Sunday, May 02, 2010

Monty the Cat & Toothless the Dragon

My baby kitten Montgomery hasn't been a kitten in a decade. This is my favorite photo of his childhood to your left. He is 11 years old now. He's had a lot of health problems lately so I just got back from yet another expensive trip to the vet. But anything for my baby. If it's between him and the rent, I'll be looking for a comfortable cardboard box big enough for both of us to sleep in.

All of which probably made me a sucker for How to Train Your Dragon's pet-love sentiment. I finally saw the hit yesterday. (I'm not used to being so behind the curve but I got caught up in festival world for a month there.) What is Toothless other than a scaly superpowered cat and what is Hiccup other than a boy who really loves his cat/dragon?

I really responded to the story for these personal reasons but it also surprised me. I hadn't read a lot about it so I didn't really know the plot outside of the what the trailer offers.

It's surprising to find a movie -- even a cartoon --that actually champions a boy for being sensitive and smart rather than impulsive and athletic (though Hiccup has those more traditional traits, too... the movie just downplays that he does). That the movie has been such a hit with moviegoers despite being far less gender-rigid than most animated films is a bigger surprise.

But before I get carried away assuming some kinder, gentler thread in moviegoing emerging after years of increasingly extreme bloodlust, I should note that when I went to buy my ticket, the 11 year old girl in front of me in line excitedly asked for Nightmare on Elm Street. So same as it ever was. Only I suspect I got the way sweeter deal as movies go. Even though I had to buy one of those ridiculously expensive 3D tickets.

I fear that the movie industry has basically given up on increasing the moviegoing habit. They're willing to price themselves out of true relevance just like Broadway did. $17.50 was way too much to pay for the movie even though I loved it. And the fact that I'm saying that, someone who believes in the sanctity of moviegoing and finds it many times preferable to home viewing, should be worrisome to the industry. If you are even willing to alienate the people who do still go to the movies every single week... who exactly will keep going to the movies? Or will everyone eventually do like my non-movie oriented family where they'll see like 1 or max 2 movies in a theater per year and otherwise watch only television?

But back to Tame Your Dragon for two hot seconds.

One. I want to adopt Toothless. He's my new dream pet. But I can't because Monty is a jealous boy. He will straight up attack if there's a stuffed animal anywhere near me. No joke.

Two. What the hell was with the Scottish accents for Vikings? Vikings are Scandinavian! Now, I suppose there is an argument about cross-pollination and Norse control of Scotland to be made but Viking mythology belongs to Scandinavia. Just because both begin with "Sc" doesn't mean they're completely interchangeable. That's like assuming that if a bitch is from Chicago that's like being from China. Or that New Yorkers are impossible to separate from New Zealanders. I think if you drop Woody Allen into the Shire or ask Frodo to intern for Miranda Priestley, there's going to be chaos!

Hollywood's confusion about geography is just as funny as New York's. That happens to 'center of the world' places. One of my favorite New Yorker covers of all time illustrates this (lol). Maybe Hollywood needs a cheatsheet?


Michael B. said...

What I've learned is that you have to look for bargains for cheap movie tickets.

At Costco, for example, you can get 2 AMC tickets for $16 and there's no expiration or restrictions. But when you go to AMC to see something like How To Train Your Dragon there's a surcharge (like on top of any movie tickets for IMAX or 3-D). So instead of paying $17.50 for that movie, you would have ended up paying $13.50, saving $4.

You just have to be a smart shopper or movie watcher.

Michael B. said...

Oh, that being said How To Train Your Dragon is my favorite of the year so far.

It exceeded all my expectations and it's nice to see that it's doing so well after it's Opening Weekend (especially since Dreamworks stock's tumbled the day after its "soft" opening.)


well it shouldn't be that much work to go see a movie. And I've never understood "service" charges when you pay for things in advance and get the tickets out of machines. They don't even have to pay someone hourly to help you.

i'm feeling very grumpy about moviegoing which is so sad because it's such a love in my life. But i really think the greed of studios and theater chains is ruining it. They used to claim you had to pay high concession prices because that's how they made their money like TV which makes money from commericals. But now it's not that much different than watching TV since they also show commercials.

so what is the moviegoer getting out of it? They should be rewarding people for going to movies. Not punishing them.

Christine said...

So sorry about Montgomery . I went through extended, expensive vet issues with my dog last year, so I feel your pain.

Also, yes to movie theaters making it less and less worth it to visit. In addition to the surcharges and commercials, I'm annoyed by how tiny the screens are and how you can usually hear the sound from the movie next door bleeding over.

juligen said...

