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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Family Friendly

I don't think it would be giving away any secrets to tell you that Mrs. B has a thing for mindless action movies. The sound you are now hearing is the collective thud of all the jaws of the married men out there hitting the floor. How did you do it, they are all saying, catch a woman who is not only an aerobics instructor, but who likes mindless action flicks?? Two words, my friends: Bass. Guitar. Go and learn.

Anyway, so while it is no secret that she goes for this genre, it may be less well-known that she has a special place in her heart for Jason Statham. It's easy to see why she likes the bald, built, British bloke. He's fun to watch, and even guys can enjoy his films without feeling too threatened. He's had supporting parts in a number of films, but first really grabbed our attention with The Transporter, easily one of Mrs. B's favorite films. Personally, I think the best part of that picture is the awesome soundtrack by Stanley Clarke, which can best be described as two parts bass and one part car horn.

So when we heard that Statham's latest movie, Crank, was coming out on DVD, it was a no-brainer. She returned from one of her aerobics classes with DVD in hand, having passed Blockbuster on the way home. Of course, we knew absolutely nothing about the film. But what was there to know? It's Jason Statham! The guy just has to stand still and strike that Bruce Lee pose, and everybody has a good time!

And the DVD case certainly wasn't going to give anything away. Nope, try as we might, we could get absolutely no idea of what the movie was about by looking at or reading the box. Fair enough. What did grab Mrs. B's attention was the very prominent notation that this DVD featured a "Family-Friendly Audio Mode."

Now, take a few moments, and imagine exactly what that could mean.

When we got our first DVD player, way back in 1999, and brought home our first DVD, and saw that it was capable of offering a choice of soundtracks, offering the ability to have different scenes, even different cuts of a film on one disk, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Finally, I thought. I can have the option to watch a kid-friendly version of some of my favorite films!

Because there are tons of great movies out there that would be fine to watch when the kids are up, except for the peppering of four-letter words, or the five-second obligatory topless scene, that basically relegates the film to be hidden away somewhere and watched only after the kids are safely tucked into bed. Which works when the kids are small. The problem is, kids get bigger. And they stay up later. And pretty soon there's no time to watch a film with naughty words that kids might blunder into.

So I said to Mrs. B, Wow, wouldn't it be great if they used this new DVD technology for goodness, to offer us a choice to watch a safe-for-TV version of our favorite films (and of course, leave the regular version intact for late-night goodness)? But they did not. Instead, they used it for rottenness. To give us our choice of different Stereo configurations, Spanish, French, or even worse, a bunch of commentaries from the second assistant gaffer for those evenings when we had trouble falling asleep on our own. (Actually, I like the commentaries). But in 9 years of DVD releases I had yet to see a movie come out that allowed parents to watch it in the living room without fear.

Until now, when Crank came out with its "Family-Friendly Audio Mode." Why, I almost did a little dance when she read this to me. I can't believe somebody listened! I was so excited.

So, we went down to the basement to watch the flick on the HDTV. This really is a nice DVD to show off your new set. However, family mode or not, this is not a nice DVD to show to your family.

I can only conclude that "Family-Friendly Audio Mode" was offered up as some kind of weird, inside joke. Actually, it's pretty funny, when you think about it. It's funny to have a soundtrack where they replace all the F-bombs (which make up...oh...60 percent of all the words in the script) with variations of the word "freak" and replace sh*t (that's the other 40 percent there) with "stuff", as in "Yo, man, that freakin' stuff ain't free," while at the same time leaving in the graphic violence (a hand gets chopped off by a meat cleaver, for example), scenes of drug use (actually, drug use is seen as very positive in terms of propelling the plot), nudity, and several sex scenes.

It really lends new meaning to the term "Family-Friendly." Maybe if your family is the Mansons. Fortunately, Mrs. B and I were fairly unfriendly to our children in that we kicked them out of the basement before watching this thing. Thank goodness for that.

I still hold out hope for the whole "Family-Friendly" viewing experience. I would like to see more (appropriate) films get the treatment. There are, as I said, plenty of films that would be just fine if a scene or two could be skipped, and a few words replaced. Better yet, and this may be a revolutionary thought, maybe just omit those parts altogether when making the film, since in my experience, they add nothing to its enjoyment, just jack up the rating.

Oh, and Mr. Statham...you can do better than this.


Shira Salamone said...

While they're at it, maybe they can make a few more video games that *don't* involve blowing away half the LA Police. :(

tuesdaywishes said...


Doctor Bean said...

%$#@! I sure *&^$ that ##@^% *&** ***#@ all the $##%% ^^$&@ long! Know #@*& the #(%@ I mean?

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


der ewige Jude said...

The "pink elephants on parade" section of Dumbo was particularly terrifying for me as a child, and still gives me the willies even now. The Little Rebbetzin, of course, is unfazed by it. Mrs. Jude and I prescreen any movies before the L. R. gets to see them. Our usual reaction is "This was made for children????"

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong, but I think we have yet to pre-screen a movie and agree it is ok! What folks think is ok for children, is beyond me..

