ADAM I would like to start by talking about the very complicated puzzle metaphysics of this. It really dumped it all in your lap at the beginning. And it was engrossing trying to figure it out but… I’m not sure that I have it totally figured out.
BROOM I had the same thought. Their new style is these elaborate metaphor-magic layered puzzles. This one made more sense to me than Frozen 2. I got closer to solving it.
ADAM What was the last one? It had, like, the five islands she had to sail to?
BROOM Raya and the Last Dragon.
ADAM That was what it was about, right?
BROOM There were five sectors of the land that distrusted each other.
BROOM My thought was: I’m doing all this adult work to try to figure out what’s a metaphor for what, and a kid doesn’t watch it that way. So I kept telling myself, “just sit back and take it in; watch the images; just let it sink in,” and then I’d think, “well, I’d just be totally confused, or I’d be making no sense of this…”
BETH But that’s not true!
BROOM …but I think that’s not true, yeah.
BETH Adults did make this, so some people do understand it…
BROOM Is it for kids?
BETH Yes, it is for kids, absolutely.
BROOM And it’s okay to imply that the grandfather was killed with a machete?
BETH The kids aren’t supposed to know how he was killed.
BROOM You see the guy on the horseback wield a big blade.
ADAM Was the grandfather killed? In a flashback, she destroyed all the horsemen with the candle. Was that after he was killed? That was her rage?
BROOM I wasn’t clear on whether that was really happening or metaphorical.
ADAM Was that a reference to some period in Colombian history?
BROOM I don’t know!
ADAM Probably yes, because everything was meticulously representative.
BROOM It was so vague that it seemed like it must be an underplayed allusion to some real atrocity. Rather than just “eh, some generic bad guys came.”
ADAM Right. Well, I spent the first twenty-five minutes like “okay, wait, how are they all related? and what are their powers?” I couldn’t tell if it was because the sound on my phone was so tinny that I couldn’t make out all the lyrics to her explanatory song. But it went by so fast, and I was like [scream of being overwhelmed].
BROOM That’s how I felt at the beginning too, totally overloaded.
BETH Isn’t there a joke about that in the song?
ADAM Yeah, they’re like “there are so many cousins, how do you keep them straight?” and then she’s like “you guys:” and then sings a really fast song about all of them. I mean, I think I got it now.
BROOM I got it by the end. There are three in the second generation, and I know who all their kids were.
ADAM Who was the third one? Besides the mother who has the healing powers with her arepas…
BROOM Right, that’s Mirabel’s mother.
ADAM … and Bruno…
BROOM And Bruno is her brother.
ADAM Oh, and the weather lady.
BROOM Right, Tía whatever, she’s the third sibling.
ADAM I thought Dolores who could hear really well was also a Tía, but she’s not, she’s a cousin.
BROOM She was the daughter of… that woman.
BETH Of the weather lady.
BETH Okay, I believe you.
BROOM As was the little boy.
ADAM For a while I thought that the hot guy was a cousin, but he’s just a dope.
BROOM On the telenovela, there was an incestuous relationship with an aunt, so.
BETH Right. That was interesting.
BROOM An interesting thing to throw in as an aside.
ADAM So I spent the first third of it like that, and then I spent a long time being like “ugh, her family’s awful.” Just feeling really bad. They really piled that on. Then it was like “oh, her super-power is listening.” That was a little deflating, when I realized that was where they were going with it.
BROOM Clearly that’s supposed to be Discussion Group Question Number One: What was Mirabel’s power?
BETH Is it empathy?
ADAM Yeah, basically. She was like the family therapist.
BROOM I thought the key line was when the kids say “maybe your power is being in denial,” and you think it’s a joke, and then actually her power is not being in denial. Because everyone else in the family is in denial. And the grandmother’s denial is what breaks the house. Or, but — what exactly is causing the cracks?
BETH I don’t know!
BROOM In the metaphor, the grandmother’s insistence that everything is perfect and magical is her way of coping with the trauma, and she imposes this on everyone. But if that’s the metaphor, it means that none of the magic ever really existed; it was all actually part of this coping delusion. Except the magic is real in this movie! The magic is a good thing about the family too.
