Archive for June, 2010

Concerning A Troll in Central Park (and Why It’s Bad)

Like many people on the internet for any extended period of time, I’m familiar with the Nostalgia Critic. He’s a very funny reviewer and his site is filled with very talented people (even if some of them are criminally under-appreciated, which is another topic I’m mulling over). This past week he happened to review a movie that I was very familiar with: A Troll in Central Park, a movie made by Don Bluth, creator of A Land Before Time and Secret of NIHM, among other things. This review is probably my all-time favorite episode of the Nostalgia Critic, although that’s mostly because this is a movie I saw when I was about six or seven years old. Even though it was long ago and I forgot some big chunks of it, most of the movie stuck in my mind.

It stuck in my mind because it is, without a doubt, the worst movie I had ever seen. Too this day, I have not seen a movie that I thought was worse than A Troll in Central Park. Understand, that when I was that age, up until that point I don’t think I had ever seen a movie that I could have outright said was “bad.” Not sure why, I guess it was mostly because I was a positive kid and didn’t know any better. But this movie was so bad, so poorly written, ugly to look at, and just plain dumb, that even I could tell as a kid it was bad. I saw it once and never watched it again. In fact I hid in in the back of my family’s movie cabinet to try to forget it existed.

Come on, does it even look like the movie is going to ATTEMPT to be good?

So I watched this review, wondering if the movie really would be as bad as I remember. After all, I had forgotten a few parts of it and I had only seen it once. I knew it still wasn’t a good movie, but I thought that maybe it wouldn’t be that bad looking back. So I watched the review and a bunch of memories came rushing back. And you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I remembered.

It was worse. So… so much worse.

This movie is so bad that it makes other horrible films look great by comparison. It makes Plan 9 from Outer Space look like Goodfellas. I’ve seen my share of really bad movies (mostly B-movies due to my love of MST3K and cheesy horror movies due to my current love of Rifftrax). The thing about a lot of bad movies is that they usually have some value. Most movies that are mediocre usually have one or two redeeming qualities, and most of the movies that are so bad they don’t are usually so ridiculously bad it makes you laugh (in fact, some movies are so unintentionally funny it SOMEHOW comes back around to making them good again, like how I feel about the Happening. Speaking of which, the Rifftrax for the Happening is extremely well done and I highly recommend it). A Troll in Central Park isn’t so bad it makes you laugh. It might make you cry, especially if you know Don Bluth is capable of better stuff than this since the man made All Dogs Go to Heaven, for gods sakes, but it won’t make you laugh.

The Nostalgia Critic’s review goes in-depth as to why the movie is bad, so I won’t repeat him, but I will say the worst part about the movie is that there is essentially no real theme to it. It says you should follow your dream, but it feels tacked on. Not that all stories necessarily need a theme that’s blatently obvious, but even escapist stories try to have a good plot. This movie has no plot. It’s just shit you don’t care about happening for about an hour while the main character makes you wish you could telekinetically punch the people responsible for this movie. The characters are annoying and two dimensional and, worst of all, it talks down to the audience. Basically its like “You’ll like this because you’re a kid and you won’t know better. It’s bright and there’s a lot of movement, so you won’t tell if its good or bad.” Well, considering I realized this was the worst anything done by anyone when I was six, I can tell you that’s wrong.

The best movies and stories for children are the ones that don’t talk down to them, the ones that have interesting ideas to offer and things that even adults could appreciate. Look at Up or Coraline. Those are two of my current favorite animated movies, even though they were for children. I enjoyed them both and I’m twenty years old. If a story is written well enough, adults will appreciate it even if it is intended for children. Children will appreciate stories even if they don’t notice all the depth consciously, but children know something good when they see it and most are smart enough to tell when something is just plain awful. You can’t just cover a turd in brightly colored frosting and tell them its a cake. No kid would buy that.

…I may have trailed a bit of topic here, but I do firmly believe that stories for kids and young adults should not talk down to them or treat them like idiots. There’s a very big difference between knowing your audience and just plain insulting them.

Anyway, I advise you all to check out that review. Trust me when I say that the movie really really is that bad.