Monday, June 11, 2007

SPOILER ALERT -- "Nancy Drew" and "Ratatouille"

Two movies for kids coming out this month devote a significant amount of story-telling time to plot twists involving secret out-of-wedlock children whose fathers were never told that they existed. One is the PG "Nancy Drew" and the other is the G-rated "Ratatouille." Is there anyone who thinks that this is an appropriate storyline for movies marketed for children? Is there anyone out there who looks forward to questions from a six-year-old about what a DNA test is for or how a father could be surprised to find out that he has a grown-up child or why a mother would want to keep such a secret?

It is not as though either of these is a sensitive treatment of a subject that may be of interest or concern to children living in a world of blended families and reproductive technology. In both cases, they are tossed into the plot more for convenience than for the expression of art or creativity. If the film-makers could not show some effort in designing a plot with more imagination, they could have taken the time to think about finding a plot with more resonance for children.


Anonymous said...

At first I approached the idea of a Nancy Drew movie with apprehension. We all know how Hollywood likes to take our greatest heroes and clobber them to death with superficiality and needless drama. I was terrified that Nancy Drew was going to come out like a teen pop movie, fitted with cell phones, ipods, mini skirts, and pop icon as my favourite girl sleuth. Most reviews I've come across, yours included, have praised Roberts' acting and Nancy's character. I'm only 17, but the last time I read of Nancy's escapades was probably 6 years ago. With James Patterson and Lee Child providing my main reading material now, I wasn't surprised that the mystery Nancy solved was a murder. I wasn't put off by it either. I guess I feel that in this day and age that Nancy should deal with modern things. Nancy is 18 in the books (I'm fairly certain) and it makes sense that she would encounter "pg13" things and that this movie should be marketed to a much older audience (not 8 year olds). I think of Veronica Mars as a modern day Nancy Drew (confident, efficient, and competent) which I guess I expected this to translate to on the big screen.

Nell Minow said...

Thanks for a great comment! I wish there could be a Veronica Mars movie. You are right that the problem here is who the movie's target audience is. It isn't just that the movie has a murder -- that would not bother me, especially since it took place decades before. It is the weirdness of the contrast between Nancy's resolute innocence (she has to be at least 16 because she drives, but she looks like she is 14 and acts like she is 12 in some ways) and the mystery (missing secret illegitimate child) she is asked to solve. Thanks for writing!