from Pantperthog to Knockando

Sunday, March 18, 2012

If you aren’t going to take your work seriously then don’t expect me to take you seriously

This post could also have been titled: Why I didn’t like the film Happy Feet.

I have had a few conversations with people lately that have run something like this: “I know it’s only a cartoon / trashy action movie / Doctor Who, but it annoyed me how unrealistic it was...”

I realise that may make me sound nuts, but my point is this: I can accept implausible plots (e.g. a time travelling alien that looks just like a human traversing the multiverse in a little blue box), but any story, no matter how far-fetched has to abide by its own internal logic. And however fantastic and unbelievable the story, holes in the plot come down to one thing: shoddy writing.

For example, my main objection to Happy Feet was that the main penguin (whose name I forget and can’t be bothered to look up on IMDB) didn’t grow up and all his contemporaries did. So at the end of the film he was still a little grey chick, but the girl penguin he liked was in her proper plumage and everything. There was no reference to why this should be the case, or any explanation at all for it.

I think sometimes people think ‘oh, it’s only a cartoon, it doesn’t matter’, but whatever film it is, I feel cheated if people don’t do their job properly with a script etc. That, for me, was an irksome plot-hole that made me quite annoyed at the film-makers and sucked all the joy out of the film.

Also – as an aside – I really didn’t like the zoo scene where he was quite clearly suffering post traumatic stress disorder due to being confined. I’m not sure how I feel about zoos generally (some seem quite good; some are awful), and it kind of glossed over the distress that can be caused to animals in the name of entertaining humans.

I suppose there is something good any film showing how exhibiting animals can be bad for them, but whether a cartoon where it all came good in the end was really the place for effective social commentary is debatable.

There are other examples of films / TV shows where stuff just doesn’t add up, like the ‘pirates’ episode of Doctor Who last year where one character just disappeared with no explanation, or any film that relies on people changing their mind and crossing a huge distance in an unfeasibly short time to turn up in the right place at just the point where they can save the hero(es) when all hope seems lost.

Script-writers can get away with it sometimes – recently in The Muppets they made a joke out of that corny plot device (‘How did you get back here so quickly?’ ‘We travelled by map!’), which worked within the internal logic of the film.

I wish all script-writers were as good at closing plot-holes.

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