Despicable Me 2: Gru Supports Proposition 8 Traditional Marriage

Mediocre sequel to the brilliant original. Okay, it was hard to equal the original with its amazing storytelling and wonderful characters. And this one, I can’t say was captivating. Bad guy wants to destroy the world, blah blah blah.

But the reason to see it is for the most adorable cute little girl of any animated movie ever: Agnes and her excitable love shake, as well as the cuddly little minions.

One of the things I found surprising in this movie is that its theme is VERY traditional marriage at its core. As Gru, the villain turned good guy, has adopted the three little girls from the first picture, he loves them as a single parent and does the best he can for them.

But we see that it just isn’t enough, because the little girls like Agnes dream of having a mommy and what a mommy can give children. She writes a little poem about what a mommy brings and it breaks Gru’s heart that he can’t give that to her.

This of course leads to the humorous love interest between Gru and the young good girl agent, Lucy, who is a groupie of Gru’s tactics and brilliance, and willing to date him if he would only overcome his fear of rejection.

And of course, it all leads to marriage, as any good romantic and/or comedy should end in.

This marriage is depicted as clearly being the solution that the children needed for a full balanced life to grow up under.

Very simple and clear: Children need a mother and father, period.

However, the final musical piece at the end of the movie is the minions singing and dancing to YMCA, the classic hit that became a banner song for the gay movement.

So the best I can figure is that they must have realized that in order to make the story work they had to incorporate traditional marriage for the storyline. But being Hollywood storytellers, they were either instructed by the gay mafia, or from their own left-wing guilt, gave a nod to the gay community with the song as if to say, “We’re sorry we had to tell a story supporting traditional mother and father, but we still support gays!”

Monsters University: Nerds, Outcasts, Oddballs (Like Me) Kick Butt

For anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong, like they’re an outcast, or that they aren’t in the in crowd or that they don’t have that something special that others seem to have, or that they must be weird or an oddball and feel alone in a crowd – which pretty much describes me, which is why I loved this story.

The long awaited sequel to Monsters, Inc from 2001, brings back Billy Crystal and John Goodman in their roles as Mike and Sullivan, two lovable monsters seeking to be the best at scaring little children. This is an origin story about how they first met in college, that is Monsters University, and became the unlikely team that we saw in the original.

Though not as fresh as the original, and a little slow at the start, Pixar still does it right with this one by placing this story of identity, self-worth, individualism and team spirit into the fun environment of a university that gives degrees to monsters on scaring the real world.

We see that Mike has struggled all his life with simply not being scary. And yet that is all he wants to be. He is the typical nerd monster in grade school that everyone teases and laughs at. But he finds a way to make it into Monsters University, where he meets Sullivan, the monster with a pedigree of scariness, but a troublemaking slouch who doesn’t follow the rules, doesn’t try hard enough, and gets stuck with the Losers because of his irresponsibility.

So when they become roommates at the fraternity, OK (Oozma Kappa), which consists of nerds and outcasts, and an old guy going back to school, they begin in conflict because Sullivan sees they are all losers, but Mike believes if they try hard enough, they can all win the big Scare Contest of fraternities, and whoever wins, the entire frat or sorority gets to be included in the Scare Program, the elite degree that sends a lot of monsters to become quality scarers of children.

Needless to say, the nerds want to be accepted by the “in crowd,” who mocks them, Sullivan struggles with being a failure to live up to his family name by being with a bunch of losers, and Mike is the eternal optimist who believes that if everyone works hard enough, we can all achieve our dreams.

This is a wonderful story about appreciating the special value of each person as we discover that even the nerds and outcasts of the world have talents or special qualities that make them valuable people in the world. And it also deals with the issue of acceptance of those whom we deem “losers” because they can be among the most kind or giving people. But also, it is a journey for Sully who discovers quality people are more important than “cool people,” and he is just as frail with his own securities and fears as anyone else in the world. And Mike learns that you can’t always achieve what you want just by hard work, but you can apply your special skills in a way that achieves a special result anyway.

