By: Henry J. Fromage (Six Pack) –
Once , when I was around ten years old I went to what had to be the saddest circus ever. All week I was anticipating tigers, clowns, and if I was lucky tigers eating clowns, because that’s what the poster I saw promised. What I got instead was a four person circus family half-heartedly juggling and performing three foot tall “high wire” acts. Instead of being angry, this broke my heart. I’ve never seen the existential tragedy that is a small circus so perfectly captured again until I saw the first minutes of Mirrormask.
There’s something unbearably sad about this
Helenais a teen girl who’s realized after years of being dragged around with her father’s troupe that all those kids who want to run away to the circus are dipshits. When her mother falls in and the circus falls into financial peril, she decides to go to sleep outside, or maybe a transdimensional doppelganger steals her life and banishes her to an uncanny dreamworld. One of these things happens.
The screen play was by Neil Gaiman, who’s shown with Coraline and Stardust that he can craft an engrossing imaginative tale… most of the time. Anyway, there’s bits of good stuff in here that reminds you of him when he’s on the top of his game. Also, if you love scaring children, and who doesn’t, then this is a great “family film” bait ‘n switch. For one, they’ll never want to pet a stray cat again. Last, props to Rob Brydon, who does appear to have a movie career separate from Steve Coogan after all.
Can’t wait to hear Coogan’s opinion on this.
The opening sequence is a flurry of low production value circus shots with a heavy jazz flute score overlaid. I don’t know if there’s a beer in existence strong enough to counteract mime clowns + jazz flute.
Fuck. This. Guy.
Our first meeting withHelenainvolves a bitchy freakout on her mom, in which all of the film’s “themes” are laid out on the table. Yep, this is another hamfisted teen vs. parents allegory, if you can even call spelling everything out like a fucking speak ‘n spell an allegory.
When we get to the dreamworld, we learn precisely how shittyHelena’s imagination is. Everything is somber greys and browns and angular ugliness. To top it all off, it’s all rendered in CGI that became dated the instant it was printed, and edited by a public access channel layoffs victim.
Hey look, more soft jazz. And it’s an entire several minute musical interlude this time. Fuck you ears, I don’t need you that bad.
Right track, but no time for half measures.
A beer needs to go to the fact that Neil Gaiman churned out something so ugly and hackneyed. Coraline was a more visually engaging , more well thought out version of this story, and Mirrormask is particularly disappointing in light of that. To be fair, Coraline came out after this, and maybe reflects lessons learned. Doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to this one, though.
I suppose I’m just not “whimsical” enough. Honestly, I don’t know who this was for. Teenage girls? Middle age men who think they can get inside the mind of teenage girls? The large criminals who made those men their prison bitches? Anyway, if you’re in the mod for something like this, just go watch Coraline again, or if you insist on live action, Tideland. Better yet, buy those advance tickets to Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you see a color that isn’t drab or washed out
Take a Drink: for every poorly rendered CGI monstrosity (this is a lot of drinking, folks)
Drink Heavily: throughout the opening credits sequence