ADAM Right, but… the grandmother’s rigid perfectionism was the real villain. I kind of miss villains. It would be refreshing to have a Disney movie again where the villain was, like, a bad person. As opposed to, like…
BETH A concept.
ADAM Yeah, climate change, or failure to understand…
BETH But don’t you think the animators have taken it upon themselves to fix the world with cartoons? It just seems like what they’re trying to do now.
ADAM I agree. It just would be refreshing from a narrative perspective to not do that.
BROOM But that’s a serious question: have we outgrown villains? Is there a correct way to do villains? They can’t do Ursula anymore because it villainizes… whatever. Divine.
BETH Fat people.
BROOM Homosexuals, right? It villainizes drag queens.
ADAM Yeah, Ursula and Scar back to back were kind of, you know…
BROOM And you’re sympathetic to that critique, right?
ADAM Yeah, although… they’re also charismatic and fun.
BROOM Right. Even though they’re the villain, you still get to enjoy what they are.
ADAM There’s got to be a way to have a villainous person who’s not a slander on a minority group. There’s got to be some happy medium here. This also continued the recent Disney tradition of being extremely meticulous in their cultural depiction of a country. Which was good, I found it satisfying. My Colombian friend at a party was like “they depicted our food!” He literally said that. He was very tickled by it. He was like “that’s what we eat!”
BROOM I was thinking: would I feel condescended to if I were the target culture? Luckily, I don’t think they’ll ever feel it’s appropriate to make a Jewish-colored movie, so I won’t have to.
ADAM You mean because An American Tail already took that?
BROOM I just meant because it’s too touchy. But you’re right, An American Tail absolutely did it. And, yeah, I felt mildly condescended to by that. I was imagining that if I were Colombian and I saw this movie saying [as though singing:] “Colombia is a theme park / it’s so perfect / it’s so wonderful” I might be like [wince and shrug].
BETH I don’t know; they make it so beautiful and colorful.
BROOM They sure do.
BETH I can see going both ways on that.
ADAM It mostly felt harmless. It’s just kind of a funny tic that they have, but it didn’t bother me. I liked the capybara in the vision scene. I liked the Spanish-language music. A lot of the local color was fun. It’s just eccentric.
BROOM “Tic” is right. It’s like they can’t stop themselves from doing this.
BETH It seems like they have a checklist of “what cultures do we need to represent because they’re under-represented?” There’s some kind of drive to show people the world. It’s a Disney thing. “It’s a Small World After All! Let’s really make it a whole world!”
ADAM I agree. The drive to be extremely authentic, and the drive to be world-healing, unifying, problem-solving… are related. It would be hard for Disney in the current day to make Ratatouille, which is just silly but fun.
BROOM Wasn’t Ratatouille actually on a very similar theme? Your family doesn’t think you make any sense, and you have to find the place where your talents come to light?
ADAM Yes, but it was a lot less… official, let’s say. It felt like a lighter touch. Or the original Toy Story or whatever.
BROOM Well this definitely did not have a light touch. It was nouveau Broadway to the max.
ADAM Just to be clear, I did enjoy this. I really liked the music; I liked the mix of big Broadway-ness with pop and Latin music touches. I liked the song about feeling pressure.
BETH I thought that was the best song.
ADAM I liked the “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” song.
BETH But I thought some of the songs were really lackluster and trying too hard.
ADAM Maybe I already forgot about those. Which ones?
BETH There’s one early on where she’s like “I feel lost…”
BROOM When she’s not in the family photo and she starts singing a self-pity song.
ADAM Oh yeah.
BETH Yeah, not a good song.
ADAM I thought “oh, her power is pausing time!” But it wasn’t.
BROOM Halfway through I thought “oh, her power is giving people the cue lines for their songs.” I almost thought that was literally going to be her power. Like “we sing when you’re around,” or something. But no, luckily it wasn’t that.