Both Mike and Sully learn that being a part of a team is more important than being a celebrity individual as they both fight to be the team leader (and therefore derail their success), until they learn to use their talents together. In fact, at the big climax, Mike, who seems to be cursed with the inability to EVER BE SCARY (the little monster is so lovable), finally learns to use his passionate book knowledge and study of scaring to help orchestrate Sully’s natural scaring skills to end up creating the biggest scare in the history of the University. Together, Mike uses his brains, and Sullivan his brawn to be the successful team they could not be alone.

So there is a lot of great heartwarming stuff about the value of being a team player and the selfishness of our individualistic “celebrity” culture mindset. The monsters don’t start “winning” until they embrace their specialness and utilize what talents they DO have as a team to accomplish their goal. And everyone has specialness, even the nerdiest nerds and the dorkiest dorks. And that is what results in success. But it doesn’t wrap up too easily or without some pain – just like real life.

SPOILER: One particularly poignant plot element is that Oozma Kappa does not win the tournament because of cheating by Sully, who wanted to help Mike. BUT, we see that they quit the school and work their way up at Monsters Inc. from the mailroom department to be the Scarers they are in Monsters Inc. This is a wonderful positive rejection of our bigoted “higher education” society that breeds the monstrous lie of the Enlightenment that Education is Salvation: Everyone needs a college education to make it in this world. But the fact is that entrepreneurs with passion who don’t fit in with that world of college (Like Bill Gates, AHEM) can achieve great things through their passionate pursuit and dedication to excellence and hard work.

For the Losers in all of us, this is a must see.

Shrek Forever After

If you remember, the original was an apparently traditional fairy tale that made fun of traditional fairy tales but ended up being a traditional fairy tale. A hero rescuing a maiden from a tower protected by a dragon, true love’s kiss redeeming the maiden. And the twist was that the maiden who was an ogre by night and a blonde human by day, was actually an ogre as her true self. Some Jungian analysis about the self etc.

But in this fourth installment it seems the storytellers went back to the original spirit. In this tale, Shrek has now been married with Fiona and has cute little triplet ogres and they are living happily in their village. But Shrek has a mid-life crisis and pines over the loss of his youthful free spirited ogre life of scaring people and being a basically selfish rogue. All the responsibility has taken the fun out of his life and he makes a deal with an evil Rumplestiltskin to have one day as his old single self in exchange for one day that Rumple picks out of Shrek’s life. Well, after Shrek has his fun, he discovers that Rumple has picked Shrek’s birth date as the one day he gets. So Shrek is never born and Shrek is now trapped in a world where he didn’t exist to free Fiona from her tower and the evil Rumple has taken over building his exploitative kingdom in place of the good king and queen. Shrek now realizes what a mistake he has made and tries to find Fiona, only to discover that, because Shrek never rescued her, she had to rescue herself and has now become a hardened warrior leader of the ogres who are oppressed by the kingdom. So now Shrek has to win Fiona’s true love kiss again in order to change the world. Only this time, she doesn’t need him. She’s been liberated and doesn’t need a man to rescue her.

This is a tale of traditional values that seems to reinforce the need for strong male leadership in a love relationship. Yes, Shrek and Fiona go on a journey together, so it’s not patriarchal abuse, but rather a need for Shrek to take the lead and even responsibility in his life and love. And Fiona is not fulfilled as a lone warrior leader until she discovers love with Shrek. When Shrek gets back to his real world, he has a renewed appreciation and treasure of his family that rejects the juvenile freedom of his single past. It’s a classic tale of It’s a Wonderful Life, in embracing maturity and responsibility over the carefree selfishness of youth, as well as traditional role models for male and female relationships in love and marriage. In Shrek Forever After, A man needs to lead with a woman who admires him, and a woman needs a man to admire.

