Sunday, December 13

Spoiler Alert: The Princess and the Frog

I long ago grew accustomed to uncomfortable questions about death. It's rare that a week goes by without Alexis asking about our pup Jasmine. While it's been well over a year since she unexpectedly died, Alexis is still trying to figure it all out. Her questions have, over time, become more complicated and more worldly, a reflection of her advancing age and maturity.

I try to answer her honestly (there is no other answer for, "Why did she die?" than I DON'T KNOW--that's the simple truth of the matter). I do not dodge the questions. I figure that's what we get for naming our dog after a Disney Princess; Alexis is immersed in a world with constant reminders that, for her, there are "two Jasmines--purple Jasmine and white Jasmine" and "white Jasmine" is no longer with us.

(Note to self: Quit naming things after Disney characters.)

Anyway, I pretty much assumed that there would be a death in The Princess and the Frog. That's how Disney rolls. A movie can't sport the mark of the Mouse unless somebody bites the big one. As we sat watching the movie with Alexis, a movie she had been waiting MONTHS to see, I thought we were home free when Tiana's dad died. It was sort of a passing moment, not really a major part of the plot. No questions, no fuss, no muss. (More like the Aladdin Has No Mommy kind of dead and less like the Lion King Buh-Bye Daddy of death.)

In fact, I really liked the movie at that point (and still do, but . . .). The main theme is that you can wish on the evening star all you want, but only hard work will make your dreams come true. Forget the usual reliance on good looks or standing around waiting for Prince Charming to come along to make everything all right. Finally! My kind of Disney Princess movie!

And then the damn lightening bug got squished. Frickin' frackin' Disney and their need to kill off characters led to a chorus of kids asking, "Why did he do that?" as they watched the villain murder a loved character. All through the theater you could hear parents struggling to answer the questions or change the subject.

Just when it seemed that it was going to be one of those, "Oh, yeah, he died but we're going to just move on" kind of moments, the damn lightening bug showed back up and then finished off his little dying routine on screen.

Thanks, Disney! That was a fantastic little moment right there.

That fantastic little moment was made better by the funeral that followed.

The good news is that the squished bug ended up going where he was meant to be, so to speak.

So, good on Disney for giving us a talking point to talk about death and respect and funerals and heaven and all that jazz, but WHY DIDN'T THEY WARN ME? Why can't Disney flicks come with some sort of rating about whether or not a movie is going to make my kid question the meaning of life? Kind of like, "Rated E for This One Will be Easy to Explain" to "Rated F for You Are So Effed if You Think You Can Just Blow this One Off."

I just wish Disney would figure out that the primary audience for princess flicks is little girls who like sparkles, shiny things, pretty dresses, and who ask way too many questions.

22 comments:

  1. TwinMamaTeb11:15 PM

    That pic? Awesome. Those boots? HAWT!..um, in a 3 yr old cute little girl kinda hawtness, of course.

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  2. Thanks for the heads up! Eva's just getting to that point where she's starting to pick up on things that are sad and/or scary in movies....and also just starting to watch movies. I've been so worried about fielding all the real-life questions that I had forgotten about what the kiddie movies throw at them (Thanks Mickey!).

    Also, can I just say how much I love that picture of Alexis? So much personality!

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  3. That is some serious Princess attitude! Love the pose and those boots rawk!

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  4. I was talking to my cousin right after I took Claire (4 yrs old... @clairemarilee) to see it Saturday, and I asked him about Ray's death and (SPOILER HERE)...... told him I liked when the star appeared in the night sky next to Evangeline.

    He said, tug-at-your-heart-strings scenes like that that do tackle death are why he makes movies like Princess & the Frog, and that's why he works for Disney. Ever since Bambi, we dealt with death, and when Ray got squished, I thought it would be subtle and we move on but we did heave the rest. It was ok for me, and Claire is a bright one so she was cool. We discussed it briefly. Her great grandmother probably won't make it another year so this is something that's very matter-of-fact for her. We don't beat around the bush about death and all of that.

    Thanks for the review. Very well done. I gotta get mine written up soon (too much grading to do first!), and I am considering doing an interview with my cousin and posting it to nooccar.com. (He is the 3d animator for the film), and next up is Rapunzel (Christmas 2010).... someone might even die :)

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  5. Oh my word, the picture! Awesome, right there.