ADAM I liked it when Luisa was like “oh, I try so hard.” But when Isabela did the exact same thing, it was like “uh, guys, try a little harder than this.”
BROOM Isabela’s song was so much “Let It Go.” It had exactly the same content. But it wasn’t as catchy.
ADAM It was totally unearned, too. Why didn’t the shapeshifting guy get a song about how he can never just be himself?
BETH Because this was all about women. They really didn’t want to focus on men at all, I feel like. Yeah, Bruno’s in it, but… it was for girls. During that song with Isabela, I thought “boys are not going to care about this.”
BROOM As a boy, I’ll say: it didn’t even occur to me until now.
BETH I’m not saying men, I’m saying little boys. I mean, they probably will and I’m probably wrong.
ADAM But it is true that it was very much about foregrounding female relationships. Which again is a recent Disney theme. Like remember in the last one, everyone was a lesbian. And Frozen was clearly about that. And that also feels like a Disney over-correction to the princess narrative.
ADAM “We, Disney, are trying harder.” I didn’t mind it, but again, it just feels like part of the official seriousness of this mode.
BROOM Yeah, it’s excessively calculated and conscious, and everything is bright foreground. And there’s a zillion cuts; the camera is constantly like “this shot is about this BUT THIS SHOT IS ABOUT THIS but this shot is about this” and the songs telegraph everything. It’s continuously brightly lit, just ideas and beats. And we’ve been complaining about that for 20 years of these movies, that they’re heading in this direction. I thought that, within this style, this one is a more or less coherent offering that would probably be entertaining to a kid. And seemed to have a good message about families.
ADAM One of the songs is a hit, right? Which one?
BROOM The only one I’ve heard people talking about is “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” For some reason.
BETH I really don’t know. But my phone was identifying all of them.
BROOM You couldn’t stop it from telling you what they were?
BETH It just does that. So it was like, “oh, my phone knows about this song.”
ADAM “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” reached number four on the Billboard chart?
BROOM That’s crazy.
BETH That’s so weird.
ADAM Super weird. And then “Surface Pressure” also broke into the top ten on the Billboard.
BETH That was a better song.
BROOM That was the song during which I thought “I’m trying so hard to understand what this all means; why don’t I just watch it like a kid.” But then if I were a kid, it’s all surreal scariness. It’s like Pink Elephants madness. Would I even understand why I was seeing any of these things? It’s explicitly metaphors! There are rocks falling on her back and the house is turning upside down. If I’m not trying to interpret the metaphor, I’m just watching insanity.
BETH Yeah but I do think kids can take stuff like that in. They’re subconsciously aware of the metaphor.
BROOM That’s what I was asking myself, do these images work on that level. And you think if I were six years old I’d just sort of get what everything was in this movie?
BETH Yeah, I do.
ADAM The idea of being too hard on yourself… her problem seemed more grown-up than Isabela’s problem of, like, “I don’t want to do flowers, I want to do cactuses!”
BETH Well, I think the problem of feeling like you’re not as special as everyone around you can set in at a young age.
ADAM Oh, I agree about Mirabel’s problem. I meant Luisa’s problem of “I’m such a pleaser. I’m strong but I’m really a doormat.”
BROOM Did she mention Abuela whatever-her-name-was in that song?
ADAM She didn’t have to.
BROOM Because it seemed like that mostly came out of nowhere. Did we ever witness the grandmother being the driving force of everyone’s neuroses? Not really.
BETH No, and I don’t think that comes through to kids. It didn’t even really come through to me. It took me until the end of the movie to get to it.
BROOM So when a kid sees Mirabel say “the house is cracking because of you!” and then everything collapses… would they be like, “no it isn’t!”?
BETH They would just be like “oh, okay, I guess she doesn’t like the house.” I don’t think kids will get that part. But I don’t know.
ADAM Who had the dumbest power? Probably the flower girl. But it wasn’t really a power, it was just a manifestation of her nature. Probably the listening power is the worst.
BROOM But that at least had superhero uses. The weather power was just kind of a sight gag.
