Malleus Maleficarum!
294 – Bogmoggy’s Choice

But which one???

So I recently watched a movie that I feel compelled to share, a film that I knew full well going in would be absolutely wretched in a very special way.  See, there are some movies that you know in your head are bad, but you still enjoy them despite yourself.  And there are some that are so bad that they become good, because their incompetence is so complete as to astonish. And there are some that are bad but they try so hard, they struggle so valiantly against the limits of their budget and ability, that you start to root for them. And of course, there are movies that are just plain bad, boring or stupid or unmemorable.  But it’s rare that you find a movie that really makes you actively hate it. This is that kind of movie: a big expensive glutinous mess made by people who presumably should have known better, where everytime the director made a decision he chose the wrong path. But what’s fascinating to me is that the director clearly didn’t make those wrong decisions because he had some conviction in his heart that they would lead to a good movie.  They’re clearly decisions meant to pander to the audience, where the director isn’t thinking THIS WILL BE ART but rather THOSE RUBES WILL EAT THIS UP! SHOVEL IN MORE SCHMALTZ! THE FLY-OVER-STATE COWS WILL LICK THAT GARBAGE UP! UH OH WE NEED SOMETHING TO APPEASE THE CRITICS? THROW IN SOME HEAVY-HANDED SYMBOLISM! THEY’LL THINK THEY’RE SMART WHEN THEY SEE THE OBVIOUS AND THEY’LL LOVE IT!

What’s great is that no one was fooled and no one liked this movie AT ALL.

The movie I’m talking about is The Nutcracker in 3D (2010).

Now technically, I should point out that it doesn’t really bill itself as an adaptation of The Nutcracker, since it credits neither Tchaikovsky’s ballet nor E.T.A. Hoffman’s novella as inspiration.  So I won’t bash on it for not being very true to The Nutcracker story.  Instead I’ll bash on it for being absolutely bezonkers in the worst possible way.  Nothing makes sense, the move continuously throws new characters at you to distract you from how unlikeable everyone is, and, to top things off, they decided that the mouse king’s army should be portrayed as Nazi stormtroopers.  They really didn’t want you to miss that either, so it’s not like they just kinda hinted at it, nope, they literally put them all in pickelhaubes and stahlheims, cuz, you know, you don’t wanna be too subtle.  Now, I’m not necessarily against this stylistic choice per se, but I think if you’re going to appropriate such loaded imagery for a kids’ film, you might need to use a light touch.  Here, they’re not really trying to say anything pertinent with the Nazi imagery other than to telegraph that the rats are the bad guys.  Speaking of the rats, there are a lot of ways that you could choose to portray the rats in a live-action nutcracker movie.  You could, say, use puppets or animatronics or CG or animation or stop-motion or costumes. They decided to go with the absolute worst way to realize them: Zoobilee Zoo style prosthetics, just what every child hates.  So the rats are all just people with weird noses.  Except that every so often and for no reason, the Andy Warhol-esque rat king will suddenly grow a huge, toothy, body horror mouth, blasting out of your screen and into your nightmares faster than Large Marge from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

On top of that, this is an oestensible Christmas film which means that they do that thing where they try to cram schmaltzy Christmas nostalgia down your throat with that kind of long, pointless panning shot of suspiciously clean and shiny uptown New York stand-in city where the snow is lightly falling and everyone is walking around in big cozy fur coats and tophats and carrying big piles of presents and oh ho look two shoppers have bumped each other an dropped their gifts, how merry! Oh ho ho this sub-Vaudeville pratfall routine surely puts me in mind of Christmas past!  It’s difficult to describe exactly what pisses me off about this particular syndrome of Christmas movie cliches, but…well…. you know it when you see it.  It’s the sort of thing that appears in a lot of Christmas movies to distract you when the film has nothing to offer you but hollow platitudes and ersatz warmth.

Oh, also the Nutcracker himself is named N.C. in this film.  And far be it for me to complain that they didn’t make him look like one of those Ore Mountain nutcrackers that look like Prussian soldiers with big beards and big scary teeth, but they didn’t  make him look like one of those ore Mountain nutcrackers that look like Prussian soldiers with big beards and big scary teeth. Instead they thought the nutcracker should look like Dib from Invader Zim. Okay.

Oh and he doesn’t rule over the Land of Candy in this one. Instead, he rules over generic picturesque central European town land.

Oh and there’s no Onkel Drosselmeyer in this one either. Instead, Marie’s uncle is Albert Einstein.  Who the fuck knows why.

So yeah, it’s bad.

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Discussion (2) ¬

  1. Mr. Casual

    I don’t know why some directors decide they want to take a classic story and make it some kind of neo-artsy-fartsy Pink Floyd experience.

    And aw, here I thought Belladonna would turn out to be the secretly tolerant one, like her brother Broody is a racist piece of crap and she’d be fine with subtly influencing Boggy to have her “frems”.

    I guess technically she is, she just _also_ wants to eat one of ‘em, heh.

  2. Agouti-Rex

    Monsters love eating kids!

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