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  6. I warned Mike when he took her yesterday after talking to you and thankfully, by that part, he said she was fidgety and not really paying attention. It was her first movie at all so I'm surprised she made it that long considering she can't walk from her room to the bathroom without being distracted by something shiny.

    Anyway, yes, Disney does do death. At least the lightnig bug died dignified. Try explaining to Charlotte why Gaston died in beauty and the beast and why no one cared and why where there knives and what is stabbing? OH RIGHT. Good one Disney. THANKS FOR THAT

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  7. LOVE the picture! I love that she has a mini "Meg" and what child doesn't love Goldfish?
    Thanks for the update on the movie, My kiddo wants to see it, so I think it will have to happen. I will give her the heads up so she will be expecting it, and will bring tissues because my hormones have been hijacked.

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  8. First off, that's a whole lot of attitude in one picture!

    Second, Disney is mostly whackadoo. I'll never forget at the preschool I worked when we showed the kids Tarzan. One mom stopped to "thank" us for the two weeks that followed of her daughter's nightmares, and "Are you and daddy going to die and leave me to be raised by monkeys?" questions.

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  9. Jennifer I9:34 AM

    www.kids-in-mind.com

    Where you can go to preview what is going to exactly be in the movie you are taking your child to see. Highly recommend.

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  10. Thanks for the heads up. Our plan is to take the kids WEdnesday night.. so, thanks ;-)

    THAT PICTURE. Oh mah holy hell. I am rolling. She is so damn sassy and cute and bwahahahahahaaaaa love.

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  11. I needed this smile today - thank you :)

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  12. That picture is fantastic. I am not much into sad cartoons. Cartoons should be fun, but what do I know.

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  13. I love your rating system suggestion! And this picture of Alexis? OH HONEY. You are in for it. Call me in another 10 years. I know all the ins and outs with the therapy thing. (For you, not her.)

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  14. I thought the same thing. In fact, during the trailers they showed a preview for a Nicholas Sparks novel turned film (because what other preview would you show at a G movie??? ha.) and I whispered to my husband "fitting... In Disney and NS movies, someone always dies."
    When the dad died I thought "wow, that was painless... nice." and was totally caught off guard when Ray died. SAD. But, in all fairness, he did get to be with Evangeline and that was quite possibly the most beautiful part of the film!
    honestly, I loved it.

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  15. I'm very glad for the head's up...Disney movies traumatize my kids; I think we might just skip this one altogether. The scary is just too scary with Disney.

    LOVE the photo!

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  16. I will never, EVER forget when we watched An American Tail at home for movie night and Gracie started BAWLING. For the first time during a movie EVER. Why? "Because what if I get lost some day and you can't find me and I never see you a-gain?(sob)(sob)(sob)" Then *I* had to start crying becauseohmygodhowsweet. Frickin' kids' movies.

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  17. best. picture. ever.

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  18. That picture says, "I have everything I need for a night out... got my stuffed dog, got my keychain, got my thermos of something or another, and I got my goldfish. Watch out, paparazzi, here comes Miss Thang!"

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  19. Ah, Disney. No one dies in Cars! They just get all crashed and junk.

    And in Toy Story 2, Zurg doesn't die. You think he dies, but then he's just playing ball with the other Buzz outside.

    That said, my boys are going through this weird Princess phase. Help?

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  20. This conversation came up while talking to cast members this week. Everyone agrees it's a great movie, but had an unnecessary death, that was random, but someone thought it would make a great plot point. Then we thought they might have been teaching kids not to kill lightning bugs.

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  21. We saw the movie Saturday, and Flora is ready to go out and buy the DVD she liked it so much (and she wants her daddy and Kate to see it too). She has not asked many questions yet (just a couple, usually along the lines of why did shadow man turn Prince Naveen into a frog?). I think I used the words 'emotionally manipulative' to describe the whole death scene with Ray (talking about it with my mom & sister, who also went with us). It didn't spoil the picture for us, either.

    I think that since Ray died, then reappeared in the sky as a star, it was explained for Flora. As you put it 'he was where he was supposed to be'. Flora doesn't have a lot of direct experience with death (yet), but it's been generally explained in the terms of 'he/she has gone to heaven', and I think Disney illustrated it in a similar way for her.

    Now, if she asks WHY Shadow Man killed Ray, well, I'm just going to tell her he was a bully. And he got what he deserved, too.

    ciao,
    rpm

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  22. Anonymous6:15 PM

    Oh bawwwwwww. You can't hide that stuff from kids forever. Just tell them the truth and stop dodging the question.

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