Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Raining Cats and Frogs (2003)
The first film from Jacques-Rémy Girerd the director of Mia and The Magoo, and who is also one of the producers of The Cat in Paris was Raining Cats and Frogs. Like those earlier two films the film is a visual treat.
The film is set in motion when the frogs deduce that another great deluge is coming and they warn a small boy, named Tom, and his friend. They then tell Tom's adopted father and mother. Eventually everyone, including animals from zoo,the friend's family runs the local zoo, end up in the grandfathers house which acts as a literal house boat. However complications arise when the carnivores tire of eating potatoes every meal and a wounded turtle arrives with plans of her own.
Wonderful family film is charming enough to be the sort of film that adults may treasure more than kids. It’s exactly the sort of film that I have frequently discovered thanks to the New York International Children’s Film Festival… which is how I discovered this when it had a several weekend run at the Festival’s weekend screenings at New York’s IFC Center.
Watching the film I was curious as to why this film isn't well known in the US until some late in the game twists sent the film into rather dark territory with the carnivores staging a take over. It's the sort of thing that I know many American parents might flip out over, with some semi-graphic violence (A bloody bite and some chickens meet a bad end) and some adult language. Still it's nice that the filmmakers treat the audience as if they were adults.
An aside: I find the New York International Children's Film Festival running of this film over say Takashi Miike's Ninja Kids rather troubling. There is this weird rippling effect through their choices of late in that they won't run some films because they might upset parents and yet they will run other films that in many ways are more upsetting.
As some of you know I spoke with one of the organizers after I saw Ninja Kids and he said that he didn't think they could run it because the film had cartoony violence which parents might object to. I then mentioned that the short film Hammerhead had parents freaking out when two women kissed. He shrugged and said they were trying not freak out the parents. Real but cartoon like won't play but animated but realistic will.
Ultimately I think you're going to freak out some parent at some point no matter what you do. I think the trick is going to be how do you freak out the least number of them. I would think you do that by showing good films, after that let the chips fall where they may since I think quality will win over those unhappy with what you're showing.
I'm guessing that there is some seriousness and a moral made it okay to have chickens being roasted with a blow torch, where the silliness of the Ninja Kids!!! coupled with poop and fart jokes worked against it.
Forgive me, I find a good film is a good film regardless. I also have the sense that had I had a child and I walked into Cats and Frogs with it's brightly painted colors and it's being portrayed or looking like a little "kids" film I would have been more upset to find death and destruction then had I wandered into something called Ninja Kids!!! and seen the violence implied by the title.
Thats just me of course.
Getting back to the subject at hand- If you get a chance to see Raining Cats and Frogs I suggest you give it a go. It's a beautiful film with a great story and some witty lines.
(ADDENDUM as those of you know Ninja Kids DID in fact play the NYICFF in 2012 so I stand pleasantly corrected)