Snide Remarks #118
by Eric D. Snider
Published in The Daily Herald on July 28, 2000
"Pokemon: The Movie 2000" grossed $20 million in its first weekend. In a related story, I'm going to kill myself.
I've seen plenty of bad movies, of course, including the entire oeuvre of Freddie Prinze Jr., who is this generation's Keanu Reeves (a comparison lost on people who think Keanu Reeves is suddenly a good actor just because he was in a good movie. Surrounding yourself with goodness does not necessarily make YOU any good, as Judas Iscariot would surely tell you). Usually, a bad movie spews forth its badness for two hours (three, if Kevin Costner is involved), I write a review, and I cast it from my mind forever, often with the aid of over-the-counter Butterfingers.
But the new "Pokemon" movie was different. This movie wanted to physically hurt me, apparently enacting some centuries-old grudge it holds against my family. For 90 minutes, it pushed me into a corner and beat me in the face with a 2-by-4. It held me upside-down and dipped my head in the toilet. Metaphorically speaking, it tied each of my limbs to a different horse and then fired a gun in the air. A thousand Freddie Prinze Jr.'s working around the clock for a thousand years could not produce a movie more loathesome than this. It's an aggressively bad movie, a movie that won't be satisfied until it has sprayed its foul evil on every inhabitant of the Earth, a movie conceived by Satan and produced by his Pacific Rim minions for the sole purpose of tormenting mankind with its hellish freak show of badly drawn characters and incomprehensible dialogue. I spent an evening in the emergency room after viewing it because so vile and filthy was the very thought of "Pokemon: The Movie 2000" that I jabbed a pen in my ear and tried to scrape out the part of my brain that remembered seeing it.
This is a movie that is not very good.
It is the story of some Japanese people, and how they're not very good at animation. In fact, the Japanese word for animation, "anime," literally means "lousy animation." They have no word for "good animation," or "animation in which the objects actually move," because those concepts are unknown in Japanese culture. The movie also tells the story of some Japanese marketing guys who wanted to make some more money off a craze that died a year ago, so they said: "Don't bother hiring artists or writers. We'll just fling a bunch of Pokemon images at the screen, and then watch the money come rolling in. Get Satan on the line, and have him finance the project, which shouldn't cost more than $12."
OK, the movie is ACTUALLY the story of a boy named Ash who collects Pokemon so that he can make them fight whenever the situation calls for it, and pretty much EVERY situation calls for it. Then there's a bad guy who wants to catch three particular Pokemon so that he can have control over the Beast of the Sea, don't ask me why. Everyone yells a lot, and no one says anything funny, and half the time you're wondering why they're doing the things they're doing, and when it's over, you find yourself unable to speak coherently or perform simple arithmetic.
There is no art in "Pokemon." It is an attempt to make money, pure and simple, with no regard whatsoever for talent, storytelling, entertainment value or anything else that is good, decent, wholesome or non-evil. Normally, a film with so little redeeming value would flop, unless Adam Sandler were attached to it. But not "Pokemon"! With a lot of kids still interested in the adventures of the video game-turned-TV show characters, the film will make money regardless of whether it's any good (which, as I believe I may have inferred, it is not).
Greater philosophers than I have said that evil is most dangerous when it's subtle. Run for president on the platform that, if elected, you will personally oversee the slaughter of every man, woman and child in America, and you probably won't get many votes (though you'll probably still beat the Libertarian candidate). But if you just say you want "reform" and "a rebirth for this nation," you'll be lopping off heads in the Oval Office before anyone even realizes what's happening.
The arts are no different. If we allow mediocrity just because it seems harmless and our kids enjoy it, the people behind it will just crank out more, and soon our only entertainment choices will be the insidious garbage of which "Pokemon" is a perfect, horrific example.
Is this what you want? I hope not, or I weep for the health and safety of our nation's film critics, as well as the people who have to put up with their whining.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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