People can call James Cameron’s “Avatar” a game-changer all they want, but from our current vantage point, I’m beginning to think that it was actually a certain “Squeakuel” that has had the greater influence over the impending future of cinema. I mean, Pixar, Robert Zemeckis and Dreamworks had already pretty much sold filmgoers on the merits of a good 3D presentation, and massive CG special-effects blockbusters have been a dime a dozen for well over a decade, but Alvin and his chipmunk chums have ensured us a (grim) future where big-budget family-movie adaptations of outdated cartoon characters reign supreme.
Although “Astroboy” fizzled out on take-off a while back, we still have “Marmaduke,” “Smurfs,” “Popeye,” “Yogi Bear” and still more “Alvin and the Chipmunks” to either look giddily forward to, or cower in sickened terror from (depending on your point-of-view, of course).
Now you can add another one to the docket, as the Los Angeles Times has reported that none other than Mighty Mouse will be joining the prestigious ranks of the icons listed above. I’ll give you a second to abandon dignity and sing his maddening theme song to yourself before continuing.
Done yet? Okay. The self-proclaimed “reboot” (What exactly is it rebooting?), which is set up at Paramount and it’s Nickelodeon Movies label, is currently shopping for writers and a director to help create a relatively pain-free movie-going experience for children and their poor suffering parents. It goes without saying that 3D will no doubt be included in the package, as well as a cast chock-a-block full of embarrassed-looking B-list actors and a major slumming celebrity giving the super-powered rodent his vocal chords.
When originally conceived in the 1940s, “Mighty Mouse” was intended as a sharp satire on Superman and the comic-book hero genre popularized by DC, using his minuscule form and unmatched might to humorously wallop villains to kingdom come and back. In the right hands, the character could theoretically allow for a kiddie-friendly spoof of the ever-burgeoning superhero movie genre – like a G or PG-rated “Kick Ass,” “Hancock” or “Superhero Movie.” Yet, staring into my crystal ball of cynicism, I’d say it’s more likely that he’ll wind up helping a troubled young boy or girl – possibly from a broken home — learn to love themselves while motivating them to discover their own inner-hero. Laugh all you want, but you know there’s truth in them there words.
Regardless, I’m pretty confident that whatever the final product turns out like, it will be of little interest to anyone under the age of, what? 10? 8? Kids seem so grown up these days, compared to my own “Predator/Prey”-and-fort-building youth, what with their rampant text-messaging and ultra-violent PlayStation 3s, so I’m not even going to try to pretend to know what the cut-off point for a flick featuring a cape-sporting house-pest is. I’ll leave it to you, loyal IJMers to figure that one out.
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Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.