I've been fighting a little bit of a cold, and out with friends last night, everyone kept telling me I sounded like Kathleen Turner, so I decided to lay low today and just rent a couple of movies and lay around the house. I almost got _Mysterious Skin_ or _Bad Education_, but I wasn't sure if anyone else would be home and I kind of wanted to watch something fun and silly. I am a sucker for special effects and goofy sci-fi stuff and don't mind the occasional kid movie, so when I saw Zathura sitting on the shelf, i decided to give it a try.
Kids play old game, wind up in outer space, have to win the game to save themselves and get back to their family. Evil, human-eating, alien lizard-people, deranged robot. Awesome!
Uh, until you watch the movie. The special effects were great. The aesthetics, with the retro feel of the game/astronaut/spaceships/robot, were perfect. The acting was decent too and the story flowed reasonably well. So what was the trouble? From the first scene, you find yourself hard-pressed to not want every character you encounter to die. The children in the movie are horrible little shits who deserve to be eaten by alien lizard-people. Really, truly retched little beasts of humans whose incesant whining and selfishness makes you want to see them sent to boot camp. The dad seems to be well-meaning, but you definitely get the feeling from it that his doting attempts at being the perfect parent has created these little monsters who resent one another and try at every turn to monopolize his time and force a declaration that each is the favorite child and that the other is less important. It was like watching a retelling of cinderella with only the evil stepmom and stepsisters, a familial group of selfish trolls who would make sense as part of a story were they being contrasted against kindly, likable others.
Here, however, they aren't the disagreeable foils to good, hardworking, appreciative characters; they are the center of the story. That these characters were well-recieved (as is evident in the rottentomatoes.com review of Zathura) says frightening things about us. I really have a hard time believing anyone could watch that and not want to snatch those kids up and give them an ear full. And take the dad and sign him up for a parenting class too. Where is Super-Nanny when you need her? Really, donate every last one of their under appreciated toys to charity, sign them up for some team sports and after school activities (boyscouts, gymnastics, piano lessons, whatever) and give them a chore list so they could earn an allowance to buy for themselves every future toy or gadget they wants.
The most troubling part isn't just that the charaters were awful and retched and children that you would be horrified to ever be around, but that they were believable and familiar. Those spoiled little retards are popping up everywhere these days. If you saw that movie and thought the kids were likable and that that is 'just the way kids are' and you are considering raising children, please do us all a favor and consider NOT raising kids. And if you watched it and thought the kids in the movie reminded you of your children, let me be the first to tell you that your kids are not going to find a campy mechanical space game that will uproot your home, send it flying through space, and teach them valuable life lessons and make yours a functional family. You need to get advice on raising kids from the cranky old people in your neighborhood and quit being a push-over with the little horrors you have created.
Anyway, if you are in the movie store and considering renting _Zathura_, don't. Get something with charaters you could care more about and who have more functional family relationships, like maybe any John Waters film.