
7) You really need to have seen the movie for my final criticism, but I'll try to explain briefly the storyline. Mr. Conductor (Alec Baldwin - who I would describe as possibly 2-dimensional to Peter Fonda's 1-dimensional better, but still not exactly good) needs gold dust to move from Shining Time Station to the Island of Sodor because Lady (the magic engine) disappeared years ago and she was the only other way to travel between the two. But after years of unnecessary use (he's standing next to Thomas at one point and uses his gold dust to disappear and reappear inside Thomas - literally saving himself like four steps), he's almost out of gold dust. So he spends the movie searching for how to get more gold dust (Lady makes swirls that have to get mixed with water, as we find out later). After Lily, Patch, and Peter Fonda figure out how to make Lady go again (using Sodor coal instead of real world coal), they go back to Sodor and have to escape from Diesel 10. As they're escaping, Mr. Conductor tells Junior that life is still over for them, Sodor, and apparently the real world (Shining Time) too since they're still out of gold dust. Now, I thought they needed the gold dust only because Lady was missing. They'd found her, so why do they still need gold dust so desperately (except to continue their laziness)? I just don't understand.

So anyway. This is my life almost daily (and these are the things I think about). And then at night when I can't sleep, guess what goes through my head? Songs from this dag-blamed movie.

At least I've instituted a "once per day" policy.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Suzi hasn't found a DVD she wants to watch every day yet, and I'm kind of glad. But if she did, it would give me the opportunity to get a little housework done!

You entered my bloggy giveaways carnival contest, and I wanted to let you know about the contest I am having right now. It is for a two week taster pack of Glow Mama drinks! They are great for moms and pregnant women. Stop by and enter when you have a minute :-)