Super 8 makes for super summer

Movies and Television

Make it two-for-two in the Back to the Past success for movies this summer. X-Men: First Class and now Super 8.

This J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible III) and Steven Speilberg (seriously?) collaboration brought the goods: a good old-fashioned ‘family’ thriller. There was suspense, humor, shocks, and mostly, kids running around being kids.

What’s wrong with today? I’ll tell you:

  • Today’s kids would all have iPhones, spoiled little brats.
  • Today kids have HD and flip cameras and MacBooks those videos would be slapped on YouTube or SOLD to highest news bidder faster than you can tweet it.
  • Today’s kids can’t possibly be left to their own devices for a summer, ride bikes or fend for their damn selves once in a while.
Elle Fanning, Joel Fanning as child ACTors in Super 8 © 2011 Paramount Pictures

Yeah I’m in a mood. But my waxing nostalgic rant has a point: in 2011, DFCS would be called on your ass if your otherwise resourceful, responsible 12-year-old snuck out 2-blocks to the neighbor kid’s house.

In the 70s or early 80s, kids were perhaps taught a little more self-reliance, some independence. They had hobbies; no computers and Internets, no TV in every room, no video games; they also weren’t over-scheduled with 12 after or summer school commitments and 2 cross-county soccer leagues.

Child actors who can act

Forget casting the most preternaturally pretty girl, cherubic tots and super-model handsome boys, Super 8 brought talent.

The boys: Geeky kid with braces and fetish for firecrackers, the dweeby friend, the taller actor with glasses all seemed like kids: they tease and needle each other, but are mostly fun and supportive.

The two lead boys are BFFs; one the emotional damaged type, the other the chunky misfit movie maker. He’s making a zombie flick for a competition and to give the movie ‘depth’ and emotion, he tosses in a love story. How cleverly meta.

For a love story, you need The Girl. She was very pretty and also damn good as a child playing a would-be child actress. And as night is swallowed by day, adding estrogen to the mix causes drama.

ET wants to go the hell home. And is pissed.

Major spoiler there, but there you go. Oh, and we did it… we being assholes who torture, abuse, manipulate. You know, ‘we’: the military, the government – the adults.

Final snark: As an homage goes, this was a nice fresh update, with some meta-zings to the establishment to show Hollywood, yes it CAN be done.

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