In his report about Sofia Coppola planning to direct a “live-action” (i.e., animated with CG) version of Hans Christian Andersen‘s The Little Mermaid for Universal and Working Title, Deadline‘s Michael Fleming wrote the following: “This is a departure for Coppola in that her projects are usually focused on adult themes. She’s got kids and it wouldn’t be shocking if she wanted to please them with a movie they can see and understand.” In other words, Fleming is suggesting, Coppola may have decided to use her leverage as a name-brand director to gift her kids in a big-screen way.
There is nothing lower or more wasteful or less interesting for a serious filmmaker to do than make a movie for kids…nothing. Okay, there have been a few exceptions (Francois Truffaut‘s Small Change, or L’Argent du poche) but it’s mostly a waste of creative juices. Due respect but I’ll be taking a pass on Coppola’s The Little Mermaid. For me the next Sofia Coppola film will be the one that follows it.
Wells to Sasha Stone: In terms of 21st Century female empowerment and women taking control of their lives and creating new opportunities in the culture, how does the basic Little Mermaid premise — i.e, “A young mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince” — strike you? Is this something your daughter and her pallies will relate to? Should young women think about abandoning their own realms in order to (a) blend into normal society and (b) marry a powerful young husband?
What a waste it was for Martin Scorsese to make Hugo, which, he said, was mainly embarked upon for the sake of his children. Scorsese and his kids were happy and the rest of us had to sit through it. The George Melies recreations in the last act were fairly transporting but the first two-thirds…good God.
Kid movies are mostly endurance tests. I enjoyed the Katzenberg-era animated Disney features of the ’90s (i.e., when my kids were young) but most of today’s kid family movies (with the reported/alleged exception of Frozen and The Lego Movie) are pandering, patronizing shite — corporate “product” that is simply about trying to make money.
Almost nobody makes kid films like Small Change or The Red Balloon or The Tin Drum or E.T. any more. When I was 8 years old I was susceptible to cheesy crap like any other contemporary (animated, action-driven, spectacle), but when I turned ten or thereabouts I very much wanted to absorb adult-level movies. I didn’t like movies that were mostly about adults sitting around and talking to each other and I definitely didn’t like subtitled films, but I really wanted to inhabit and learn about adult realms.