ADAM Yeah, she didn’t use it to do anything. And the mother: her arepas just heal physical injury? Or they make you feel better? I wasn’t clear.
BETH Well, physical for sure.
ADAM Right, because she can heal bee-stings and cuts.
BETH And broken arms.
ADAM Yeah, I was surprised she didn’t get to do more with that. Like a tiger mauling. The little boy’s power was clearly the best.
BROOM The basic metaphor here, that you have these magical powers but they’re sort of burdensome because they get in between you and your true self, that’s the premise of Frozen. They were just doing it again. [ed.: in Frozen the magic powers were the true self and trying to keep them in check was the burden]. This felt like sort of a sequel to Frozen in a way that Frozen 2 didn’t successfully.
ADAM Yeah, I still don’t totally remember what Frozen 2 was about.
BROOM No one knows! No one knows what Frozen 2 is about.
ADAM So in Googling this just now, it referred to this as “Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit score,” and obviously it sounded exactly like Lin-Manuel Miranda, but…
BETH He wrote the songs.
ADAM I thought it said in the credits that someone else was the composer of the score.
BROOM The score is by someone else, and I am now obligated to record a dorky podcast where we talk about the Oscar nominees for best score, so we will talk about that. I already forget the person’s name. Gabriela something. I don’t know. But the songs are by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
ADAM That makes sense. They sound just like him.
BROOM I think the songs were my least favorite thing in the movie. The beauty of this place, and the joyous family feeling, were really good and had their own identity, but then the songs would kick in and I’d feel like “here comes some standard Broadway patterns.” Like, [high-energy Broadway song delivery:] “I just wish that I could get outta here!” It doesn’t sound like the actual feeling of someone wishing they could get out of here, it’s just repeating a trope. And I was a little disappointed that Lin-Manuel didn’t try to invent something. It just seemed like meeting a bunch of assignments.
ADAM Oh I don’t know. The two songs that we talked about were good. And I thought that the Spanish love song about the Abuela and Abuelo…
BETH Yeah, I thought that was good.
BROOM Yeah, that was the best song. It was touching.
ADAM It was almost slow enough for me to follow the words, but not quite.
BROOM I can only understand like three words of Spanish.
BETH I had subtitles on and it was translating it for me, so I know what the whole thing was about.
ADAM It was about them being in love. And butterflies.
BROOM So the relationship of this family to, like, the peasantry… what was with the town and then the family? Were they aristocrats? Was that like the manor house and the townspeople all lived on their land? How did that work?
ADAM Yeah, I was creeped out by that. I thought they were, like, magic aristocrats, but then they have to suck up to the Guzmáns for Mariano’s hand?
BETH That didn’t make sense. I think they were ostracized in some way. People feared them because they had magic power, maybe?
ADAM But then everyone was like, “actually we’ll help you rebuild your house.”
BETH “Oh, we love you!”
BROOM Yeah, they served an important role at the end, to rebuild the house without magic so that the house could become magic again. It was another one of these riddles, of “what does this magic mean, what does it correspond to in the real world?” Maybe nothing.
ADAM What happens at the end with the doorknob? Does that just mean that she still doesn’t have any magic powers, but it’s okay, the house is cool with her now? And why did her door get covered in sand at her ceremony?
BROOM My theory is: she couldn’t open the door in the house, because her gift was emotional honesty, being real. And there was denial in the house, so she was on the outside of this house of trying-too-hard. And then when the house is real at the end, it’s all her house because that’s her realm.
BETH Yeah, you’re totally right, and I did not put that together. That’s correct.
BROOM Is it? It’s just a stretch to try to make sense of it.
BETH I think it is. And that’s why it was so upsetting for her grandmother.
ADAM It feels a little jury-rigged.
BETH I mean, yeah.
ADAM I did like the magic Winchester-Mystery-House quality of the house. That was cool.
BETH You can talk to the house and ask it to present stairs to you, and it will.
ADAM And that it talked with its floorboards…
BETH Yeah, it shrugged.