Oh Nat, I feel your pain.

My old dog is blind (had cataracts in both eyes), has skin problems (wich makes me spent tons of money in special shampoos and drugs) and now he developed hips dysplasia and needs to take anti-inflammatory drugs.

Ugh, but no matter all the trouble and the money all I want is to see him happy and painfree.

I need see this film as soon as possible. But If I lived in US there was no way I would give that much money to see it.

Robert said...

Sorry about your cat, I hope and know it will pull through!

And How to Train Your Dragon probably is the best movie of the year so far. So much fun, and just so cute.

James T said...

It's funny how the ears are big almost since birth.

When I think about it I wonder why I love my cat. He really thinks only about himself! But so what? He's my adorable evil child.

KitCon said...

Monty may not be a kitten but he's still young in cat years. Hope he recovers fully. I love pets and have cats too so the movie resonated with me in much the same way.
I also agree with your point re studio greed. I went to the first Sunday show so I could see Dragons at a discount.

Steven said...

Michael's got a point though.

If there isn't anything you can do why don't you try and beat the system? And the service charges are like how they charge an extra $5 for Imax. It's just how it is. It's definitely wrong, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Joe Reid said...

I want a poster-sized version of that New Yorker cover.


joe -- isn't it great? We had a friend that had it poster sized and framed and it never ceased to bring a smile. I particularly loved Jersey just being a shoreline. That's it. The Jersey shore. just this brown strip. ha ha.

Dustin Morningstar said...

In Oklahoma City there's a theatre with 20 screens that shows new releases $5.50 per ticket. The matinee price is $3.75. And it's not even a bad theatre!

I'm not sure about their 3D prices, but still... That's fantastic.

Kimberly said...

...ask Frodo to intern for Miranda Priestley, there's going to be chaos!

LOL- an actual spit-take.
And, as the owner of a 16yr old American Cocker Spaniel who is half deaf, I feel ya on the expensive and frequent vet visits (and the, ahem, sleeping in a box if need be).

Anonymous said...

you couldn't just watch the 2-D version? not sure about in NYC, but all the local theaters are showing HTTYD in both 2-D and 3-D.

Jake D said...

So Up and How to Train Your Dragon have identical RT scores. Up has a much better metacritic (88 vs. 74).

I haven't seen Dragon yet, but here's my question: what gave Up the status to be immediately considered a BP contender when no one has even breathed "Dragon" and "Best Picture" in the same sentence yet? Dragon is a massive hit- why isn't it going there?

Pixar being overdue? Up's emotional gravitas? Dragon's plot not being terribly original?

Just something I've been pondering.


Jake D -- because Pixar is like Meryl Streep. Immediately taken seriously no matter what they've done.

JoFo said...

Awww. Me and my 16yr old cat, and love of my life thus far, who is sitting at my feet right now thank you for this post.

I also loved How To Train Your Dragon. Great example of how 3D can be used well, but I do agree the prices of tickets are absurd. I paid $20 for my ticket.

I had a similat reaction regarding toothless. I came out of the cinema wanting him to be my pet so bad.

Alison Flynn said...

Aw, what a cutey Monty was. He still is - I remember the pic you posted of you holding him when the theme was "hot screen icons photographed with cats". :)

Alison Flynn said...

I hope he feels better soon.

troyhopper said...

I hate to be joining this conversation so late, but I have to say that I doubt I'll see another movie this year as surprisingly exceptional as "How to Train Your Dragon." I went in with literally no expectations, either good or bad, and left so incredibly impressed. It works so well on so many levels and is probably the best action flick I've seen in a while.

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. My little brother (not so little at 25 and 6'2, but still...) and I went, and giggled and laughed and welled up in all the right spots. We also walked out desperately wanting dragons as pets, and both of us remarked how much like a cat Toothless was. Between him and the Cheshire Cat from Alice, my own kitty has been getting a lot of extra treats from me this spring!

I absolutely hear you about living in a cardboard box if your cat needs the money. I've told my brother that if he keeps letting the cat out and Darcy should get hit by a car (heaven forfend!) I would spend rent money on a vet in a nanosecond. Curiously, he is now scrupulous about closing the door...

I wish you the best of luck with your furry companion, Nat. Bless.

OH! And the Scottish accents cracked me up as well. Maybe it was because Gerard Butler was the voice of the father? I have no idea.

Joey said...

I have a fat black cat named Samson that I knew resembled Toothless the first time I saw HTTYD (this thought was later confirmed by my friends on subsequent viewings with me). I too applaud the movie for allowing a young male protagonist to be sensitive and "non-manly" despite everyone telling him to be otherwise.