Catch That Kid (1/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

Never, I repeat, never shall I portray crime other than clothed in the colors of hell. I wish people to see crime laid bare, I want them to fear and detest it, and I know no other way to achieve this end than to paint it in all its horrors. Woe to those who surround it with roses! Their views are far less pure, and I shall never emulate them.

                             The Marquis de Sade - Reflections on the Novel

Even though this film contains no nudity, no profanity and not much violence, it is insidiously repugnant.  The filmmaking is seductive because it’s so appealing, especially to children, which hides the despicable values it advocates.

First, the story. Maddy (Kristen Stewart) is a 12 year-old fledgling mountain climber who practices her climbing in defiance of her mother’s orders not to. Her father, Tom (Sam Robards), needs an operation that costs $250,000. Her mother, Molly (Jennifer Beals) is a security consultant designing a security system for Harderbach Financial Bank. The bank’s president is set up as an unreasonable ogre, so when he rejects Molly’s request for an unsecured $250,000 loan, the audience feels he’s being cruel and unreasonable. As a result, Maddy decides to rob the bank to get the money. In order to enlist her two boy friends in her scheme, she tells each, separately, that she loves him, and only him, so each agrees to help her. The mountain climbing skills she’s been practicing against her mother’s wishes are essential to her scheme.

Why is this morally contemptible when it’s directed at impressionable children? Let me count the reasons:

  1. Because Maddy disobeys her mother and continues to practice climbing, she develops the skills that enable her to rob the bank to get the money to save her father. Conclusion? Your mother doesn’t know best, so don’t pay any attention to her; instead do what you want.
  2. Banks are not charities. They do not loan money on an unsecured basis to needy people for operations to save lives. No bank in the world would have granted a loan to Molly for her husband’s surgery. But because the bank president is defined early in the film as a cruel monster, he’s made to seem unreasonable, so Maddy’s idea to rob the bank seems justified.
  3. Young children are shown in a sexual context.
  4. Maddy lies to both of her male good friends and uses her sex as a tool, making it look like this is the way all women should act to manipulate men to do their will. It works in the film and it’s made to look appropriate, so the little girls in the audience will be influenced that the use of their sex as a tool is proper, and that this is an acceptable way to treat men.
  5. Because of Maddy’s dishonesty and manipulation, the little boys in the audience are shown that women are not to be trusted, no matter how honest they look when they profess their love. They’ll think, “What’s she up to?”
  6. As if that’s not enough, Maddy’s effort to rob the bank is glorified, has no deleterious consequence and is, in fact enormously rewarded.
  7. Molly lies to keep Maddy from being prosecuted.
  8. Men are marginalized throughout this movie. The bank president is a bad guy. His assistant is a buffoon. The two security guards are basically lunatics. Maddy’s two boy friends are manipulated like they’re on the end of a string on Maddy’s finger. Tom, Maddy’s father, is apparently without assets and is flat on his back and helpless throughout the movie. The male cops can’t catch two little 12 year-olds on go-carts. The only people shown as admirable (and I use that word advisedly) in the movie are Molly and Maddy. There are no women with character flaws in the film (unless you recognize that Molly is a liar and that Maddy is a lying thief, which is hard for a preteen to recognize the way the story’s presented).
  9. The clear moral of the film is that the end justifies the means.

If I had preteen children, I’d rather take them to see Meg Ryan parade nude and hear all the profanity in In the Cut than expose them to this morally degenerate film.

February 1, 2004

The End