ADAM I liked how cute the animals were. The rats were actually pretty sleek-looking and cute. They had those big cute eyes. They didn’t look like cartoon rats, they looked like CGI rats. But cute.
BROOM I thought all the tactile elements were really good, and that’s a big part of what they’re selling, and I’m happy for it. Their flesh tones were maybe a little more doll-like than they had to be, but I got used to it.
ADAM Oh, I liked Mirabel’s face. I liked that she didn’t have giant eyes, like an Elsa.
BROOM I liked how she looked a lot. I enjoyed her being the center of the movie. But this thing about beginnings: all Disney movies now start with a myth about the past, told vaguely, that you will have to re-understand much later, and until then you’re kind of waiting in confusion. And then an enormous overload of sights and sounds and explanation, for ten minutes, where you don’t understand what’s going on. They consistently do this. They must think it’s the right thing to do. But it really feels like for the last six of these of these movies, I start out feeling like [clutching head and concentrating:] “what? what? what?”
ADAM And does it make you want to rewatch the movie because now that you know, you’ll get all the easter eggs?
BETH Yes! Because these kids watch Frozen 200 times. I think that is deliberate.
BROOM It’s overloaded for the DVD/Netflix generation. DVD, what am I saying. Blu-ray…
BETH No! For the kids who are streaming this.
ADAM I just watched it on my phone!
BETH The kids who watch it every day after school.
BROOM So there’s no reason to make a movie that makes sense the first time, anymore. They just need to make a movie that makes people intrigued enough to watch it again.
BETH Yeah. I guess if they overload it, it’s more rewarding once you know what all those things are. Some pleasure center is getting pushed, on repeat viewings.
BROOM Videogame aesthetics are so basic to this stuff now.
BETH Oh my god, it’s so videogamey. I thought that too.
BROOM And that’s part of videogames: “we’re not here to necessarily tell you a story. We’re doing something with the shape of a story, but what it’s really about is DING DING DING DING DING!” Collecting the little goodies. But, you know, Raya we complained was just a stupid videogame; the videogame stuff in this was actually all nice, and well-paced. When she had a pointless Indiana Jones adventure, it all looked fun, it went at the right speed. I didn’t really object.
ADAM Yeah, I thought this was much better than Raya, and it was much better than Frozen 2, and it was much better than Ralph Breaks the Internet.
BROOM Or the other Ralph. This is probably my favorite since Frozen. Moana is the other one that’s in contention, I guess.
BETH I liked Moana. Actually I would put Moana above this.
BROOM Yeah, Moana might be a little calmer. I did kind of want this to calm down. It did seem a little ironic that a movie about people who are more neurotic than they thought was edited so spastically.
ADAM Moana has only two characters, really, so you have time to get to know them. I mean, we got to know Mirabel, but then Luisa had one song, and Isabela had one song, and the Abuela had one song…
BROOM And Bruno had his scene…
ADAM Yeah, it was too many people to really settle into. Although I appreciate that it was in service of her gift of healing everyone.
BROOM I don’t even mean the number of scenes, just the directorial style. It’s so fast. I felt like they could just do a master shot and let a scene play out. Everything looks so beautiful, I’d be happy to look at it. It doesn’t have to be constantly cutting to a close-up and then cutting to the reverse angle and then cutting to a jokey reframing… I don’t know.
BETH You sound like an old man.
BROOM I do, but then I think, well…
ADAM We are!
BROOM … movies weren’t like this! For a long time!
ADAM I’ve probably said this before, but MARK finds it very hard to watch any movie from before the year 2000 with me, because…
BROOM Too boring?
ADAM Well, too much setup. And it is true. Like, I sat down to watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with him at one point, and there’s no Toontown craziness until an hour in. There’s the private eye stuff, and then Jessica Rabbit comes into his office, and… it’s drawn out. And then finally when he goes to Toontown, it’s overwhelming. But today the movie would start in Toontown.
