by Tim Gordon
Some years ago, I remember getting into a heated argument on a television show with a film colleague as we were discussing the merits of a film for young children. My argument to my him was that he didn’t like the film because he was not the demographic that the film was targeting.
Well it turnabout is fair play. I feel his pain after sitting through Arthur and The Incredibles, a film that was incredibly confusing and . . . real bad!
Young Archibald aka Arthur (we couldn’t understand how Archibald morphed into Arthur; who knew!) lives alone with grandmother on a farm in the middle of nowhere (Mia Farrow) and is an adventurer at heart. Seems his grandfather, who was an explorer just up and disappeared some time ago. We see early that grandma Farrow misses him dearly and marks each day she misses him with another calendar page in the “Days I Miss You” box. Last time she saw him he was in search of rubies in Africa or something to that effect.
Young Arthur needs an adventure and the film accommodates him by interjecting a bad creditor who wants to confiscate grandma’s land. Seems that if she can’t produce a signature from her missing husband in two days, she is going to be evicted from her property. What’s a 10-year old to do? C’mon, find the rubies and pay the debt — in 48 hours!
Before you know it, Arthur discovers clues left by grandpa, African warriors show up and a convoluted story about a special opening created in the backyard every 10 moons (that’s 10 months for the uninformed). Before you can say “Honey I Shrunk the Kids,” Arthur shrinks to miniature-size and finds himself in another world — again, underground in his backyard. In this new world, Madonna is a princess, Snoop Dogg runs a club with his assistant Anthony Anderson (with both sporting fuzzy locks), while several of the Goodfellas (Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel and Chazz Palmenteri) round out the supporting cast. David Bowie is the evil overlord who seeks to take over lower backyard.
I wish I could say that I was able to concentrate totally on the film, but a wonderful mother had a screaming baby in the theater and refused to take her out to the lobby. We’re not mad at the baby, but the mother should have shown some mercy and not exposed a small child to such cruel and unusual punishment.
But the one good thing that this incredibly bad film accomplished is that it did eventually put that child to sleep. Sadly, I wish I too could have joined that lucky child!