Don’t save the cat. But don’t kill it, ironically or otherwise.

We went to go see Kubo and the Two Strings and it was beautifully done, but yet another “kids'” movie with terrifying moments that all the “kids'” movies are hip to. For a while there in the 90’s through to the early 2010’s the most physical contact you could have with the baddies was hugging it out. Now we’re back to death and dismemberment, but instead of 80’s beta tapes we have in HD detail. It wasn’t gratuitous, but there were a lot more toddler-sized kids in the audience than we expected

The movie was awesome. I took a comparative literature course in my second year that dealt with pre-confederation Canadian literature, and all the French books boiled down to “fuck the English” and all the English books boiled down to “Damn, winter’s cold”, most Japanese stories boil down to “life is fleeting”.

The art design should clean up the Oscars if there’s anything right and just in this world. I didn’t appreciate the one nisei guy (first foreign-born child of Japanese immigrants–in this case, George Takei) getting fourth billing, but I laughed at several places,  alone in my mirth in the theatre. When death came, the screen faded to white. The first time it happened, I thought, huh, that’s an interesting choice, but the second time it was like oh, right. Death in Japan is associated with white, not black. It was very southern Japan, though. I lived in northern Japan, and regionally, it’s as different as the east and west coasts of Canada, if not more so.

Take a look…

And even without seeing it, you could feel the beats of the story. For every up beat, there’s a downturn. Every easy looking path turns into an almost unpassable trail, and I blame Save the Cat 100%.

Save the Cat might have been great for 90’s buddy-cop movies (Like in Lethal Weapon…2? Where they *actually* saved a cat? I’d go back and rewatch but Mel Gibson literally makes me ill now) but it’s been thirty years since cats have been saved. We’ve seen every combination and permutation of it done honestly, aware, on the nose, ironically. The cat is probably as sick of it as we are. When your audience members know the beats of your story as well as you do, it leaves nothing amazing. It’s like going to a haunted house, knowing where the jump-scares are going to come from.

So leave the cat alone. I know this means someone else is coming up with a new formula and eventually in 30 years or so I’ll be saying don’t eat the banana, but at least I’ll have 20+ years of the permutations of that method to get tired of.

It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t without its flaws, but it was interesting and engaging for older kids and adults. One day we’re going to look back at our casting choices in the future and roll our eyes. And the stop motion art was breathtaking. Take a glimpse behind the scenes. Sugoi!

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