BROOM Which I think is a mistake! Not as an old man, just as a person who thinks about how movies should be. It’s cool that they save Toontown for halfway through the movie! There’s still things that can surprise you halfway through the movie! Now Disney movies are like the trailer for themselves, at the beginning. They want to show you all the stuff. And maybe that has to do with streaming; maybe it has to do with the fact that they know someone might turn it off in the first five minutes if they’re not hooked. But you never get to have the sense of surprise later. The pacing is immediately BLAAAAM in your face, and then once you get to halfway, they slow down and go, like, “okay okay, so, we have to tell you a story now, and in this story I guess people say things to each other…” And that’s just a weird pacing. I always like the second halves better than the first halves.
ADAM [to MARK] You want to make a cameo appearance? We were just talking about you.
BROOM We were talking about the youth.
ADAM I was just observing that you find it difficult to watch pre-2000 movies because they—… He closed the door on me.
ADAM He’s in his work clothes, he wants to change.
BROOM He could have said something.
ADAM I did think Mariano was really hot. It’s nice that he gets two seconds to fall in love with Dolores.
BROOM Because as soon as they say it, the audience goes “all right, fine, I guess he’s gonna be with her.” And then the movie takes care of it exactly that fast. That’s how these movies are. They don’t want to show you what it’s like when something happens. They just want to show you: “and then it happens, okay, it happened.”
ADAM I liked that Luisa was obviously a lesbian, but I wish she had gotten to…
BETH Be a lesbian.
BROOM Maybe if you watch it seven times, you’d notice the one scene where in the background on the left she’s making eyes at the woman from the village.
ADAM That might be why she feels stressed out all the time, because of the expectations of her family. Who was that actress?
BROOM Who were any of the actors? I have no idea who was in this movie.
ADAM I assume they were all Latino, but were they all Colombian? Let’s see. [he looks it up:] I don’t know a lot of these people. Although Maluma was Mariano, that’s funny.
BETH I don’t know who that is.
ADAM He’s a hot pop star. He stars in Marry Me with Jennifer Lopez. He’s a megastar from Colombia, I think. John Leguizamo was Bruno.
BROOM When he started talking I finally thought it might be an actor I know, but I couldn’t place it. Now I see.
ADAM Wilmer Valderrama was Agustín. Who’s Agustín?
BETH The dad.
ADAM I don’t know a lot of these people. Stephanie Beatriz was Mirabel?
BROOM I’ve never heard of her. [reading Wikipedia:] From Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the movie of In the Heights.
ADAM We started to watch In the Heights but MARK was so embarrassed by its overwhelming Broadwayness that he made me stop.
BROOM Even his youth is not enough to compensate for how Broadway has gotten. I mean, BETH, what did you think of this movie? Did you think it was annoying? You haven’t said.
BETH I thought it was very lush and pretty to look at, and I wanted to be inside it. I wanted to be in that house. And I found the story to be… a little bit annoying, yeah. I was a little annoyed by it, all in all. Mainly because it’s so clear to me that Disney is trying so hard to make up for what I think it perceives as a lack in socialization of children. So I feel like, “okay, it’s great that you’re doing this…” And probably it is necessary. There’s no Mr. Rogers anymore, so Disney is trying to be Mr. Rogers. And it’s doing it in a really bombastic way that I don’t think is actually useful. Well, let me take that back a little bit: I do think it’s useful… but not in the way that someone like Mr. Rogers was useful. So I’m not sure, ultimately, what I think about it. I think it’s great that they’d doing that public service, but they should have more fun and try a little bit less hard.
ADAM I second that.
BROOM I think it’s a thing I’ve been saying for a long time, since the movies from 2000 or something, whenever it felt like the Little Mermaid era had given way to the next thing. At some point they realized that if they make a movie, it’s going to end up having that kind of a role in kids’ lives, and that brings a kind of responsibility with it. They’d always had that responsibility, but they suddenly became self-conscious about it and started trying to meet it in a calculated way, which is different from doing it instinctively like every storyteller does. So it’s this kind of “public service announcement” dynamic that colors everything.
BETH And I think they’re trying to cover for that by making it so quick-cut and colorful and stuffed full of candy.