Monsters Vs. Aliens

Susan Murphy is struck by a meteor and grows to be 50 feet tall, which, needless to say, jeopardizes her wedding plans with a television weather reporter. Also, she is captured by the military and imprisoned with other monsters they’ve captured over the years. Susan, as the “50 foot woman” meets the Missing Link, Dr. Cockroach and B.O.B., which are homages to the monster movies of the 50s and 60s: the Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Fly and the Blob. Meanwhile, a hostile alien robot has come to earth to “extract” the special substance that made Susan grow big and strong, so that he can become powerful and take over the earth, destroy it and start his own civilization of clones of himself. This bad guy alien is an expression of colonialism that imperialistically exploits other “worlds” for their natural resources and then destroys the inhabitants in order to make it his home.

This appears to be a feminist woman’s empowerment story. We follow the journey of Susan, who begins her story as a weaker woman who gets her self worth from supporting or following a man, her fiancé. The fiancé is a self-obsessed man only concerned with his own career, and not with Susan’s concerns at all. So when Susan becomes huge and even saves the city by destroying a robot, the fiancé breaks off the engagement because as he says, he can’t be in someone else’s shadow, and her shadow is particularly big. In other words, he wants a woman in HIS shadow and any “powerful” woman, or a woman who has become “big” (an obvious metaphor for a successful career woman) is too intimidating for him. He perceives that the relationship exists to serve his interests, not hers, a common accusation against “patriarchy.”

Susan realizes that her fiancé is a jerk and was only concerned with himself, so she muses to her monster friends that she doesn’t need a man to accomplish great things in life, after all, it was she who fought and destroyed an alien robot, not HIM. She stands to her full 50 foot height with clenched fists of empowerment (lacking only the Virginia Slims cigarette due to Hollywood political correctness) and says, “I’m not going to short change myself ever again.” And at the climax, when she has the chance to “become normal” by becoming small again, she chooses to become 50 feet again to save her monster friends, who have become more important to her. So at the end, when her fiancé asks for her back (for obvious selfish reasons again, to benefit his career), she stands him up and makes a fool of him and walks away, not needing a man as a fish needs not a bicycle.


Not really recommended. This CGI animated story about a small town robot that wants to go to the big city and be a famous inventor was a good little cartoon with some good morals. The moral themes were pretty obvious here from the mouths of the characters: “Follow your dream, and never give up,” “a dream that you don’t fight for can haunt you the rest of your life,” and “You can shine, no matter what you’re made of” (The old tagline for the company of inventions that the hero wants to be a part of). These are simple but good inspirational morals about the value of each and every person, even the oddballs, as represented in this story by oddball robots that are made of spare parts. But it also contains a theme of comparing the modern greedy corporate exploitation of the consumer with the old school understanding of “see a need, fill a need.” As one of the robots says, “It used to be about making life better. Now, it’s about money.” The new head of the biggest company decides to abolish making spare parts for robots to fix themselves and to advertise “Why just be yourself, when you can be NEW!” or something like that. In other words, they are going to only make upgrades, and robots who can’t afford it become outmoded and are sent to the chop shop, where the villain’s evil mother destroys and burns up all such old robot pieces. She is the Hilary Clinton of the corporation. Now, this obviously has a Marxist bent to it with it’s reduction of people to poor robots being economically exploited by the rich, but it’s not all bad or entirely false. What made it so unmoving to me personally was the inherent inhumanity in robots. Even though they were anthropomorphized and even though the themes were very human, at the end of the day, these are ultimately contraptions of mechanical soullessness. I could not ultimately care for them because they are not soulish animals. No matter how much you “humanize” them, they simply aren’t alive. It’s one thing to anthropomorphize animals like Finding Nemo and Ice Age. But these are animals that have souls, living organisms that have that link with humans in their “breath of life.” But I’m sorry, robots just don’t draw my affection. They may work as comic relief, as in Star Wars, but not as a materialistic world of machines. This is another argument against Darwinism and the claim that consciousness is merely a higher order of complexity or organization of matter without transcendence. But why did Toy Story work then? I think because even though they were toys, they were toys of people (Buzz and Woody) as well as animals (Godzilla, etc.) So the few purely mechanical toys that were not of living things were clearly overshadowed by the toys of “living things.” I am not against anthropomorphism, I’m just saying that anthropomorphizing robots is not satisfying to me because the gap between lifeless robots and humans is too great to draw human affection, whereas the gap between humans and animals is not.