PsychoToddler said...

Shira: Actually, as a videogame enthusiast, I can authoritatively say that with very few exceptions, video games have much higher standards in terms of censorship than movies or even current TV shows.

Video games have virtually no sex, no nudity, most games have no bad language (or if they do, they have an option to lock out the dirty words via password--the very think I would like for DVDs). Yes there is violence, mostly cartoony, but unfortunately violence is one of the main ways you can interact in a video game, which by definition is an interactive medium. But that's not on topic here so I don't want to get bogged down in a video game violence tangent. Believe me when I say that video games are in general much tamer than movies.

Tuesday: actually, if you know what you're getting into, it's a fun little flick. Just keep your tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Bean: Freakin A! I had hoped to watch the family friendly version with BAC. Well, we'll keep it in mind for next time.

Mr. Jude: I always thought Willie Wonka was scary. And that part with the flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz. You don't need gore to frighten kids.

Mrs. Jude: You definitely have to know what your kids can handle. Most Pixar stuff is fine. Or you can listen to the frummies and just avoid all media. But as far as I am concerned, that just leads to boring kids who are constantly bouncing off the walls.

miriam said...

Hey, I'm a frummie, (no TV, videos only on DVD drive in computer, internet use but only pre-approved websites for kids on said computer, etc.) and I let my kids see Cars! But yes, I pre-screened it.

Anyway, our answer for those nighttime-only movies is to go into our room and watch them on the laptop with wireless headphones. Kids don't need to be asleep, and they don't know that we're watching anything.

But I agree that in most cases, the movies would even work better without the junk. Let me know when you manage to convince Hollywood, LOL.

Anonymous said...

...stepping onto soap box...
My experience is that TV makes children listless, have poor attention spans and unable to think... Then when you turn it off you get a child who is overstimulated and distracted...
.....stepping off soap box...
If we could get the Tour de France streamed via internet I think our TV would go bye-bye.

Shira Salamone said...

Mark, to be honest, I hadn't noticed much about video games other than the violence. (Just call me a hold-over from the Super Mario Brothers and PacMan days.) I'll take your word for the rest.

Mrs. Jude, I think that even commercial television can make children think, even when there are negatives involved. For example, our son was carefully brainwashed by yours truly to think twice about what commercials were trying to sell, which probably helped him to develop his critical-thinking skills. (My all-time favorite: "I don't care what they call it--if it has chocolate and marshmellows in it, it's candy, not cereal!") Even my constant complaints about "eye candy" didn't fall on deaf ears--the Son-ster learned to look beyond the literally obvious and judge whether the actual stories were worth watching. Starting in his late teens, he became a fan of such brain food as the History Channel, and now, as a physics major, he loves the "Myth Busters" science and technology show on the Discovery Channel. Sometimes, just keeping an eye on what kids are keeping an eye on, and throwing in your own two cents, can help kids think about what they're seeing.

Anonymous said...

TV is a funny thing. People have VERY different levels of what they do, what they watch, what they allow their kids to watch.

I know a guy whose father didn't let him watch Loony Toons because they were too violent.

Today things are so much worse, what the goyish world considers family friendly and what we as Torah jews consider family friendly are completely different concepts.

Today even shows like Arthur deal with dating & kissing ... and that's a show for kids who are well under ten years old.

What does my 5 year old son need to watch a show about the girl rabbit trying to get the boy rabbit to kiss her.

Why does my daughter need to watch that damn Bratz show (which she won't ever as long as I'm in charge here) where the girls on that show are soo thin they look like they all weigh about 20 pounds --soaking wet--together on the scale!

I try to limit what they watch and I hope as they grow older I'll be able to impose strict viewing hours. I think to a point it's good creative stimulation, but only in moderation.

By the way, I know this will sound silly, but from the moment I saw Bewitched I wanted to work in advertising and marketing. As a 12 year old boy I just thought what Darrin did for a living was so cool.

If not for a TV and Bewitched, I may never have developed my love for what I do for a living.

/rant. :-)

Jack's Shack said...

Feh to family friendly audio. Feh, feh, feh.

What does my 5 year old son need to watch a show about the girl rabbit trying to get the boy rabbit to kiss her.

I know. Every time my son sees Bugs Bunny dressed as a lady bunny he insists on wearing pantyhose.

Ralphie said...

Okay, first of all, you should have mentioned that Crank features the guy who played Carlos in Napoleon Dynamite. And that he plays an effeminate dancer-slash-mobster.

Crank is about as close to an art house action film as you're ever gonna get. The camera style is very aggressive and the direction is innovative.

Having said that, however, the scene in Chinatown with Amy Smart is so demeaning to her character - and dare I say, to women as a species - that I don't think I can recommend the movie. Or maybe I can recommend it if you promise to skip to the next scene when you see them leaving the Chinese restaurant.

PsychoToddler said...

Yes, but you must admit that that scene where he basically rapes and sodomizes her in public is much less offensive with the family friendly audio.