BROOM The writing in this was definitely more thoughtful and more affecting, but it still had these little moments. When she said “you’ve never even had a bad hair day,” I was like, “you should never say ‘bad hair day’ in a movie again! That’s forty years old at this point, that’s so lame. Don’t say ‘bad hair day.'”
ADAM Do you read the Rex Parker crossword puzzle blog every day?
BROOM I rarely read it because it’s so cranky.
ADAM It’s so dyspeptic, yeah.
BROOM I enjoy the crossword pretty much no matter what, so then to read someone saying that actually it’s terrible because of something that made no difference to me… it puts me off. Do you read it regularly?
ADAM I’ve stopped because it’s such a downer. But one of the things that he complains about that I do think is funny is when they use slang that’s twenty years old. Or even ten years old.
BROOM But that’s had a counterproductive effect on the New York Times crossword, just like I’m saying about the Disney movies, because they have heard him, there’s no question, and now the New York Times crossword puzzle is full of “ooh I’m the first person to get BAE in, woo-hoo for me.”
ADAM BAE is in like once a week.
BROOM Yeah. FOMO. Whatever. People think they’re so cool because they get things off Twitter.
ADAM [to MARK:] Do you have any thoughts about the pacing of movies today as opposed to twenty years ago?
MARK Well, I feel like there’s some pushback in longer movies recently. I don’t know if it’s working.
BROOM MARK, as someone who dislikes when older movies waste time setting things up: do you feel like that’s just an objective problem with movies that was eventually fixed — they didn’t know how to tell stories the right way, and now they do — or do you feel like it’s just your personal taste?
ADAM (It’s a trap.)
BROOM No, it’s not! It’s a completely honest question, either answer is fine.
MARK I think it’s fifty-fifty. I’m gonna push back on “my taste,” and speak more for people consuming faster-paced media generally. For example, TikTok. You know, if it’s gonna take you fifteen minutes to get that serotonin hit, you might do something else. But I do feel like a lot of the setup in old movies was just bad. It could be done better. There’s a lot of time wasted on setup in bad older romcoms.
ADAM We do watch a lot of TikTok, and it does change you, I have to say.
MARK We’re trying to quit.
BROOM Oh yeah, YouTube and Instagram have messed with me. I don’t have TikTok but I get how it is. But it’s part of the TikTok culture to shruggingly say “this is killing our attention spans, ha ha,” and to talk openly about serotonin and recognize that it’s having this druglike effect. Which suggests to me that the people who are into it are still holding on to some sense that this isn’t how things should be, that we’re just kind of caught in the loop of it. So that’s what I was asking about movies.
ADAM Well, we are adults, so.
MARK But there’s something different about it. Like “oh, I’ve been watching too much TikTok; watching a movie sounds like a nice change of pace.”
BROOM So if a movie seems too slow… do we aspire to be able to stick with it? I guess there’s no one answer. It changes day to day even for me.
MARK Some people like to feel like they put work in. They’re proud that they put the work in and were able to muster some joy out of something that was critically acclaimed. Some people like the punishment.
ADAM This is “conservatives love speedboats, liberals love kayaks.”
BROOM Have you ever watched something and felt like “this is overloading me, this is too much, this is spastic, cool it”?
ADAM Wait an hour, until after our TikTok binge.
MARK I don’t know. Something that was just too plotty?
ADAM Too much intercutting, too much story information piled on too quickly…
BROOM If they introduce ten characters in five seconds. Which happens in these Disney movies! [as though singing:] “here’s this person and here’s this person and here’s this person and here’s this person!” Have you ever watched something and thought “what? shut up, I’m not following this, you should have said fewer things.”
MARK I guess that does exist. I don’t think it’s too common, but the impression you just did, that sounds like a lot. Yeah, you can stall out. It comes to the same conclusion as too long of a setup: you lose interest because it’s too much. But I guess I’d have to see.
[we read the New York Times review, heckle it a bit, and then things devolve as we read about… Strange World, scheduled for release on November 23, 2022!]