The Incredibles

Highly Recommended. I won’t say it. I won’t say it was “incredible.” No. It was FANTASTIC. Pixar is the greatest animation studio since Disney started. In fact, they have become what Disney has failed to maintain, the animated family film studio. I absolutely loved the pro-family nature of this film. A family that bickers and is not being themselves, who have to draw together and use their special abilities to not only save the world, but save each other as well. Some tight-lipped prissies will say that the family was discordant and always bickering which did not support harmony in family. And these people do not know what they are talking about. Just cause a family bickers does not mean they are not harmonious on a deeper level. Anyone who claims that they do have a happy family that doesn’t bicker at all is not fooling anyone but themself. I have to admit this, that the scenes of the family drawing together to save each other, along with their friend, the freezer superhero, actually made me tear up because every act of drawing together and helping each other was an ACT of harmony and familial love that supported the ultimate bond that a family should have. I loved the kids. I loved how each of their super powers reflected their own character type or personality. The girl who can turn invisible and create force fields around herself is a shy girl who hides and protects herself from hurt. The speedy boy is an ADD kid. The stretch mom is a mom who stretches herself for everyone in her family, and the super dad is a testosterone fiend looking for excitement. I loved it. The theme of “the hero in all of us” or the “special value of each person” was very beautiful. And even the sociocultural picture of our society was profound. In the story, people start sueing super heros for saving them when they didn’t want to be saved or the collateral damage that occurs in the midst of the saving. Sound familiar? This gets to the point that all superheros can no longer afford the legal cost of saving people so they stop it and become “normal.” Well, how real is this? THIS IS AMERICA. We have a society where criminals sue their victims and win, where single selfish individuals win outrageous lawsuits that hurt medical or scientific industries. Law suits have become a new form of legitimized crime. We are a litigious society that blames everyone else for our own sins and wants everyone else to pay for it. We have a society of mediocrity where employees who seek excellence are castigated by the rest of the employees because excellence makes their mediocrity look bad. I know, I’ve seen this myself. Consequently good people who would help society are hindered in doing so because of the selfish mediocrity and jealousy of others. This entitlement mentality and blameshifting culture is destroying goodness and righteousness in our country. The Incredibles makes all good fun of this fault, but it leaves you with a profound revelation as well. This entitlement and blameshifting is squelching the “super heros” around us. The Incredibles brings back goodness and excellence and roots it in the family like no movie I’ve seen I a long time.

