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This week:
Pooh's Heffalump Movie

Filthy says:
"You know, for kids."

In some ways, reviewing a children's movie like Pooh's Heffalump Movie is a different and more delicate task than reviewing some shoot-em-up R-rated movie. A children's movie has a different audience with different expectations. But, it's what I'm reviewing because I babysat my nephew, the Filthy Baby, Friday while my sister was out getting a tattoo or new tires, or God knows what she does. I'll get on my soapbox here for a moment. I hate parents who let television babysit their kids. That's bad parenting. You think TV's caring for them, but really, if you're not there who is? That's what the movies are for. That's why you pay to get in, to be within a community of people that'll watch your two-year old when you go out to play the Attack from Mars pinball in the lobby. Yeah, the moms give you a dirty look when you come back, but why? They watched the kid, he's in one piece. No harm no foul.

After seeing it, I thought, am I equipped to review a kids' flick? Then I figured out my angle. I have to break out of my formula, because even with my lack of good judgment I recognize that my reviews may contain words kids shouldn't hear. Besides, it's not like I've been doing this so long I've lost my sense of how sensitive kids are, and what makes them happy. This time, forget the foul language; I just want to put a song into the heart of the youngsters.

If you have a toddler or an I-Can-Read-All-By-Myself early-grader in the house, sit them in front of the monitor for a special treat.

Kids, Pooh's Heffalump Movie is good in the same way as seeing your parents screwing if your parents are hot-looking and you're not easily creeped out by that sort of thing. For most of its 68 minutes, it has the hazy sweetness of that sliver of Friday twilight when Daddy has come home from work, had a couple of brews and promises you a pony. It's not like later, after you've been put to bed and he's slurring his words, yelling at Mommy, then locks himself in your room, sits on the foot of your bed, crying and shouting that he's going to kill himself while you cower under the sheets and wait for the pop and burnt odor of gunpowder. If your daddy hasn't done that, he will. They all do.

In Pooh's Heffalump Movie, Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood are woken by the trumpeting of a Heffalump, some sort of fearsome elephant who lives in the woods next door. They've never explored those woods and never seen a Heffalump but imagine it could snap them like twigs and eat out their innards. Kids,, you know what happens when you jump to conclusions about others like that? Sometimes you're wrong. And sometimes you're right and strangers do want to eat you. Mostly school teachers. Just be careful is all I'm saying.

Rabbit convinces Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet that they must go and capture the beast before it hurts them. They won't let little Roo (he's the bastard kangaroo) come because he's too young and this infuriates the little guy. You know how mad you get when you're told you're too young to do something, don't you? Well, believe it. I saw a four-year old get thrown from a rollercoaster once. His head busted open like a pumpkin. Seriously, the ground was littered with blood, tissue and seeds.

Mad at being told he's too young, Roo sneaks out on his own to capture a Haffalump. While Pooh and the gang wander in circles, Roo encounters and shoots the beast dead. Just kidding. He meets up with the Heffalump, discovers it speaks like a harmless little English boy. Lumpy, as this Heffalump likes to be called, is just a kid, with the same problems, hopes and dreams as Roo. He's not a monster at all. In fact, he thought Roo and his pals were the terrifying ones. Roo and Lumpy play some fun games, sing some truly awful songs before meeting up with Pooh, Rabbit, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore, who then also learn that you shouldn't be afraid of the unknown.

Kids, that's a great message. It's not necessarily true, though. The unknown should scare you out of your scalps. Pooh's Heffalump Movie movie wants you to believe that the shape and color of others is no reason to be afraid of them. Really, there are shapes and colors that'll make you wish you were dead. Bone-thin, jittery with red eyes is frightening. Especially if the person smells like a chemical lab. Really fat, fast and prone to sitting down is a recipe for a squished child sandwich, so run for your lives. At your precious ages, you can't even imagine the evil and harm strangers are dreaming up for you. I'd say, if you live to be ten, you're one of the lucky ones. If you're home schooled, you won't make it to seven. You'll be so dazzled by the first shiny lights you'll end up slashed to ribbons by a stalker.

Despite the corny message and the crummy songs written for an audience of retarded two-year olds, it's a decent movie. The Heffalump himself is nothing that A.A. Milne (he's the guy who wrote the Pooh stories) would have created; he's too sappy and cutesy. The songs are written by Carly Simon under the misguided belief that kids like sugar in their music as much as in their cereal. But Tigger, Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit and Eeyore are simply themselves, and that's pretty great. Pooh's solipsism (ask your parents what it means) and single-mindedness, Eeyore's easy martyrdom and Rabbit's know-it-all personality get them into amusing trouble. When the story focuses on them, you remember what makes Pooh better than the other junk the adults shovel down your throats. They don't condescend too much, and they truly seem to be figuring out what's going on right alongside you.

The movies looks nice, too. It's not Snow White or nothing, but it's more pleasing to the eye than Home on the Range or a lot of the other Saturday-Morning-Cartoon junk that gets passed off as feature films. This is also a good movie because your parents can go out to the lobby, play pinball and then come back without losing the plot.

Pooh is slightly better than harmless and Three Fingers, but it's about the minimum that's acceptable for kids. After all, they are our future and we can't really afford to let them kill time with pointless junk. you kids are going to have your hands full fixing our screw-ups when you're older. That is, if you're still alive.

That brings me to my final thought: The goal of so much children's entertainment is simply to be harmless, written and produced by people who don't have, understand or even like youngsters. It's as though the only objective is shutting his mouth for a couple hours. Sure, you kids like almost everything you see, except, notably, my short-lived cable-access show "I Will Punch You". But you're smart enough to like some things more than others. Something can be harmless, or even a little harmful, while being entertaining, intelligent and new. What I'm saying is, demand more, kids. Don't settle for anymore of that gruel they ladle out Saturday mornings. Your father has a whole new word for you to explore in his nightstand.

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Constantine is "Wow! An amazing, fascinating trip!"

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Filthy's Reading
Tom Wolfe - The Kandy-Kolored Tangerin-Flake Streamline Baby

Listening to
Camper Van Beethoven - Telephone Free Landslide Victory


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