Monday, November 26, 2001

Monsters, Inc. is a silly, fun, clever, good light movie. But because it's Disney, I just can't sit still about its moral framework. Typical Disney formula: unassailably good-hearted protagonist, hapless wise-cracking sidekick, damsels in distress, crystal clear face of evil, valiant rescue and triumph. In this case the moral simplicity is almost laughable: Ooh, the big bad slithering monster with the raspy voice and forked tongue is going to turn his evil machine on the cherubic baby girl! It's up to our good-hearted strong hero to come to the rescue. That's just not interesting. That's 0% creative, 0% subtle, 0% provocative. And so, morality-wise, it's not quality art. It's a Happy Meal construction.

You may say it's Disney so it's harmless, but this consistent theology -- we are basically good, threatened by a definite face of evil, and a valiant, righteous struggle is needed -- flies in the face of Christian theology, which says we are all sinners born into a broken world, and good and evil collide in all sorts of confusing ways. Accepting the first outlook, it's easy to see how George W. gets such a kick out of making us sound so righteous in our "way of life" as we battle a definite face of evil, Osama bin Laden. But in adopting the more subtle and sensible second outlook, we are more open to peer within our own souls and look for our own wrongs, and not to get too triumphant or simplistic in a confusing world.

To reiterate: Monsters, Inc is a quality see. Just don't get too tickled by its two-penny theology.

Speaking of lazy moral outlooks, I saw on the El this morning an ad for On The Line, the celebrity construction involving some N'Sync guy, set in Chicago, and it reminded me of Roger Ebert's review. He pointed out how romantic comedies always involve how two lovers will get together against the odds, and all the zany circumstances that keep them apart before an aw-shucks tacked-on ending. What's missing, he says, is any portrayal, exploration, development of the actual relationship. There's no Then What?

Is it any wonder that a culture so mesmerized with the thrill of the "catch," the initial thrill, the early sexual consummation, struggles so much with marriage?

Monsters, Inc. reviews:

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