Shark Tale

Recommended, but beware of subversion. I love CGI animation. I love how expressive and cute the animated characters can be, how they represent human emotions and gestures with such similitude. I enjoy the simple storylines, easy to follow, strong on moral content. Shark Tale is one of these. Unfortunately, it’s a mixed bag of good values and subversive ones. Oscar is the little slacker fish at a Whale Wash who has big dreams of being loved by being somebody important up on the “top of the reef.” When he falsely gets the credit for slaying a shark, he goes with it in order to achieve that fame he wants so badly. Meanwhile, Lenny, the shark, is dying to get out of his shark family because he is a vegetarian and doesn’t want to rule the waters through fear and a carnivorous appetite. The shark world is portrayed rather ingeniously as a fish eat fish mafia family. Only the strong… Very clever and provides a whole new context for the genre. Loved that. Oscar and Lenny team up to help each other and everyone learns their lesson by the end. What I really liked about this film is the theme about the emptiness at the “top” of celebrity worship. Oscar’s character flaw is that he thinks he needs to be “somebody” famous and important to be loved, that he has to “be somebody,” because “nobody loves a nobody,” But what he doesn’t bargain for is that the “people” of that world of celebrity, as embodied in Lola, the sexy fickle female fish who uses him for her own benefit, are vacuous and without real substance or permanence in their character. Oscar comes to realize that the real ones who love him all along have been right in front of him, as embodied in the lovable small town fish girl Angie, who sticks with him through thick and thin. As she finally screams to him, “I loved you when you were a nobody! I loved you before the Lie!” Interesting that “the Lie” here is the alleged killing of the shark, but it really expresses a wider theme that the entire celebrity culture is itself a Lie. I was clearly reminded of It’s a Wonderful Life with George Bailey wanting to “wipe the dust off my feet of this crummy little town and see the world.” Build skyscrapers and such. It’s all great Americana values here and I love that. The simple morality of middle American values are captured in Angie’s straightforward command when she discovers the lie: To Oscar, “you tell the truth,” and to Lenny, “and you go home.” Of course, they don’t at the beginning and that’s what gets them into trouble. Oscar finally realizes, “I didn’t need to go to the top of the reef. Everything I needed was right in front of me the whole time.” The love of a good woman, and friends. Now, I guess a Marxist could criticize this as a conspiracy of slave class reinforcement, considering that the movie also repackages the whole “Car Wash” context for the poor black culture as happy slavery. You know, don’t aspire to greatness, just accept your position in life at the bottom of the food chain, and enjoy it doing what you are best at, slave jobs at slave wages. But I think that is too simplistic. I think the point of this is more like The Wizard of Oz, and Wonderful Life, to see the value of home and those who truly do love you, and the shallowness, indeed falsity, of public love for celebrity. And that is an interesting irony undergirding this moral story. Here you have all these celebrity actors and actresses, like Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Robert DeNiro, Jack Black and others who are starring in a story about how empty and worthless their own celebrity existence is. They are the fish on the “top of the reef” telling us it is a miserable lonely life up there. Do they even realize their own stories condemn them? Now, here is what I did not like about the movie: Lenny the shark is clearly an analogy for a homosexual and so his mafia family’s rejection of him is an analogy for the claim that traditional society is being intolerant of homosexuals. Lenny is fey and sensitive like a homosexual cliché out of Will and Grace, and likes to dress up “like a dolphin,” which is an obvious insult to sharks, like “dressing up like a woman” is to men. And the way he dresses is obviously a queer eye guy with his yellow scarf around his neck. He regurgitates familiar gay phrases, like, “I’m not like other sharks,” “My family doesn’t accept me,” and “I like to dress like a dolphin, so what?” At the end this “dressing up” thing becomes more pronounced when the head shark, Lenny’s father, finally does accept him “no matter what you eat or how you dress.” And then they show other sharks being “liberated” from their mean stodgey “sharkness” by dressing up in what can only be considered Mardi Gras Gay Pride costumes. This theme of “accepting” people with abnormal behaviors or abnormal “tastes” is a very common one in movies, and an obvious subversive one driven by those with an anti-Christian agenda. And I might also add, a rather hypocritical one as well. I think it’s time Hollywood should start practicing what it preaches and put aside its own prejudice and bigotry. I think Hollywood should start expressing tolerance toward Christians and traditional moral valued people, who are truly the hated outcast rejected oppressed victims in LaLa Land.

Shrek 2

Recommended for adults. Funny. Very funny. A good sequel, which is hard to do. It revisits the original movie’s theme that beauty and love is in the eye of the beholder, and trying to be someone you are not or measure up to society’s definitions of beauty and fashion is harmful. The problem I had with it is that it attempted to add to this theme the idea that cross-dressers and transvestites, and other perversities are part of the “goodness” of being yourself. Pinnochio wears women’s underwear and Cinderella’s wicked stepsister is actually a male cross-dresser or transvestite who owns a bar. The whole point is that, though given the magical opportunity to change herself and Shrek into beautiful “Royal Family” looking people rather than ogres, Princess Fiona chooses not to because that’s not who she married. It would be untrue to Shrek and herself. Well, the logical extension is to show other characters in the story who are victims of such social standards of “imposed” identities and fashion. These characters, then, by extension, are also reflections of the heroine’s own redemption (ala the Pinnochio and the wicked stepsister). It’s easy to see how the filmmakers considered bizarre perversions to be part and parcel of that redemption. Without an absolute moral standard to define good and bad social norms, ALL variety of human identity becomes legitimate. They just don’t realize the Frankenstein monster they’ve created.